Thursday, January 27, 2011


We transitioned from co-sleeping to individual beds back in the fall, but we continued our practice of lying down with Sisaye until she was asleep.  I know this doesn't work for everyone, but for a long time, for us, it really wasn't that big of a deal.  We appreciated that she seemed to need it, and when I thought about the fact that she wouldn't be that little and snuggly forever (and I/we really enjoyed it as much as she did), that helped to ease the pain of the hour or so it took her to fall asleep.  But things change, she grew older, and my and Chris's relationship really began to suffer as it started taking upwards of two hours for her to get to sleep at night.  Add that to the 9:00ish bedtime we were sort of adhering to, and Chris and I basically didn't get to see much of each other.  That sucked. 

Something needed to change.

At the beginning of January, we began the gradual exiting of Sisaye's room while she was still awake.  The first two nights were awful, with her crying while we sat by the side of the bed and held her hand.  And I swear to you, when we moved the chair to the middle of the room, I thought my heart would break from her pitiful, "Pwease hode my hand, Mama, pwease."  Complete with sniffles.  My stomach still hurts thinking about it.  I just kept telling myself that part of the reason it was taking her two hours to fall asleep at night was that she really needed the space to herself.  Sigh.

But really, she was only upset for the first three days.  And she never cried for more than three minutes.  Believe me, I counted.  After that, the crying dropped off dramatically, and she entered a new phase:  the con phase.  "I need Binyam!"  "I need Brown Bear."  "I don't want Brown Bear, I want Ms. M!"  You get the picture.  This phase really didn't bother me much, since it was a heck of a lot better than us feeling guilty.  We sat in a chair in the dark hall, where she could see us, until she seemed to be settled.  Then we would make a quiet exit.  This went on for about a week or so.

Two weeks ago, we moved the chair around the corner and out of her line of sight.  The first day, she got out of bed five times.  The second day, twelve times.   Third day, eighteen times.  No crying, just checking to see if we were still there.  We would pick her up, no words, and place her back in the bed.  The fourth day, zero times, no crying.

A few days ago, she looked at me as I got ready to exit the room and said, "Good night Mama!  I love you Mama!  I love you Daddy!  I read my books by myself!"  (They get to keep books with them in bed.)  And that was it.  We've had no issues since then. 

Concurrently with this transition, we also instituted a new bedtime routine, complete with awesomely fabulous poster (see above).  I know, you're jealous.  We eat dinner from 5:30 to 6:00 pm, and then the rest of the steps take about an hour and fifteen minutes to complete.  That means the kidlettes go to bed at - brace yourselves - 7:15 pm!  And they've been sleeping until 6:00 or 7:00 am, depending on the day.  I'll take it either way.  We haven't had any more 3:00 am jumping on the bed fests (thank goodness), and we are all feeling much more rested.  Dinkeneh and Sisaye Claire adore the bedtime chart and have referenced it every day since it went up.  "Snuggle!" is their favorite step, and ours too.

So, with (all) that being said, I'm calling it, folks:



BCMommy said...

Congratulations! That is so awesome! Having an older son who is autistic, we found a picture chart to be so motivating for him. We used one with velcro steps that he could pull off and put in a pocket. he liked the routine, and knowing what comes next etc. He is now 7 and no longer needs the chart, but our routine is set and only changes during vacations, really. My sister in law thinks we are weird because our 7 and 5 yr old are in bed by 7:30pm every night, except Fri and Sat., when it's 8pm (shocking!). Her kids have no routine, no bedtime. They are 4 and 6 and if I call on a school night at 10pm, they are likely to still be up. As a teacher, it's maddening to me! Of course, she can't get them or herself up in the mornings either. We have tried to help her start a routine, but she insists they will not go to sleep earlier and will cry. God forbid, they cry (?)'s all in the training. Like you guys had to do, it takes a lot of work and patience. She hasn't got the patience, so she lets them do whatever they want.
Your work will pay off in so many ways! She, on the other hand, is setting herself up for a lot of issues.
Good job!

Julie said...

Woo HOO. There is hope for us. Will be bookmarking this post and that poster. :)

Rachel said...

Awww, we did the same "moving slowly out of the room" thing with Clementine and it worked like a charm. Thank god for it. It's sooo important for parents to get a night to themselves IMO. Glad it worked out for you guys!

Chatter said...

Yay!! Isn't it such a wonderful feeling. We had our boys in bed by 6:30 last night; granted they were awake by 5:45 this morning. But having our evenings together is so wonderful!! Congrats on your successful bedtime routine. That is awesome!! Woohoo!

kate said...

Really?!? Just when I'm super excited that you posted make me cry. :( I think my heart broke a little just reading the story! I can't imagine actually having to do it. But yay for the whole family!! I'm so happy that part is over with and the new schedule is so amazing!! I love you guys!!

Aunt Kate

Cindy said...

Wonderful! I am so happy for everyone. : )

Jennifer said...

Awesome job, Mommy! I love the poster idea - I think I will do this for my kiddos soon.

Ashley said...

I know how difficult the sleep stuff is. We've struggled for more than two years with it. And I am pretty sure it will be atleast two more years before we get a full night's sleep. We've followed similar methods to yours, including some "crying it out." I really do think it was the best for our family though and everyone is better rested.

Elizabeth Rose said...

That chart is too cute! Congratulations on being amazing parents:)

cathy said...

that's truly wonderful. my kids were always in bed by 7 and that was the only time david and i really had together. in the evening, just to ourselves. and the kids were actually well rested. it took a lot of work with lily, sitting in the hallway... but it paid off. glad they're both doing so well. yay you!

Jess said...

I love it! Have I told you before that I think you are an amazing mom? Well, I do. Really. You're awesome!