Of course, God Forbid I actually have an image of said bed, because I’m no longer allowed to take photos of Beck, per her, this week.
So Beck is in her new room! We did this several weeks ago but I waited until I had some good details/methods and also wanted to make sure it stuck – the first few nights made us think she’d NEVER manage a new room and sleeping arrangement, we’d never sleep again, it’s all going to pot, you know. Normal parenting drama.
We decided to move Beck into her new room at about two and a half for exactly one reason: we wanted her to have plenty of time to get her act together before the baby was born. Most guides suggest sometime in the age 2-3 to move out of a crib, but consensus is that the longer the better to stay in a crib for sleeping and safety purposes. The “move earlier” recommendations are for children who are climbing out of their crib, but Beck never tried that. We won’t have the baby sleeping in the crib for several months, but I didn’t want to wait until he was born to move her for two reasons. First, I wanted to have plenty of time to focus on just her through the transition, and second, I didn’t want her to have a sense that she was being shoved out because of him. Of course, that’s kind of what is happening, but the truth is she was ready or almost ready to move out of the crib, so in hindsight I’m glad we moved her when we did. If she was younger we’d have waited until the baby was absolutely ready for a crib which would have bought us some more time if we had needed it.
We made a big deal of getting rid of the guest room furniture “for your new room!” painting and letting her see the progress, and moving in new furniture bit by bit so she could monitor the change in the room and get a little bit excited. There were a few days where all the furniture except for the bed was here – in the picture above you can see that we had the mattress on the floor at first. During that week or two she LOVED hanging out in her new room, helping me move some of her toys, reading books to the dogs (?), and generally existing in the space.
The excitement did not hold when it came time to actually sleep in the bed. We started on a Friday night (in case it didn’t work, which it didn’t) and made a big deal about it, new sheets and blankets and all that, did her regular bedtime routine, and as soon as we got up to leave she fully melted down. She screamed and wept and howled and the funniest part about the whole thing was that she didn’t get up. We figured it was because she was used to her crib that she couldn’t get out of, so we just watched her losing her mind on the monitor, which was super sad and entertaining. Choice phrases included “I don’t WANT this big girl room!!” and “I need to get out of here!” which was just hilarious to us. We used our old go-to-bed methods from when she was a baby; we waited 15 or 20 minutes then went in and basically repeated the entire process.
After two hours it didn’t work so we gave up and put her in her crib for fear of traumatizing her. The next day, Saturday, we did the exact same thing for naps with the exact same results – screaming and no sleeping, into the crib because we still have to sleep in this house no matter what or things just get worse. That night we had people over for dinner so we put her to bed in her crib – another house rule is that we do not try new things with an audience – and then we tried AGAIN on Sunday. Sunday the nap was similarly traumatizing – lots of crying, but we kept at it, and the child finally fell asleep after 30 minutes or so with MUCH coaxing and calming from Jay, who does almost all bedtime duties during the weekend because he is the preferred putter-to-bed.
We high fived, naturally. Sunday evening was similar, a long lead-up with some tears but eventual sleeping in the bed, which was good enough for us. After that it was a little better each day, with a few notable exceptions early in the process. Beck slept with a LOT of friends in her crib, but for some reason wasn’t interested in having them in her new bed, until one nap where she asked me to get every.single.one. I did, patiently, and it took two or three trips because of the sheer quantity. I tucked her in and closed the door and maybe 90 seconds later was met with full-on howling that THESE FRIENDS DO NOT BELONG IN MY BIG GIRL BED. I went back in and suggested that she put them on the floor, which, as you can guess, was wrong. The friends had to be taken BACK to the crib where they stayed comfortably for the next month or so until she decided maybe she’d like to play with them again.
After Beck got comfortable in her room, she realized that she could get out on her own and open the door. The second or third night she made it all the way to the living room half asleep and Jay woke with a start to hear her crying and found her standing in front of the couch in tears, but mainly still asleep. That of course made me convinced that she is definitely a sleepwalker and definitely going to walk out into the street and we should DEFINITELY get hotel locks on all of the doors but install them way up top so she can never ever get to them but….it only happened the once and I’ve all but let it go.
The freedom to get up and roam about has renewed our resolved to help her sleep the correct number of hours each night (11, seriously), but we also try to give her some freedom if she needs a minute to get herself to sleep. She knows we can see her in the monitor so she doesn’t really get up and play or anything like that, but a few nights a week she’ll open and close her door a few times but never actually come out of her room after she’s been put to bed, which is funny. It only lasts 20 minutes or so so we ignore it. We only go in her room after bedtime if she’s crying or comes out to ask us something specific, but that nonsense hasn’t really started yet. I was the QUEEN of nighttime needs as a child (“you forgot to cut my toenails!” is a family favorite), so I’m bracing myself for those days, which I’m envisioning will start as soon as the baby is born.
The mornings were a big rough at first because as soon as Beck woke up she would get straight up and come to our room, which for whatever reason happened at 5am most days. In her crib she’d hang out for a big and then fall back asleep, but I think the temptation to get out is probably pretty strong. We put her back to bed every time this happens, even if she cries, because there is just no way she’s not tired at 5am, and I sure as hell am not prepared to parent at that hour. Some of that early waking seemed to come from noise; occasionally Jay gets up that early to work or I go to the bathroom, so we’ve just started being extra quiet anytime we want her to sleep because our house is LOUD and her new room is front and center – on the front of the house, one wall next to the front door, facing our room and the main hallway. It’s…not a great setup for a light sleeper. I got her a sound machine which she 1. loves and 2. refuses to leave on while she sleeps so….great.
So here’s what we’ve learned and are continuing to do. Patience, as always, but extra EXTRA patience with bedtime. I’m a terrible sleeper and have been my entire life, and I never want her to feel sad or shame surrounding going to bed – it’s not very calm to having someone screaming GET YOUR ASS IN BED at you, so we aren’t doing that even though we want to. We also have a pretty long leadup to bedtime even if that lead is loud yelling – lots of talking about “right after this we’ll do xxx” so she’s never surprised. We also got a clock for her room and are teaching her when 7am is so she knows when to come out of her room. It’s not a digital clock so it’s taking some time, but I think that learning to read analog clocks is important so we’re OK withe the wait. Her bedtime routine usually involves racing around the house naked with the dogs (?), getting into PJs, reading, then watching videos of some sort on YouTube with Jay. Bonnie Raitt live at Austin City Limits and Animal Planet are current favorites, and no I don’t see an issue with screen time right before bed and yes I’ve read the research on it. It lasts maybe 10 minutes, usually less, is educational, and she likes it, so there.
I love seeing Beck in her little bed because she’s SUPER proud of it. She never will let us put her in it, crawls in every night by herself, and tells us goodnight like this freaking teenager with a paci and doll and it’s just so adorable. Of note, she does still sleep in a Pack N Play when she has grandparent sleepovers, which hasn’t been a problem and keeps her contained in houses with stairs, so we’re going with it as long as she allows it.
The last thing you should know is that now that she understands the importance of sleeping until 7am, as soon as she wakes up and identifies enough light outside she RUNS into our room where I’m usually asleep (lazy pregnant people LOVE sleeping until 7am you know) and says “Mama! I slept all the way through the night! I’m so happy!” and then we start our day. It’s the best thing in the world.