image by Alissa
I've NEVER been able to get past the way a baby crying at bedtime sort of sucks the last bit of the day's life out of you. You would think that with the fifth child I would have learned how to shrug it off. Not. Even worse, maybe, is a five year old crying at bedtime. Ania's never really done bedtime gracefully. But the last 7 months have been seriously horrible.
Every part of the getting-ready-for-bed process has been crisis triggers for her over the years. Brushing the teeth. Washing the hair. Wearing certain pajamas. Potty issues. Can't find the stuffies. The blankets aren't just so. Etc. All have sparked the nightly meltdown. It's not that she's naughty, although I'm sure there is some of that...its just hard for her. And me. Once she is finally settled into bed, we have civil time. We chat and talk and read and laugh and sing. But as soon as I get up to leave, she falls apart.
She cries, sometimes sobs. She calls to me and asks questions. Fears. Sadness. Completely unsettled. Six months ago it included screaming and anger. Without exaggeration, it sometimes took over 2 hours of this before she was asleep. By the end I would be crying too. And nobody in the house could sleep until it was over.
There were lots of contributing factors in the fall. Kaisha moved out. Which meant that Ania's roommate moved out of her room and it was her first time ever sleeping alone. Then her dad moved away. In the spring, my job shadow hours started before she woke up. So twice a week there was no mommy in the house when she got out of bed. Then her Papa died. I'd cry too. I wavered between gushing with compassion for her to pulling my hair out. It was a nightmare. And at the worst possible time of day for me. I was exhausted and there was never a break.
This past week, with the exception of Wednesday night, she fell asleep every night without crying!!! No crying. No questions shouted out. No whimpering or growling or talking mad to her stuffs. Mostly no emotional meltdown. Ahhhhhh. And she is starting to fall asleep quickly. Maybe within 10 minutes of me leaving the room.
You have no idea how HUGE this is for her and I. Huge.
We have the most adorable bedtime routine now. First, I try to start getting her ready for bed at 7:30. Which usually doesn't quite happen. One great thing is that [drum roll...] she is brushing her own teeth now. *sigh of relief* Some nights I pick out her pajamas [feel the tension] but some nights I let her wear whatever she wants [oh, the joy]. Then I sit on her bed and we basically do a reading lesson for about a half hour. [She LOVES it!] We pray. We sing. I lay next to her while she reads to me. I kiss her. She asks if she can come snuggle me in bed in the morning. I always say yes and tell her I love to see her every morning. I turn out the light, go straight to the bathroom to get her a drink (even if she already had a drink), walk back in with the light off, stand there while she pretends to drink, put the cup on the dresser and walk out.
Last fall I would have paid thousands to have her not cry at bedtime. Now...I would pay thousands to keep it this way.