I’ve droned on and on and on and on about Matthew’s sleep, and our challenges with it, on my blog. I kept a very detailed account of our experience with the Fer.ber method after trying everything else to help him sleep. I’ve vented about naps and his attempts to stop napping altogether. I’ve talked too much about bedtime routines taking too damned long each night and my frustration with having to lay with him for 30-60 minutes each and every night until he falls asleep. To say that Matthew has been a challenge in the sleep department is an understatement (until you talk to someone who’s had a more difficult time with babies/toddlers and sleep, but it’s all relative).
It’s true that Matthew sleeps, usually uninterrupted, for 9-10.5 hours each night. That’s a great thing! But the truth is, 9-10.5 hours of sleep just isn’t enough for a kid his age (well, 10.5 hours is enough, but he rarely gets that much). He doesn’t go to bed until 8:45 and then I’m in his room until somewhere between 9:15 and 9:45. I’d love to put him to bed at 8:30 and walk out after tucking him in, but I don’t think that’s in the cards for us. He just isn’t ready to settle down at 8:30 unless he’s had no nap, which is not an option in this house. He now wakes up between 7:00 and 7:45 each morning, which is a huge improvement from the recent days he’d wake up at 6:00. Holy hell, those were hard mornings – and they lasted for months and months and months. I am now awake before him which means I’m a rested, happy mom when he wakes up. I make a point to rush to the hallway to get him (we keep a gate up so that he can’t accidentally fall down the stairs if he walks in his sleep) and I always flip on the lights and celebrate the morning. When he was getting up at 6:00 AM, there was nothing to celebrate. HA!
Just recently, Matthew started making bedtime a bit easier on his old mom. Instead of laying with him for 30-60 minutes each night, that dropped down to 15-30 minutes each night. I was more than happy with this, and honestly, I do love snuggling with him. When he dropped down to only needing 15-30 minutes of my time, he also started shushing me when I’d try to sing to him. I don’t remember the exact last time I sang to him, but I do know it was when B was out-of-town on one of his work trips. I bet it was almost a month ago now. That makes me sad, but again, I’m out of his room after no more than 30 minutes, so I’ll let the shushing slide! The one thing that he’s been doing that bothers me, though, is pushing me aside after a snuggle or two.
Matthew loves to pull my arm over him and tuck it in really tight under his left shoulder. He’ll turn onto his left side but I sure better keep that arm under him (not easy)! If I move my arm – we start all over. Lately though, he only lets me hold him for a bit before literally tossing my arm off of him while saying, “no!” REJECTION! He’ll go so far as pushing every part of me far away from him so that not even a finger of mine is touching him. I was offended by this at first, but then thought, “are we on our way to him wanting to go to bed without me?”
I ignored the thought for a long time, only mentioning it once to B that maybe Matthew was moving in the direction of really putting himself to sleep. This all started when he began napping in our bed – when prior to that – I had to rock him to sleep before putting him in the crib. As I look back on it now, I’m thinking that moving him to our bed for naps, where I just sit next to him as he drifts off, started teaching him sleep independence. Each and every nap gets easier, to the point that it doesn’t even matter what I put on the TV (super low volume) as long as it’s not a cartoon. I keep it kid-friendly, but honestly, he doesn’t care anymore what’s on. The minute the TV goes on with something that has to do with construction trucks (that’s my go-to theme), he settles down and drifts off within a few minutes. Nap time has never been easier.
And now bed time is way easier. Go figure!
So getting to the point of this post. I only mentioned once to B that maybe Matthew was getting ready to go to bed by himself because of his independent actions each night. I said that once we’re back from our Colorado trip after Christmas, that that’s when I’ll push the issue of getting him to go to sleep on his own. The conversation was over with a plan in place. But I kept wondering each and every night if I could have left the room earlier, after he rolled to his left side after tossing me aside. But I’ve not had the guts to try.
Last night, there was a bit of an accident in our house. I had hung up some glass prints of Matthew from his 1-year-old session above his closet and they’ve been there for a month or so. I hung them with temporary nails just to be sure on the spacing before putting the screws in the wall that came with the prints. However, the nails seemed to work just fine and after opening and closing the closet doors several times to check stability, I figured the nails would work. B came home from his trip to find the prints up and was OK with the nails since I said I tested them. He did say that screws would be better, but meh, if nails work, they work. They worked – until last night when I was getting clothes out of the closet for the next day and the biggest print (16 X 24 or so) fell on my face – splitting the bridge of my nose open.
It was a pain, and shock, like I’ve rarely known (much like when I took a water ski to my nose several summers ago) and I wasn’t even sure what had happened. I just held my face and cried, literally cried, for B. He told me not to look at it and to get dressed (I was in my jammies). I listened to him and didn’t look until I heard him on the phone with someone, asking them to come to the house so he could take me to the ER for stitches. Then I looked, and I sobbed some more. My face, my face, my face! I couldn’t stop sobbing. HA! Anyway, the neighbor ended up taking me to the ER (no stitches, just a butterfly bandage) leaving B at home with both boys – awake at bed time.
When I got home from the ER, B told me that he left Matthew in the room, resting but awake, because he was worried about Bryson. WHAT? He said that he stayed in bed. WHAT? He said that he didn’t cry. WHAT? He said that he watched on the monitor as he tossed and turned, but didn’t move from his pillow. WHAT? I chalked it up to it being B, and not his beloved mom, leaving Matthew and him being OK with it because, well, it wasn’t Mom.
But I also figured I’d give it a try tonight because if this was our window of opportunity to do this without a struggle, then why not try?
And try I did.
