My daughter will fight sleep like she is a ninja. Occasionally, my husband and I have to dodge flying stuffed animals as if they are ninja stars being viciously thrown at our face. Once in a while there is even a swift kick to one of our faces and arms thrown in every direction. Every night we hear the same string of phrases coming out of our two-year-old's mouth consisting of, "Can I have milk?" "I want to play a game," "one more story!" "I have to potty," and many other common requests from a two-year-old that is just not tired.
We have tried it all; we have bought the books, we have searched all the websites. But where is that magical piece of advice we are looking for? Well, I have a confession for all of you parents that feel the same way, there is no golden piece of advice out there, you might as well stop looking for it.
I feel like we have been searching for the perfect antadote to get our child to go to bed in a calm and collective manner, and I have come to conclusion that there is none. Mostly because every night is different. For example, tonight Zoe went to bed early because we played disc golf at the park and skipped her afternoon nap. But I can guarantee you that she will be by my bed at midnight asking me to play.
So why do we, as parents, continue to look for advice from the internet? Have we lost the confidence in our parenting skills? What happens when you throw all the advice out the door? I will tell you what happens, your family will be happier. Why? Because instead of bedtime being a stressful routine part of the day you are enjoying the last moments when your child will be awake.
I would rather give my child that cup of milk, take her to the potty, lay down and hug her and give her a million kisses than fight with her. She is still going to bed at a reasonable time, around 8 o'clock, but she has been more relaxed than she has in previous months. I believe it's because we aren't stressing out about her sleeping. We aren't telling her a million times to go to bed and standing outside of her door listening to her cry. I can tell you what we have tried, what has failed miserably, and what seems to work for both our kids.
Anthony Jr's Bedtime routine: Bath, Boob, Bed. Seriously, this child is a saint when it comes to bed time. He has never been the type of child to want to be cuddled before he finally rests his eyes. We give him a blanket and he usually shoves it in his face and falls asleep.
Which brings us to Zoe.
When Zoe was an infant she had a hard time falling asleep on her own. Often she had to fall asleep nursing and/or being rocked. After she weaned her bedtime routine consisted of rocking her and singing multiple songs (at least she knows her ABC's now). She started to do really well until we moved her to a toddler bed and "OMG I CAN GET OUT OF BED AND PLAY". Once Zoe realized she could get out of bed she was impossible. Many nights she would walk out of her room up to 20 times before finally giving up and crying herself to bed.
Then came the tantrums.
Then the excuses.
And that's pretty much where we are now. We have tried oils, bribing, and many other methods. But what seems to be working right now is letting her believe that bed time is her idea.
Honestly, I feel like my husband and I could read hundreds of books and thousands of online articles and we would continue to have the same problem with Zoe. Instead of changing her, I changed myself and my outlook on everything. Before I know it, Zoe is going to be able to read on her own and she isn't going to want "one more book," and she isn't going to ask me to help scare the monsters out of her room. I will no longer get that hour every night where she kisses me over-and-over to prolong her slumber. I don't want to look back 10 years from now and regret not reading that extra book, or letting her fall asleep next to me. I want to look back and think "Man, my kids were healthy and happy and I did the best I could for them."