Because it's really been a while. Like, an embarrassingly long time. Where on earth have you been?
Oh, wait. That's your question, isn't it?
And the answer is, right here. Just not, er, here, I suppose. But the frequency of our meetups may, in fact, change in the very near future (like, nowish) because of what just went down in my house.
Are you ready?
BOTH OF MY CHILDREN JUST FELL ASLEEP ON THEIR OWN FOR NAP.
Okay, right? RIGHT? That just happened. It's only taken twenty-five and a half months, but it did, indeed, happen.
And it happened because I just cannot lie down with them for nap anymore. And although I've said that roughly 852 times previous to this, I mean it this time. We have, as I think you know, tried this in the past, but it was a horrific experience for all, so it never lasted. And we always did an all-or-nothing approach, meaning they needed to fall asleep on their own for both nap and bedtime. But because it's always such a disaster, we end up going back to our usual routine and I lie there for several hours every day, both loving the closeness and cuddles and cursing the whole damn affair.
This time, however, I decided it might be easier to start with just nap, since the stakes seem so much lower for everyone compared to bedtime. It's been about a week now, barring the last two days I actually did lie down with them for various reasons (more on that later...maybe), but I/we have usually given in and eventually stayed with them till they fell asleep after at least making an effort to do it on their own. But really, all that's doing is telling them we'll eventually lie down with them if they hold out long enough. So I decided today that I just wouldn't do it, no matter how long the crying and banging on doors lasted.
Being that they're two completely different people, they, of course, approach sleeping on their own in two completely different ways. The Goblin Queen, although it makes her sad and she would prefer not to, actually falls asleep fairly quickly and generally without tears when on her own. We have them separated into different rooms, which we've done in the past, but this time we have TGQ in the playroom and King Toad Agooga in the bedroom. I finally asked them who would like to go where, and this was the arrangement they chose. TGQ really likes the idea of sleeping with Lula, their ginormous stuffed dog, who resides in the playroom. So the little crib mattress is in one corner on the floor with Lula lying next to it to make a little cozy spot between her and the wall. TGQ lies down and snuggles with Lula and I cover her and (part of...did I mention she's extremely large?) Lula with my old baby blanket, TGQ's preferred nap blanket (my heart!), and I don't hear a peep out of her again. Until she's been out for 45 minutes, of course. 45 minutes. Every damn time. Regardless of whether she's alone or sleeping with someone, her little internal sleep clock wakes her up after 45 minutes of napping, and she's generally mostly still asleep and totally confused at that point, and often very upset. However, she'll almost always go back down in very short order if one of us goes to her and sits with her and hums our lullaby, a slowed down version of Teddy Bears' Picnic (The Barbarian made up several versus of personalized lyrics when they were newborns, but we just hum at this point). And she'll usually be out for another 45 minutes or so at that point, so all in all, not too shabby.
But, as I think I've mentioned before, the idea of falling asleep on his own is just unfathomable to KTA, and he gets so, SO upset. When we've tried this in the past, he easily stayed up sobbing for an hour or two and we just couldn't handle it after a while. His crying is just SO SAD! So for the bulk of the past week, I've waited as long as I could and then given in and stayed with him till he fell asleep, sneaking out afterwards. But I think I was bolstered today by the fact that he actually didn't start crying right away when I left, which I took to be a positive development. I checked in on him every 5-10 minutes, tucking him back in and telling him I would be right in the other room folding laundry while he slept (only part of that ended being true, of course, but he'll never know). After what ended up being the last check-in, TGQ hit her 45min mark, and when I came back out of the playroom, he had stopped crying. I peeked through the hole where the doorknob should be (don't ask) and saw that he was still in bed and had his arms up over his face, as he sometimes does while falling asleep, so I took that as a good sign. And it was--I peeked in a few minutes later and he was totally out. YIPPEE! I think it took an hour or so, but it was much less traumatic than previous attempts in general, and in the end, he did it on his own--and that's HUGE.
And did I mention it's only been a week and part of that time, I caved and slept with them? I really didn't expect it to be this "easy," and it's really making me believe this was finally the right time to do it. It also reinforces our decision to ditch this effort previously when they just weren't ready. I really feel confident that approaching parenting--and the myriad difficult decisions that come with it--as something you do with your child, as opposed to to your child makes the most sense. Yes, I've been told that if I needed to get up and go to work in the morning, I would have sleep-trained long ago (the underlying assumption apparently being that my "job" is in some way less taxing and requires less sleep than "real" jobs), and perhaps that would have been the case. Who knows? What I do know is that respecting our children enough to allow them to tell us what they need and when they need it as early and as often as possible works for us.
And it clearly works for them. Five or so months ago, we tried this and it was a few of the most horrible weeks we've ever experienced as a family. But a week in this time around and we are well on our way to success.
And that makes me very, very happy.
For all of us.
Especially you, of course, for the increased frequency of ridiculous blathering you'll now be subject to.