And I (we) succeeded. I laid with Matthew for 10 minutes exactly (that gave him time to tuck my arms around him, and then toss them off of him!), tucked him in, said goodnight, and walked out. Not a peep. I quickly grabbed the monitor and saw his little eyes glowing in the night vision view. But he didn’t move much, aside from a flip from side to side. Within 20 minutes, he was asleep.
It was that easy!
How could I have not read the cues sooner (like a few weeks ago)? Why did it take an emergency to figure out how to put my kid to bed? I suppose it doesn’t matter – because all that matters is that for two nights in a row – Matthew has put himself to sleep without even attempting to get out of his bed!
I tried, and I succeeded!
(Unlike how I tried to securely hang those pictures, and failed.)
My hope is that this is my LAST post about Matthew’s sleep habits. Let’s all cross our fingers!
October 9, 2013 at 6:26 am
Yay! That’s so great! I think it’s partially us too, the moms, who have to be ready for our kids to go sleep on their own. We need to project the confidence and belief that they can do it. I wasn’t ready myself until this past weekend.
Here’s to better nights!
October 9, 2013 at 4:53 pm
Yes, yes, YES! I wasn’t ready… but my husband showed me that I can be strong and do the right thing!
Good for you for doing it too!
October 9, 2013 at 8:14 am
Firstly, ouch!! Poor you! Glad it didn’t need stitches in the end. And yay Matthew!! That is great! I am glad you still get to have that 10 minutes of snuggle time, then get your own time without being stuck in there for a long stretch. It sounds like a perfect situation right now so I really hope it keeps up. It is rare for Lids as she is usually an awesome sleeper, but holy cow, we have hit a rough patch. Screaming at nap time and bedtime. These toddlers sure do keep us on our toes!
October 9, 2013 at 4:52 pm
It really is the best of both worlds right now – getting the snuggle time but also getting my own time. It felt so good to walk out last night without leaving a sad child behind! I hope it keeps up too!
I swear – the screaming and fits at nap time were KILLING me. I was such a wreck over it. I’m so glad those days are behind us now! Gotta love the TV that we swore we’d never use as a tool to calm our child!
October 9, 2013 at 10:56 am
Yay Matthew! We figured this out when I was so sick 1st tri and Charlie took over the bedtime routine. When i did it, it had become a long, drawn out thing. Daddy did a quick bedtime routine, laid her down, and walked out. MAGIC i tell you. Sleep is such a touchy thing, but awesome when it’s going well!
October 9, 2013 at 4:50 pm
Yeah – it’s amazing how we can be the crux of the problem! I clearly was the problem in all of this.
October 9, 2013 at 5:48 pm
For us it’s a joint problem – the kid wants more time with us when she isn’t super tired so she drags out bedtime, then we respond with a longer routine for a few weeks, then she extends THAT, then we cut back, and begin the cycle all over again… sleep is so tricky. I’m hopeful we’re entering a better phase now where everyone sleeps. Don’t blame yourself! It’s a relationship and those kids yank for more mom time sometimes.
October 13, 2013 at 10:29 pm
Thank you for this! You are so right about the cycle – we do the same darned thing! And we even know he’s delaying us on purpose, but we still drag it out. Our routine is getting shorter and shorter every night. He tosses me aside (HA!) within just a few minutes now and I’m leaving his room less than 10 minutes after entering it. Unreal!
October 9, 2013 at 10:37 pm
First of all, I’m SO SORRY about your nose! That is awful. I’m glad you didn’t need stitches. I hope it heals nicely (and quickly).
As for the sleep stuff, I get it. I wrote about sleep for about two months of Osita’s life and I could still bring it up here and there (I do actually and have gotten some great advice). Sleep is just such a huge issue, we need to work it out. So don’t apologize, just keep writing what you need to write.
I’m glad it’s getting better though. That is awesome!
October 13, 2013 at 10:26 pm
Thanks! It looks worse than it feels… 🙂
Sleep is a huge issue – you’re right! And it’s amazing how much trouble it caused us for 2 years. I am so relieved to have him on the right track now – just in time to run into issues with Bryson, I’m sure 😉
October 10, 2013 at 8:02 am
oh man, that definitely left a mark! I hope it doesn’t swell too much!
Hooray for Matthew going to sleep on his own! Big boy 🙂
October 13, 2013 at 10:24 pm
He is a big boy.. making life so much easier on all of us!
October 10, 2013 at 11:08 am
OW!! Yikes! That must have killed… but you know, it’s kind of a cool place to have a scar, you’ll look like an NHL player or something. In fact, probably better to tell people you took a hockey stick between the eyes instead of the whole shelf story. 🙂
Don’t apologize for all the writing/stressing about Matthew’s sleep issues — it affects so much in both the kid’s life and yours, it’s only natural to want desperately to get it right. Sounds like maybe you’ve figured things out, though! Fingers crossed this sticks!
October 13, 2013 at 10:24 pm
It is sort of bad-ass, isn’t it? HA!
Thanks for the reassurance, girl! We definitely have this figured out now for him (God only knows if it would work for other kids) and it’s going so well. I am actually quite glad I’ve documented this all so much so that I can look back on it for when Bryson is going through it. HA! Because he WILL go through it, I’m sure!
Have you had that baby yet? 😉
October 11, 2013 at 11:18 am
Ouch!! Glad you weren’t hurt worse! I’m glad you write about the sleep issues you’ve been having because it’s such a stressful thing. Hearing what works/doesn’t for other moms is so incredibly helpful. I hope this works for you guys and Matthew here on out.!!
October 13, 2013 at 10:22 pm
Thanks! I think the injury was more traumatic than anything – because you know – it’s my face! HA!
So far, we are doing great! I think this is a new habit for Matthew and he hasn’t looked back since we’ve been leaving him to fall asleep on his own for a week now. B even slept with him while on vacation, but he went right back to our new routine the night we got home. I think we have this thing finally figured out!