The Sleep Struggle is Real


[continued from Instagram]

To co-sleep or not to co-sleep. One of the biggest parenting decisions out there right now.

Savannah slept in her crib from her very first night home and on. I remember so vividly when she transitioned to a big girl bed, and how proud of her I was that she stayed in her bed all night!

It stayed like that for a while, and Drew and I both looked forward to those post bedtime hours to unwind together, to just be husband and wife. The bed transition happened because I was pregnant with Evelyn. Soon, I was getting so emotional about losing our perfect little trio, that I began hosting "Friday night sleep overs in mommy's bed". I'm sure you already know the ending to that story.

We swiftly spiraled into bedtime struggles. Too pregnant and too tired to argue, I gave in easier and easier until one night I noticed that our toddler was co-sleeping with us.

Co-sleeping is SO GOOD! I love having her little body close to me all hours of the night, I love her morning greetings as soon as I open my eyes. It saves so much time in the evenings, and Drew and I get to go to bed at a pretty sweet 9:30 bedtime, too. In the mornings, I don't have to jump out of bed so that one kid doesn't wake the other [they share a room]. Sav and I can just cuddle and talk until Evie wakes up, then begin our morning routine.

I miss my husband. I also fear that I'll have two kids in my bed when Ev is old enough, or that we'll be sleeping with Sav until she's 12. I'm not saying any of that is bad, it's great!... for some people. So began the journey of reading about toddler sleep habits, reading everything, asking for advice from every toddler mom I meet, I was digging and digging...for an easy solution.

Y'all. There ISN'T one.

I read giving them a friend to sleep with helps get them in bed solo; this worked so well for us- she picked 8 stuffed friends to go to bed with her every night, and that's been going well for about two weeks. She still wakes up around midnight to joins us in our bed, though.

The magic of the calendar-sticker system began last night.
I read horrible things about the sticker system, the consensus was once the reward of stickers goes away, the behavior they were teaching does, too. After one late night Pinterest scroll session, with toddler feet on my pillow, I decided a trip to target was necessary [isn't it always?]. I took the girls to Target, took Savannah to the office section and told her, "You get to pick out a really big calendar for your room and you know what it's for? STICKERS!." She was over the moon and picked two packs of stickers and a "tiger" calendar.  I told her, "Every time you take a nap in your bed you can put a star on that day's box!" [celebrate in the ilse of Target] "AND when you sleep in your bed allll night until the sun comes up you can put a smile face sticker on that day's big square!" [more shouting and celebrating].

Drew met up with us after we checked out of target and I left the girls with Daddy to run to a few other stores. He had no idea about my calendar scheme. When I hooked back up with my family I was SO pleased to hear that Savannah had already, excitedly, told her daddy that she wants to sleep in her bed so she can "do her stickers". He shared in her excitement with her and then when he saw me asked what the heck she was talking about. I was so proud of my little 3 year old!

We came straight home, hung her calendar, put her stickers in an easy to reach spot and tucked everyone in THEIR OWN beds. I am not naive, I know this is our next journey and one night is JUST one night, we have many more to go. Last night, I was so over come with anxiousness for our new routine to work, that I stayed awake until her 1:30 am wake up. She came in our room, eyes targeted on our bed, I stood up grabbed her in my arms and asked her why she woke up. "I'm thirsty", she told me. I invited her to come with me to the kitchen, sat her on the counter, poured a little bit of water and asked her if she cared about her stickers? "No, Mommy I just want to go in you bed." I shared with her that she could sleep in my bed if that's what she really wanted, but when she woke up she would not be able to put a sticker in her square. She began to cry, asked me if she could sleep in her own bed and if I would tickle her back. That's what we did, and I didn't hear from her again until 8:30 this morning.

She was standing in the hallway, while Ev and I were playing on my bed, I called to let her know where we were and when she came in she yelled "I did it! I sleep in my bed all by myself!" we jumped up and down and high-fived and hugged and celebrated, then she asked if she could do a sticker. The goal is, that the reward is the restful sleep and the morning celebration, the sticker is to visually track her progress and it's something she does on her own; celebrate the accomplishment, then add the sticker.

We have long weeks, probably even months, ahead of night time wake ups, middle of the night cries, and a really..really strong back bone. The hardest part isn't waking up in the middle of the night, the interrupted sleep. It's saying no to our sweet girl; she just wants to be with us all of the time. All the things you read about how they're only little once and "some day you'll have your bed all to yourself". It's all true and it's the reason we are in this position to begin with. But I don't want to "someday" have a bed with no children in it and have to lay next to a stranger that was once my husband. Do the things for your children, because, yes, they're only little for the shortest amount of time, but do the things for you, your marriage, your other relationships, too, because those are apart of who you were, who you are and who you will be again someday- you're allowed nurture that part of your life, mama.