Happily, and thankfully, Diesel and I are beyond the days of making our near one year old Choo-choo cry it out. Those were desperate times, my friends. Whether or not you agree with the cry-it-out method, I have to say it was the very best for all of us by that point.
I had held Choo-choo nearly all night every night for six months straight. I then started putting him down in his crib once he fell asleep, but he usually woke up in ten minutes or less and we had to start the whole process over again. I never usually wound up in bed until 1 or 2 in the morning, sometimes later.
Exhaustion took such a toll on my body and mind that I could hardly function at times. I then bought a whole lot of books about sleep training, from “no cry” methods all the way to “put them in bed and don’t go back in until morning no matter what.” Yeah, let me just say that last one seemed cruel and awful to me and I tossed the book without ever trying it.
We finally found a system that worked for us, a blend of ideas from several books and tweaked for our needs. It was a rough first three weeks, but it worked. From then on, bedtime was so easy. Lotion, jammies, teeth, story, rocking, song, bed. Ten minutes every night. Not hours upon hours. Minutes! I loved it. Choo-choo went in to bed drowsy but awake, fell asleep on his own, and didn’t wake up until morning. If he cried, I’d go calm him down with more rocking, but that usually wasn’t necessary.
As Choo-choo has grown older, though, he has learned the power of asking for more. More stories, more songs, more hugs and kisses. He has also learned the art of the stall. For every thing we need to do, Choo-choo says, “Not yet. Soon.” Brushing his teeth takes longer now, getting him dressed takes longer. What used to last ten minutes a night tops is now into the thirty minute range.
Then of course, there is the fact that Choo-choo has become a very squirmy child who has learned how to fight the tiredness he feels. Our rocking time in his chair used to be relaxing for both of us. Now, he wiggles and reaches for his dresser or the decals on his walls. He plays with the cushions on the chair. He has to get down to go collect a stuffed animal then another one.
Needless to say, this has taken the relaxation out of the process. I have learned, however, that after calmly telling him to settle down and stop wiggling, I can yawn and carry him over to his bed and he will understand that he has to go in there because Mommy wants to sleep. He seems to feel better about letting me go to bed than admitting he needs sleep as well. Using my exhaustion as a reason for bedtime has been a great tool in getting him go to sleep.
Now, sometimes, I do hear him talking to himself once I go downstairs. He might play with his toys for a few minutes. Usually, though, he settles down by himself and is ready to drift off to dreamland.