If it was financially possible and let’s face it, socially acceptable, I would have loved to have kept Nate in his crib much longer than we did. Although he was over two when we started the transition into his new toddler bed, he had never once attempted to climb out of his crib. He was content just kind of hanging out in there until myself or Kurt would get him out in the mornings or after nap time. Him being in his crib made bedtime so much easier for us as well. We could literally just put him down at night, close the door, and leave him be. Yes he would usually cry until he fell asleep but knowing we had the monitor on him and the fact he wasn’t a climber made us feel at ease with leaving him. Typically, Nate would cry for about 10-15 minutes before he would conk out for the night and although sleeping in for us meant until 7:30 or 8 o’clock at the latest, Nate was fine playing with his stuffies for however long he’d been awake for. When he was ready to come out, he’d start calling for one or both of us and that’s when we’d go up and get him. Easy peasy.
However; over this past Christmas we made the decision to start transitioning him into a ‘Big Boy’ bed. We obviously knew we had another little one on the way and the cost of having to purchase a whole other crib for Baby L #2 was a bit more than we wanted to bite off so thus the “should we or shouldn’t we” conversation of crib to bed transitioning took place. We found a toddler sized Paw Patrol bed in Walmart and given that it’s Nate’s all time favourite show, we decided to purchase it and create a Paw Patrol oasis for him. From the bed, to the sheets, to the pillow and blanket, to the stuffies we bought him; everything in his room is basically Paw Patrol related. I must say, although I loathe the show and cannot stand to hear the theme song one more time, Nate’s room is pretty dang adorable! Kurt assembled Nate’s bed some time in January because we wanted to get over all the holiday hoopla before we attempted this drastic change.
It was also Kurt’s idea to set up the bed in the corner of our bedroom just until we had the house ‘Nate proofed’. In our old house, all the bedrooms were upstairs so any time Nate moved or cried I could hear him without the monitor volume even being on. But in our new home, the master is on the main floor in the back of the house, meaning Nate who is upstairs, is technically closer to the front door. Now, he’s never actually opened the front door but I’ve seen him playing with the lock and he most definitely knows how to lock and unlock the door. I’m pretty sure it’s every parent’s nightmare that their child somehow manages to get outside and gets injured or worse so until we had the house totally secure, neither Kurt nor I felt comfortable letting Nate sleep upstairs alone. His bed fit perfectly into the space between my vanity and our master closet so it was there he slept for what was meant to only be a few nights but in reality turned into a few weeks. You know how it is… anyways, the first few nights went surprisingly well. I sat beside him and played with his hair or stroked his cheek until he fell asleep and that was it! He was out for the night! I remember thinking “Wow! This is amazing! He’s going to be so easy to transition!” hahaha typical first-time mom thought right there because within a few days, he was screaming and crying, and throwing fits when I said it was time for bed. I would literally stay in our room beside his bed for up to an hour at a time trying to get him to fall asleep before either tapping out and having Kurt try or caving and letting him snuggle into me in our bed until he fell asleep. I tried to cut the pattern of me staying in the room with him but because he could just climb out of bed, rarely did that work. He would just either come out into the living room sobbing or spend the next hour laying behind the door crying and sticking his little fingers out underneath until we couldn’t take it any more. Honestly, how do all kids know that these tricks work on us parents!? Seriously! How sad is it seeing little fingers under the door and hearing cries of “Mommy!” or “Daddy!”? Ugh, just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes! Anyways, these behaviours continued on and off for the next several weeks before I pretty well gave up and started just going to bed at the same time as Nate. If he knew Mommy was sleeping in her bed beside him, he would go right to sleep without any fuss.
