Yes, i know. By now my 18 month old should be able to drift off to sleep on her own, without being ‘rocked, nursed or lulled back to sleep’. She should be getting a full night’s sleep, plus her nap each day, without any issues, closing her eyes with a smile on her face, happily floating off to dreamland, all by herself, no arguments. Well, not my child.
But you know what… I don’t mind.
I tried the whole ‘kiss and cuddle and pop them in bed’ approach and i wanted to die. It was the Worst Week of my life.
My poor daughter screamed blue murder – okay, admittedly only for 4 or 5 minutes after i put her in bed – but i felt like ‘Worst Mom of the Year’. The thing that really got to me was seeing how the new bedtime routine affected her during the day. My normally happy, loving little daughter started pulling away from me as soon as the sun went down – almost as if She Knew. She was getting tearful, and crying every time we went into her room to change a diaper, and her beautiful bedroom – the one filled with Peppa Pig and Princess Sofia – all of a sudden became her least favorite place to be.
No. It’s not for us. The tough love bedtime thing is just Too Tough. For now, our bedtime routine is going to remain the way it’s always been. Dinner. Bath. Calm down time on Mommy’s lap (usually in front of the telly [GASP!] Mom’s 21 minutes of The Middle or something equally ‘raucous’). ‘Bottie’ before bed, then saying ‘good-night’ to all the friends (Peppa and George, princess Sofia, Mickey and Minnie) on the pictures in the bedroom. The Little Lady turns on her bedtime mobile and then turns off the big light, and then i rock her and we sing.
It’s not that bad you know. In fact, now that i’ve come to my senses, i wouldn’t change our bedtime routine for the world. I get to drink in that clean, baby smell. That warm, fuzzy softness. For those minutes, she’s all mine. She’s becoming her own little person, with the most fantastic personality – the days are filled with funny, wonderful little things she’s done or said (or tried to say) and this time is also my time to reflect on her accomplishments. In the half dark of her little room, to the tune of twinkle twinkle little star, Mommy’s heart swells with pride. As i hold her in my arms, and stroke those dark curls, i know my little girl feels safe. My little girl feels happy. My little girl feels loved. One day, probably sooner than i realise, she won’t need me to rock her to sleep anymore. Before i know it, she’ll be waving goodbye at the primary school gates, and then in the blink of eye she’ll be heading off to high school.
Of course, there are difficult nights. The nights when she’s not feeling well, or when i’m feeling down, or tired, or things are just a little ‘out of whack’. I’ve come to realize that even those nights are ‘do-able’. I just need to step back, take a deep breathe, calm down, and give it another go. Every day, we’re all changing, growing, going through things, but if i can just breathe, and be calm, and be there for my child there is so much i can learn. Parenting is cycle of love, and growth and loss and discovery. It is an exciting, tiring, terrifying, wonderful ride – and i don’t want to miss even a single second of it.
I write things down, and i take photos. Loads of photos. But the truth is, no photo can capture the feeling that this moment holds. For now, i’m going to cherish every moment while it’s still alive. And i’m going to rock my baby to sleep – even on the hard nights.
If you’re looking for more information on sleep and how it affects your child’s development, check out this post.
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