Thursday, November 8, 2012

Going to Sleep on Their Own!

I have news! HUGE news! (No, I'm not pregnant.)

Last night, both of my kids went to bed on their own, with their doors shut, without a parent even sitting in the hallway!!!!

Why yes, my daughter is now 5.5 years old and my son is over 3. And no, I do not want to hear about how someone else's kids have been doing that since they were infants. Mine have struggled with going to sleep and sleep in general.

Although I hesitate to talk or write about any good sleep/going to sleep situations in our house since doing so always seems to jinx it, I really wanted to include this one good night on my (mostly inactive) blog. Considering the YEARS we've struggled with bedtimes and nighttimes and all the posts I've written to keep my sanity about things related to sleep (or lack thereof), I figured if there was any reason to write a third post this year, LAST NIGHT was the reason!

With the Pumpkin, we have had to make a very slow transition to just get out of her room while she goes to sleep. I think the Pookie would have transitioned quicker to going to sleep on his own, but since we had to stay with his sister, he wanted the same. We have made small steps, slowly progressing from nursing them to sleep, to rocking them to sleep, to lying down with them and signing, sitting next to their beds, sitting in their doorways, to actually one person sitting in the hall while they both go to sleep in their beds!

That last one was HUGE for us! It also freed us up a bit, since one person could sit in the hall reading or playing on the iPhone/iPad while they both went to sleep. Londo has been able to take a gym class twice a week at night, and I've joined an adult chorus once a week and still go to book club once a month.

But lately in my opinion (opinions differ in our house on this), the Pookie has seemed to need more sleep. He wakes up early and won't go back to sleep, so I have insisted that we start putting him to bed earlier than his sister. (Let's skip the parental disagreements here...) But I wanted to make sure we could put him to bed earlier and still maintain that bit of indepence we have in the evenings when one of us can actually go out and do something while the other puts the kids to bed, without causing the bedtime parent to sit in the hall for hours. My solution was to get the Pookie to go to sleep on his own with his door closed.

Apparently, Londo and I were on the same page about how the Pookie could go to sleep. Three nights ago, while I was at chorus, Londo did the bedtime routine, gave the Pookie a kiss, told him he had to check on the Pumpkin, shut the Pookie's door, tucked in the Pumpkin, went back to check on the Pookie like 5 minutes later and the Pookie was asleep.

Not even knowing that, two nights ago while Londo was at his gym, I did the bedtime routine, kissed the Pookie and explained that his sister was still doing something that might be noisy so I needed to close his door for him to go to sleep. I told him that big boys go to sleep with their doors closed (he wants to be big and strong lately) and that he was so capable that I thought he could do it! He was pushing back a little, but then I went with offering a reward, which often works with him. I told him he could have a special treat if he tried it. He said, "Okay. I can try it."

And guess what? He did it!

I sat in the hall while his door was shut and while the Pumpkin had her door open as she practiced writing and reading. I made sure she saw me there the whole time, so she knew that I was there even if the door was shut. When it was time for her to go to bed, I asked her if she wanted her door shut, and she said, "No. I like it the way it is every night."

I said in a tentative, tired voice, "Okay." And she asked why I said okay like that. I was trying to come up with an explanation when she said something along the lines of me thinking she should have the door shut. I explained that some day, she would need to be able to go to sleep by herself with her door shut. She said she understood, but she did not offer to do it that night. She went to sleep in her room with the door open while I sat in the hall.

But the next day, when she heard about and saw the Pookie get his extra piece of Halloween candy for going to sleep by himself with his door shut, she wanted to try it! So last night, the Pookie went to bed by himself again! And then, Londo put the Pumpkin in her room, kissed her and closed the door.

Within minutes, she was back in our room. I thought, "there goes that!" BUT, she just came out to tell her dad that it wasn't as scary as she thought it would be! And Londo pointed out that we were right in the room next door, doing exactly what we had been doing when the Pookie went to bed by himself.

She went back to bed and went to sleep! On her own! With her door shut!

Plus we started a rule a few weeks ago that neither kid can come into our room and bed at night until we open the door. We stay up watching TV or spending time together with the door shut. When we go to bed, we open the door. The Pookie almost never comes to our room before we go to bed anyway, and the Pumpkin is getting better about it. In fact, a couple nights ago, when we reminded her that she needed to go back to her own room, she went back in and went to sleep by herself (after a potty break)!

So nighttimes are going better in the caramama household! I have hope! At least until the next regression, when all bets are out the window!