Beckoning Bedtime Bliss: A Tired Mom’s Account Of Bedtime Battles
Sleep, is not just necessary but such an incredible, incredible state of being, right!? It’s a pity that one doesn’t come into this realization in one’s infancy. Alas! Truly, how much easier would life have been if kids ‘yearned’ for bedtime, just like their exhausted moms, and dads! Yet, the hard reality remains that most nap and bed times are just as stressful as much as perhaps the Battle-of-Wandiwash may have been!
In a Study published in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology Volume 40, Issue 7, 1 August 2015 on ‘Relationship Between Child and Maternal Sleep: A Developmental and Cross – Cultural Comparison, authors Jodi A. Mindell, et al conclude that:
“interventions to improve children’s sleep and develop good sleep habits, especially in early childhood, are likely to improve the quality of life of the whole family.
Now, if you are a parent who genuinely enjoys co-sleeping, is not looking to introduce a set bedtime routine, or finds putting off their kid (of whatever age s/he may be) to sleep by being by their side all along,you may skip this entire read. This piece of writing is for the other kind, a whole lot of moms who struggled, or still struggle, with bedtime woes, everyday! It is them, that I’d love to share my thoughts and experiences with.
So, with both my children, up till the age of 22 months or so, bed and nap times were a matter of severe exhaustion, sometimes truly traumatic – and I am certain many mothers would relate to my account!
Of this period, I vividly recall the tired moments when I lay beside my munchkins, gazing into oblivion, waiting for the ‘dawn’ of their slumber; the times when either or both would awake just as I would be scheming my exit from their room, or creeping out of a creaky bed. I had even learnt to differentiate their ‘shallow’ breathing from their and ‘deep’ breaths, to recognize the onset of their sleep, and accordingly, better time a sure-shot escape from the room.Adding to my miseries was the fact that being a working woman I was not accustomed to afternoon siestas, and hence, never really could fall asleep with my babies in the day.
Then there were times when my husband would ‘peep in’ to check if I had finally managed the impossible, so that we could eat dinner, and-I-would-gesticulate-so-wildly at him, as if banishing him from the room, forever! From cursing the passing traffic’s honks and the innocuous neighborhood sounds, to indulging in self-pity, I saw the most arbid of thoughts and emotions rising while waiting, and waiting for my children to float into La-La Land. At the same time, I could never wonder enough at the enormous ability of a sleepy child resisting and refusing to sleep. Although in hindsight, I chuckle at these experiences, my impatience and idiosyncrasies, yet, in those moments, I was not able to calm my heightened senses, and many a time, even just broke down with sheer fatigue!
That I could sing, and had figured the rhythmic movements, beats and pats, to lull my babies to sleep, was indeed of enormous help in this account of ‘sleep struggles’. Yet, these aids couldn’t withstand the emotional, mental and physical drain of the days when I would spend up to even 45 minutes trying to get past the herculean mission: Baby Slumbering! And, imagine the plight I found myself in, when I had another baby in tow; equally demanding of my time and energies. I soon found my patience and mental peace running out; which is when I decided to change the rules of sleeping for my troublesome two!
So, when our older one was just 2.5 years, I had achieved the freedom from sitting beside him on a ‘naptime’ duty. Gradually, at about 3 years, I was able to tuck him into his bed and leave the room, freeing myself from the very tedious ‘bedtime duty’. Today, for both our boys, 3.5 years and 22 months respectively, the bedtime routine comprises a short 10-15 minutes exercise that includes brushing teeth, a final toilet-trip for the night, and a quick drink of warm milk as they climb into their bed and cot, respectively. And, all of this strictly between 8:00 – 8:30 pm, daily, weekend or not!
The consequences of this, as anyone can imagine, have been significant- a calmer and more relaxed set of parents, with plenty of hours with each other to talk, unwind or just sleep!
So, for the benefit of anyone who is trying ‘Independent Sleep Training’ for their children, here is how I bid adieu to tantrums, and transitioned from co-sleeping to independent sleeping for my children.