Here’s something I was working on that actually started to change into something completely different halfway through writing it. At the start of this week, when I started this piece of writing and for the 2 weeks previous I had been having one of the lowest and toughest patches so far on my stumbling trip through motherhood. I really leaned on my friends and family for support and they came through admirably for me. In particular a friend who has gone through everything I’ve been through with PND and anxiety. I couldn’t be more grateful.
So, after deciding that there needed to be some changes and things couldn’t continue the way they were we decided to tackle Harry’s co-sleeping phase which was becoming way more than a phase. As things got easier and my mood started to lift, my whole outlook changed. I realised I wasn’t a complete frigging failure after all, even though my brain has been trying me to convince me otherwise for the past 13 months. So I documented the first couple of days of Harry’s bedtime routine change to show you how quickly things turned around.
Well that was a complete effing disaster!! We moved Harry into his own room last night after getting sick of him getting into our bed every morning, he’s just too big. Having a 6ft 5 husband who’s a duvet hog doesn’t exactly help and I end up right on the edge with a dead arm from hanging it off the mattress. Bastards.
I know that 13 months is widely considered to be too old to start putting him in his own bedroom and establishing a proper sleep routine. Believe me I know this and I’ve had people judge the shit out of me for the path I’ve taken but the past is past and I can’t change it now. Even though if I had a time machine, I would travel back 6 months and punch myself in the tit for making every excuse under the sun for not moving him. Every time we got a window of precious time to get his room ready and move his bed, he’d get a cold or have a really bad teething week or get chicken pox. When all those things happened I convinced myself that Harry would be frightened without his mum and dad being a few feet away from him and breathing each other’s morning breath so he stayed in our room. Also we are extremely laid back (lazy).
Things reached a breaking point that even the laziest of parents can’t ignore. The system we had in place was starting at about 8, he has PJs, bottle, then cuddles. We rock him to sleep on the sofa but he struggles. Most nights, he’s not in bed and settled until 9/9.30 which means there’s absolutely zero grown up time after long days spent apart. And then he ends up in bed with us at any time between 1 and 5 a.m. There’s just no time for our marriage at the moment which leads to built up tension and some pretty spectacular monthly arguments.
So on the first night, we tried to use a nicer version of the Controlled Crying Method that Jo Frost/Supernanny uses. 2 of the very best mums I know have both had great success with it so after grilling them and reading an article in Mother & Baby, we gave it a go. Nice calm nappy change, PJs, milk while we watched TV (he won’t sit still for a book) and was tired, pulling at his ear. We thought that was prime time to take him up to bed. I have the timer ready on my phone, we say goodnight, kiss him and tuck him in. I set the stopwatch, aiming to go in at 2 minutes. But within 45 seconds, Harry is screaming at the top of his lungs. He red in the face, sweating and trying to destroy his bed safety rail. He punches the wall, head butts the headboard and generally goes into a Defcon 1 panic meltdown. I sob on the landing. Harry throws himself over the cot bar and onto the floor. At 1 minute 45 seconds, we had to go in. We tried our best to calm him but it just didn’t work. Consider making toddler bed back into a cot right then and there. Sitting cross legged on the floor of his nursery, I rock him to sleep and place him in his bed. We stay for another 50 minutes of stroking him before he finally gave in. Already feeling defeated, he somehow teleported into our bed at about 1.45 am. Fail all around and tired day followed.
Harry has 2 excellent 1 and a half hour naps and a walk out. He has an earlier tea at 5.30 instead of 6.30. We start bedtime at 7:45. He’s calm and tired, take him upstairs at 8, lie him down and kiss him. He starts to fall asleep. We stay in the vicinity and stroke him, occasionally lying him down if he decides to sit up. This continues until 8.40 ish when he finally drops off. He sleeps through the entire night until 7. Win!!!!
Same again, bit of fussiness, falls asleep at 8.30. Wakes up once coughing then back to sleep. Win win!!!!!
It’s getting better each day and with every night of gorgeous sleep in my own space, my mood is lifted even more. I had been having an absolute shit of a week/month. And then giving myself something to focus on, such as bedtime and moving his mealtime earlier has helped immeasurably. There will no doubt be a dark time ahead very soon but I’ve kicked this one’s ass. I haven’t had a single panic or anxiety attack this week and I actually feel like I’m a decent parent who is doing something right. Harry has been downright pleasant since making the changes. Far fewer hyper energy bursts and seems happier.
Next stop: Our mistake with the new routine was absolutely walloping him with a big room change and a big routine change as well. Once he’s used to his new room, then we’ll work on him getting him to self soothe. One step at a time.