It’s been said that once you have children, you’ll never sleep again.
No, darn it. Sorry. I always get that confused with the “sleep when the baby sleeps” phrase everyone throws around. (Because that totally happens. Right?) This is the one that gets written on every baby card/advice note/apology after it caused the mother to stab herself in the eyeball just so she can stop reading it.
The first one fits into the category of things no one tells you about having kids. Until you’re pregnant and you’ve reached the point of no return. They let you live in ignorance and then BAM! Reality check. Also, there’s at least 17 other things that no one tells you about having a baby.
The summary is this. Once you have kids, sleep becomes “the one that got away“. Even if you do manage to shut your eyes long enough for your body to relax out of the fetal position you rocked yourself to sleep in, very few of us get a full nights rest. At least not every night. Definitely not every night.
Over the last week we have moved our two year old from a cot to his very own bed. So the knowledge of this transition is nice and fresh, which means I can easily impart my wealth of knowledge on to you. Here goes…
How To Get Your Kid To Sleep In Their Own Bed
- Realise that having your baby co-sleep with you from birth might not make this process easier. Try and find a time machine to fix this.
- Recover from the mild electrocution caused by fake time machine. Accept that there’s nothing you can do except pull on your big girl brookies and fight the urge to give up already.
- Purchase bed for toddler.
- Make a big deal out of it, hoping that the hype will increase the likely hood that they will be keen to sleep there.
- Calm down toddler who is now traumatized and will not even look at the bed without crying.
- Dial down the hype to a safe level of, well, nothing. Pretend that it’s not there for a couple of days.
- Forget trying to make the room look like the baby section of the next Elle magazine. Buy bedding that you know your baby will love.
- Before permanently searing out your eyeballs, return the Barney bedding you bought in haste. It’s no Elle magazine interior, but we do have standards people.
- Apply the appropriate level of excitement when putting bedding on the bed. Start by throwing it on the bed and running out the room. If there are no tears, return and unpackage it, hiding in the cupboard while it acclimatizes. Wait 5 minutes. Now fully spread the covers on the bed. Consider bringing the toddler in.
- Take 10 deep breaths, fetch toddler in other room and slowly walk into the room. Be prepared to run out and placate with TV if necessary.
- Pat yourself on the back for getting this far.
- Consider your options and take your stress reliever well before bedtime. Down a bottle of Rescue Remedy, make a hot cup of tea or cry into a glass of wine.
- Try and keep to your normal routine of making dinner and bath time, then once they’re smelling delicious and all snuggly in their PJs, take one long deep breath of their baby-ness. Remember this smell. It’s probably the last time you’ll smell it and you’ll need to cling to some good memories later on.
- Put the child into bed, under the covers. Distract them from trying to escape by keeping to your routine – read a book, sing a song, pray – just keep their mind off it.
- Confirm with child that it is sleep time and that they need to go to sleep now. Give them a kiss goodnight.
- Leave the room.
- Ignore shouting and crying for you to come back into the room.
- High five your partner when the crying stops.
- Recover from the fright you got when the little critter crept up behind you and grabbed your leg.
- Take them back to bed.
- Repeat steps 16 through to 20, only about 5 times.
- Realise that this is not going to happen without some intervention.
- Make yourself comfortable on the bed next to your child and try and cuddle them to sleep.
- Wipe the tears off your face before they fall on your kids face. Hey, accepting that they’re growing up is never easy, it’s OK.
- Celebrate that the child, is now well and truly asleep.
- Stare at their angelic face and wonder how you can go from desperately wanting them to sleep, to considering waking them up to be with them some more.
- Fight that urge. Because. Come on. It’s OK to need some me time and you’ve WON this bed thing. Knocked it right out the park!
- Prance back into the lounge with that look on your face that says, I’m the best parent ever and pour yourself a celebratory drink.
- Find every single free pillow in your house and encircle your child in them.
- Hold your breath when you hear the child coughing
- Continue celebrating on the uncomfortable, pillowless couch.
- Suddenly realise that this means you no longer have a baby.
- Cry into celebratory drink, but drink it anyway.
- Fall into bed – that’s now surprising bigger without a toddler in it.
- Get a fright when someone tries to cuddle you. Realise that your partner still sleeps here and it’s all OK, you just haven’t seen them in a while.
And maybe, just maybe… There’ll be another baby to look after soon.