A few weeks ago, we hit a milestone. It was a long overdue milestone because my kids have been ready for a long time; I just wasn’t ready to pull the plug. We DITCHED THE PULLUPS at night. For most parents, this would be a celebratory milestone. For me, it’s been something to look upon disdainfully.
My woes don’t stem from the fact that my kids are wetting their beds. In fact, it’s much the opposite – they have woken up dry every single morning. My woes stem from the fact that I made a big deal of removing the pullups, telling them that they can’t pee at night (BAD MOMMY!), thus creating some insecurities that haunt active toddler brains.
…I HAVEN’T SLEPT A FULL NIGHT SINCE…
My son is one of those kids who, once he’s down, he’s DOWN. My daughter, on the other hand, has inherited my terrible sleep tendencies. She suffers from night terrors, she has very vivid nightmares, and if you so much as fart as you’re walking by her room, she wakes up. A year ago, I worked with a sleep consultant to break some bad sleep associations that came out of a particularly bad stretch of night terrors. Things were going GREAT and I could count on one hand the number of times in the past year that she had woken up. I was sure we had fixed her sleep problems but boy, was I wrong…
The night that we lost the pullups, she randomly woke up twice. The first time, she SWORE that she hadn’t fallen asleep yet (despite it being 3 hours after bedtime). The second time, she told me she wanted to “talk.” Both times, she refused to go to the potty.
Lather, rinse, repeat…for the past three weeks.
I’ve only been successful in getting her to sleep two nights in that time. Both times, I resorted to using some questionable reverse psychology, but since they both worked, I have no shame in using them. Mama is tired, Bubba (her twin brother who shares a bedroom) is waking up super cranky, Daddy is sick, and she is walking around in a daze. This needs to stop and the old tactic of letting her cry-it-out isn’t working because this time, her waking isn’t habitual; it’s psychological.
A few nights ago, she was asking me about Disneyworld. When I tucked her into bed that night, I told her that if she wakes up, she needs to try to go back to sleep.
“I don’t like to sleep.”
“But you need sleep to grow.”
“I don’t want to grow.”
“I thought you told me you wanted to go to Disneyworld?”
“If you want to ride all the good rides at Disneyworld, you have to be at least as tall as here.” I point to a spot on the wall that’s about 4 inches higher than her latest height marker. “Sleep helps you to grow, so if you want to go to Disneyworld, you need sleep.”
“I’m tired now. Can I go to sleep?”
“Of course you can.” I pull her sleeves down on her jammies and tuck her nicely into bed. “Goodnight.”
“Goodnight… when I grow that tall, can we go to Disneyworld?”
“Yes, but you need to be at least four years old.”
“OK, Mommy. Goodnight.”
I’d forgotten how much night wakings truly suck. The first night is not so bad, but when you’re on the 21st night, yeah…it bites. I get it – my kids are young, it’s to be expected, and the time will pass so that one day, I will miss the nighttime snuggles. That doesn’t make this any easier. I also get that my bribery tactics are likely to be frowned upon by parenting experts, but you know what? It worked for me, it doesn’t hurt anyone, and it’s not entirely untrue – you do need sleep to grow and you do need to be tall enough to ride certain rides at Disneyworld. I just let her active toddler brain transitively put two-and-two together so that it could work to my advantage.
…We do what we can to survive…