Nap time was no better. If I was off work or it was a weekend, there was almost no chance that Nate would take a nap and if he did, you better believe it was because I was taking a nap too or he’d fallen asleep in the truck while we were out somewhere. Thank goodness that my dad and step-mom still had their crib set up for him to nap in because he was miserable on the days when naps were skipped. There were many nights when I wanted to just say F it and set his crib back up because I was so over having to spend up to two hours trying to convince a screaming two year old he needed to sleep when the magic happened! He finally, finally started falling asleep sooner and closer to his intended bedtime. It was around this time that I decided ‘Ok if he can manage this, then he can manage it in his own bedroom too’. And that’s exactly what I did. One afternoon when Kurt and Nate were out shopping, I carried his bed and mattress back upstairs and decorated all the walls of his room in Paw Patrol stickers. I set up his Marshall chair by his reading nook and made sure everything was perfect for his ‘Big Boy’ room reveal. My hope was if the room was set up perfectly for him, that getting him to sleep in there would be easier. Again, first-time mom thought for sure because we just continued to hit the same bumps we’d been hitting when he was sleeping down in our room. The crying, the screaming, the constantly getting up and out of bed, nothing worked except one of us laying on the floor directly beside him. Talk about uncomfortable! Me being over five months pregnant and Kurt with his bad back having to take turns each night laying down beside him and rubbing his hand until he was sound asleep. And I mean sound asleep! There was no sneaking out of the room while he was dozing off or tip toeing across the carpet at the first clear sound of a snore. No. He had to be out cold! This meant staying in the room for at least another 20 minutes or so after he was out before it would be deemed safe to leave. And I hate to admit it, but on more than one occasion I fell asleep on the floor of Nate’s room before him! I’d somehow wake up and come downstairs only to find that it was past 10pm and I’d been up there for about two hours. He also had this adorably frustrating habit of waking up in the middle of the night and coming to sleep in our bed. You’d hear him on the monitor calling for Mommy or Daddy then you’d hear his door open and the telltale signs of a little bum bounding down the stairs and little feet running across the tile and laminate flooring. He’d burst into our room and scramble up onto our bed before we had a chance to say no. It all seems super cute until you realize that once he would get into our bed, it was like he could not get comfortable. The kid would be everywhere! On you, off you, at your head, by your feet, sitting up, laying down, changing positions constantly to the point where one of us would ‘take one for the team’ and take him back upstairs to sleep in his bed while having to sleep on the floor of his room ourselves. There were definitely some uncomfortable mornings and work days that’s for sure!
Things did start to perk up though. At the beginning of April it seemed that Nate was finally understanding that bedtime was not a game and that no matter how much he whined or cried or carried on, he still needed to go to sleep. This went for nap time as well. I was finally starting to see the light at the end of the long, sleep-deprived tunnel. Pretty soon I didn’t care that Nate would wake up on my days or weekends off at 6:30am because at least he’d gone to bed on time and actually slept the entire night in his own room. Win, win! I thought we were on the home stretch where I could look back on those tiring and trying nights/mornings and think ‘wow, how things have changed!’ but then we went to NYC and for some reason we’re almost back at square one with him and bedtime. It’s not that Nate is fighting his bedtime again or having these huge temper tantrums because we’re saying it’s lights out, no the current issue we’re facing is Nate refusing to spend the entire night in his bed. Maybe it’s because in New York, although we had a crib in our room, the bed was big enough and we were tired enough that Nate just slept with us. You wouldn’t think that three nights could completely derail weeks- months really- worth of time and effort in getting him to where he was but apparently it can because here we are; over a week back from our trip and Nate has woken up every single night. When he did it last Sunday I thought ‘Ok, we’re back home now and he’s had a crazy, busy weekend so it makes sense that he’s still over stimulated and wants to be with us’ but now that we’re a week in I’m beginning to see an unwelcome trend. He’ll go to bed fine, there might be one or two small outbursts but nothing that I would classify as a full blown tantrum but by the middle of the night, he’s waking up and running (like literally running) downstairs and into our bed. It’s gotten progressively early in the night too. At first he started around 3 or 4am which sucked on the days when I worked and had to wake him back up to bring him to my dad’s house for 6am. But the past two or three nights, it’s been just after 11pm that he’s woken up and come downstairs. In fact, Sunday night I hadn’t even fallen asleep yet when I heard him opening his door on the monitor and then within a few seconds watched him crawl up and over Kurt into our bed.
This parenting thing never ceases to amaze me. Just when I think we’ve gotten a hang of it and we’re driving safely down the road of life, Nate gets a hold of the wheel and steers us completely off course! Since I’m off basically every day this week until Friday, my goal is to get us back on track with this sleep transitioning business. I’m hoping it’ll only take a few days as oppose to a few weeks because Lord knows we definitely don’t have that sort of time! I cannot imagine doing this every night plus nighttime feedings with a new born baby. Oh jeeze! Wish us luck that’s for sure!
**Update: I technically wrote this post yesterday and saved it as a draft with the intent of posting it today. So since we’ve now gone through another night where Nate didn’t sleep through the whole night I figured I’d give an update on what I did differently last night and how it worked. I heard him coming downstairs at around 3am so instead of letting him come into bed with us, I dragged myself out of our bed and met Nate at the door. I told him Mommy would be coming upstairs with him but that he was going to be sleeping in his own bed again. I’m not sure how long we were awake for but it seemed like forever! He just kept tossing and turning and could not get himself comfortable again. Plus he would continuously look over the side of his bed to see if I was still there. I finally got him to sleep and fell asleep on the floor of his bedroom myself for a little bit before waking up and going into the spare room. Unfortunately, once Kurt left for work in the morning, Nate was up. I checked the clock and it was 6:27am. Great! To say that nap time cannot come soon enough today would be a massive understatement!**