Sorry we've been so quiet around here, folks! So far the month of May has been a real doozy. I mentioned that Katie started climbing out of her crib at night. Well, the problem got worse and worse until we decided to take the front crib rail off. This, naturally, led to an entirely new problem: how to keep Katie from running down the hall, screaming, at all hours of the night!
Katie didn't want to sleep in her crib, with or without the rail, and this completely destroyed our previously bulletproof bedtime routine. We went from a predictable 20-30 minute routine with books, lullabies and kisses, to 3-hour-long tantrums culminating in Katie passing out half-naked on the floor. Naps went completely out the window, too - she refused to even lie down for a second.
I'd like to say that I figured out how to deal with these problems on my own, but I didn't. I enlisted the help of a "parenting coach." Ugh, I'm cringing - am I really that incompetent at parenting that I need a tutor? Evidently, yes! But whatever, this isn't about pride, it's about making it through the day with my sanity somewhat intact. The parenting coach has helped us immensely.
She made some simple but effective suggestions that have ended the bedtime power struggles. Katie was begging for us to turn the light back on at bedtime. We weren't sure if she was testing us or genuinely terrified, so for a couple of nights we caved in to her demands. The coach told us that if we stayed in the room with her, it was perfectly reasonable to turn the lights out. So, in order to prevent Katie from turning the lights back on herself, I unscrewed all the light bulbs in her overhead light and started using a small table lamp instead. When lights-out time comes, I unplug the lamp and put in one of those outlet covers. Power struggle over!
Same with the door. I've already explained about our woes with the lever-style door handles. We ended up buying an inexpensive round doorknob at Home Depot and installing it with a childproof cover on the inside of Katie's room. That way, we can get in and out as necessary but Katie can't get out in the middle of the night and roam the halls. Of course, Katie managed to rip it off twice the first night, but I reinforced it with duct tape and we've been struggle-free ever since. (Except when I neglect to pull the door completely closed - if the closing mechanism doesn't engage, Katie can just pull the door open without turning the handle.)
We also Katie-proofed the rest of the room by taking everything off the top of her cabinets so she wouldn't be as tempted to climb them. We removed the changing table topper from her dresser, because she was holding onto it and climbing up. We removed the knobs on her dresser drawers so they wouldn't be used as a tiny rock climbing wall. Today I mounted her white-noise machine high up on the wall with masking tape. I removed the knobs on her cabinets so she can't open them and play with toys when she's supposed to be sleeping. I had to take down her adorable growth chart, and remove a whole bunch of her books. Her closet door is still a problem - she can totally defeat the childproof lock on it - so I'm looking into another solution.
Doing all of these things has really helped us to be consistent with enforcing bedtime. I think some of the worst parenting moments are the ones where you feel ambivalent about the rules (Should I let her go to the potty one last time? What if she really does have to go??) The parenting coach told me that we could establish a "Last Potty" time as part of our bedtime routine, and that it might take an accident or two for Katie to understand what "Last Potty" meant. She reassured me that having an accident wouldn't traumatize Katie, that it would be a learning experience instead. But oh, the thought of not letting her potty when she really needed to go...that was too much for me! Thankfully we've had a little potty in Katie's room since she was tiny, so I know that if Katie really does have to go, she can.
And what can I say? It's been a bumpy road, full of tantrums and empty of sleep. But I think we're making progress. Katie is now sleeping in her room for nights and naps, although she's still waking up several times a night. But hey, I have to get used to that anyway, right?
I hope we can get back to shareably-funny blog posts soon! You know, instead of just whiny. ;)