Isn’t it amazing how quickly kids can jump from school schedule to holiday break and yet how long it takes to get them back into a school schedule? I don’t know about you all, but it has been a rough couple of weeks for us trying to transition back.
Let me back up a bit. In case you missed it, our second precious child, Reagan, has been the worst at bedtime since she was born. She could not, would not, go to sleep unless she was held and cuddled. No, not like just in the first few months of her life. Her entire five years.
And I struggled with letting her figure it out. After all, she is my baby. Plus, working away from home made me cherish the time I spent at night with her. I mean, surely, she wouldn’t want to be cuddled to sleep every single night for the rest of her life. And, one day, I would miss those cuddles, right?
Cue pandemic — and locked in the house 24/7 last spring. I am not going to lie. By the time bedtime came around, neither of us needed to spend time together.
So, it made it easier for me to let her figure out how to put herself to sleep. We started slowly and I would wait until she was close then sneak out. By the time summer came around, it was prayers, hugs, kisses and walk out the room. Sweet victory!
Oh, she would still come into my bed and curl up around 4 a.m. every morning — but those go-right-back-to-sleep cuddles, I will never turn down. They are my favorite.
But, you guys, ever since holiday break, I feel like I have a sleep-regressing infant. She refuses to put herself to sleep. Nightly, she insists on Paul or I snuggling her until she is off to dreamland.
And I, being back to the office at work and feeling all the guilt, have struggled with “sleep training” her again. Even when we try, she is out of that bed every dang 5 minutes. And I am not even going to tell you about Daddy sharing the story of the boy who cried wolf.
OK, yes, I am. You see, Daddy forgot the sheep in the story (I had to reread it as well). So instead of the wolf getting the sheep, in Daddy’s version, the wolf got the boy.
And even though I have retold the story numerous times — seriously like a broken record — and reminded her that the boy was fine, she still goes back to it. Or, she will switch it up a bit and her sweet, empathetic self cannot fathom anything happening to the sheep either.
Regardless, the lesson of the boy who cried wolf is far beyond her ability to understand it at 5 years old, and that darn wolf has been the reason that she now cries wolf even more at bedtime.
As you can imagine from the lack of a good chunk of sleep each night, we are dealing with a grumpy, emotional babe each morning — from peeling her out of bed in the morning to tears of “I don’t want to go to school because I miss you.” Insert heartbreak emoji!
The worst came when I refused to lie with her any longer one night (it had been hours), and she asked me if she could have my shirt so she could smell me. Ugh, talk about feeling all the guilt — like I had just hung her out to dry and made no effort to console her.
Getting back into all-day school after having a few weeks off is a big adjustment for such a young kid. Add in missing shuteye time, and it’s like the perfect storm. But man, it has been a rough couple of weeks for us.
Until the routine kicks back in and we get back to some sort of normalcy, and when I get to my wits end on bedtime, emotional mornings, and all the guilt, I try to shrink myself down to her level. Such a small child with a big old world of worries.
From lots of reminders that we are always there, planning fun events in the evenings, giving special one-on-one time together, reassuring her that we miss her too, and beating that dang wolf out of her head, we are working on it and are hopeful for a peaceful bedtime again soon.
And I continue to remind myself that this too shall pass. And one day, inevitably too soon, she will be just fine putting herself asleep again. And I will probably be longing for these nights when all she wanted was me.
Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mother. She lives in Bath Township with her husband, Paul, and their daughters, her writing inspirations, Maylie and Reagan.