By Katie Moosbrugger
A few years ago, my then-four-year-old had taken on a new routine to wake my husband and I up at least once a night and sometimes up to 10 times (yes, we’ve counted) for a range of reasons. Some were valid, most were not. I originally wrote this post when I was in the fog of it all. If you are in this same predicament, perhaps this post – and the comments below – will help you. Or if you have additional suggestions, please share as well.
Now I don’t mean to scare all of you who are new moms, those who are expecting, or those of you who are simply thinking of having a baby – but for the first seven years as a mom – I could probably count on my fingers and toes how many nights of full sleep I actually had in total.
You may remember Rachel’s post on “Tricks for a Smooth Bedtime Routine.” I felt like I memorized that blog from reading it so many times, but I just couldn’t get those tricks to work in our house. So here was my saga…
It started out innocently enough. My son would cry out, “Mommy, I need you.” And of course I’d go running in to check him. Sometimes he had a bad dream, other times he wanted a hug and a kiss (of course I used to think that was adorable – not so much anymore), and occasionally he’d wet the bed (despite the fact he wears pull-ups). So this went on for a while – much longer than we wanted – but we got it to die down eventually.
Then it started up again. But not only does he call me into his room, but he’ll also come to my bed to wake me. And the requests were getting more ridiculous. “Can you turn on the light in my closet?” Only to be followed by another request a few hours later, “Can you turn off the light in my closet?” Or we’d get woken up to be asked, “What day is tomorrow?” Or “Can I play with so-and-so tomorrow?” Or “How many more hours until morning?”
So eventually my husband and I started flinging around the ever-too-familiar parental threats (those are never-ending in our house) – things like, “If you don’t go back to sleep, you will have no play dates this week.” Or, “If you call me in here again, I’m turning off all your night lights and shutting your door.” (He is deathly afraid of the dark and having his door shut.) Our latest threat: “If I hear from you again, I’m locking your door until morning.”
To some of you reading this, you probably think I’m a horrible parent for threatening those things. Well, we never followed through on those threats (maybe that’s our problem!). But, honestly, some of my friends think I’m being way too nice.
A friend of mine, who was experiencing this same challenge, told me her pediatrician said: “Lock the door!” She was told the first one or two nights might be rough with crying, but eventually he will get the point that he is to stay in bed through the night. So she took the advice and locked her son’s door. Well, his door didn’t actually lock – so she and her husband tied one end of a bungee cord to the door handle and the other end to a baby gate that blocked his entrance. Sure enough, he cried out and tried to open the door and had no luck. This created a pretty big temper-tantrum, but her entire ordeal was solved in that one night. They never had to re-create that bungee cord contraption, and her son’s waking habits ceased for good.
Call it tough love or call it what you will, but it worked for her.
Have you experienced this dilemma? What did you do? Please offer your comments so some of us bleary-eyed moms can get some sleep!