Sunday, July 15, 2012

Little Joshua Growing Up

Note: This is a novel of a post. If you're not interested in how Joshua got switched to a "big boy bed", just skip to the bottom, leave me a comment about how awesome I am, and move on with your life. 
Now when Joshua learned how to crawl, and when he learned how to walk, and when he started talking, I was super excited that he could finally do those things. I was excited that he could get around by himself--no more moving him every 5 minutes--and that he could start to tell me what he wanted--instead of me trying things until he stopped crying.
A couple weeks ago I took Joshua on a trip with me to California and Lake Tahoe and I will blog about that trip another time. However, on that trip we shared a room with my sister and her 3- and 1-year-old daughters (and passed around a flu). Needless to say, we didn't get much sleep on the trip.
Joshua started to get super clingy at nap time and bed time. If you know Joshua, you know that this is the exact opposite from how he usually is. Since birth, whenever he has been tired, he has squirmed and struggled to get OUT of my arms and into a bed so he can sleep. It had its pros and cons. Pro: I could just put him in his bed, and he'd go to sleep on his own. He'd fall asleep in his bassinet and then crib and in the carseat just fine. Con: He had to be put down in order to sleep. He would hardly ever just fall asleep in my arms making 3-hour church very long. Plane rides were also a struggle. Pro: I didn't have to snuggle with him until he was asleep and then sneak him into a bed without waking him up. Con: I hardly ever got to just snuggle with him while he slept (nor while awake).
Anyway...It's like once he hit 18 months someone flipped a switch. (We went to California on his 18-month-day.) So in order to make the most of the little sleep we were getting, and to keep him from waking up the girls, I would snuggle with him until he fell asleep and then either sneak him into the pack-n-play or sneak him off of me and onto the bed next to me (or wait until he started puking again and run him into the bathroom...tmi?).

Falling asleep in the high chair at Tahoe
I figured it was mostly because of the trip we were on--the new places, the new people, the late nights, the different activities, the odd nap-times. I thought that when we'd get home, he would recognize his crib and go back to his normal sleep habits. I. was. wrong.

Taking a nap on the beach at Tahoe.
The first night back he tried to climb up me as I tried put him into his crib, and then cried his eyes out for half an hour until he fell asleep. The next night was a similar story with an additional mid-night wakening and transferring him into our bed.
The next morning was Sunday and I got a brilliant idea. *imaginary light bulb illuminating with a "ding" noise* We have an extra-long twin mattress that Dave used before we got married. I figured at least this way I could get him to sleep in the twin bed and then I wouldn't have to transfer him anywhere, I'd just sneak out of the room once he was asleep. We took down the crib that morning and put the twin mattress in his room. It worked like a charm for naptime and he slept on it for 2 hours before we had to wake him to go to church (late - whoops!).
That night I laid in with him on the bed with him not cuddling with me, just sleeping next to me, until he fell asleep. He woke up once that night and cried at the door, but I just went back in and put him back in bed and he was fine.
New Bed. Nothing fancy, just an XL Twin on the ground so rolling out won't hurt. I did move the dresser to close up the gap completely the next day.
How can anyone resist taking pictures of sleeping children?! 
The next day (Monday) I was worried about nap time because his naps aren't as deep of a sleep and he takes longer to go to sleep usually. I figured I'd get him really worn out by going to the water park in the morning. It worked so well that he fell asleep in the bike trailer on the way home from the park (maybe a 5 minute ride) and counted that as his nap for the day. Then at 5pm he was falling asleep in the high chair while eating peaches, so I put him in the bed and he was out in seconds (with me lying next to him). I ended up waking him at 6 so he wouldn't go to sleep for the night at 5pm and try to wake up for the day at  5am (no, thank you!). 
That next night I tried to just sit in the rocker while putting him back in bed every time he got up (starting at 8pm), but I got tired of being "the little [young] lady whispering 'hush'" so I eventually (at about 9:30pm) just left and closed him in the room. Of course he cried and cried at the door and I was nervous about him falling asleep right at the door and me not being able to sneak in and move him to his bed.
30 - 40 minutes later, he was quiet and after a few more minutes to make sure he was really asleep, I slowly opened the door. He had put himself back in bed to sleep! (Win #1) That's how I knew the concept was there, he just needed some practice. 
Tuesday he took a nap in the car while we were out running errands and it was long enough that he didn't need another nap (aka: more than 20 minutes) and short enough that he was exhausted by 8pm. That night I didn't even bother lying down with him because I don't want it to become a necessity, so why start out doing it? He cried for maybe 10 minutes, and then put himself back in bed to go to sleep (Win #2: crying time significantly shorter!). He slept the whole night on his bed! (Win #3!)
That morning (Wednesday) was actually pretty funny. I left the door ajar once he was fully asleep, and I woke up to him in the other room saying "lawn mower!" and switching on the air compressor I had left out that night. Side note: He also learned how to/got tall enough to undo the dead-bolt on the front door. I figured if he can get himself out of bed, and open the front door by himself, that's a bad thing, so I got kid-proof handle things for the front and back doors.
Wednesday night, Thursday night, and Friday night were all similar. I'd put him to bed and he'd realize what was happening as I turned off the light and closed the door and would cry at the door for a few minutes and then put himself back in bed. He did have a tear-less nap once, but the other two were just matinees of the night performances.
Tonight, almost exactly one week after switching beds, he went to bed without getting up or crying once. (Win #4!)
Ok, I admit we have some tricks. For most of his life (I don't remember when I started doing this) we have had a solid bedtime routine:
Change diaper/get in PJs
Clean up toys (trying to get Joshua to learn this)
Close bedroom door (Joshua does this now)
Prayer time (kneeling down, folding arms or hands)
Story time (he picks out the book and brings it over - usually his "Diggers" book)
Put the book away (always asks for help once he gets over there)
Find his binky and blanket
Into bed, insert binky, cover with blanket
Say goodnight and I love you and leave room
When we switched to the "big boy bed" all that changed was his bed. The location is the same, the routine is the same. One change at a time. I hope to wean him of the binky soon, especially since he usually chucks it across the room before he goes to sleep anyway (hence find binky step).
And that's the story of how and why we switched Joshua to a big boy bed at 18 months. Unlike other monumental developmental and sometimes literal steps in his life, this step has made me a bit sad. I was sad that he wasn't sleeping in a crib anymore. It means he's really not a baby any more. My little boy is growing up!
However it is super cute when he wakes up in the morning and comes out of his room and says the first thing on his mind. It's usually Mom, or Daddy, or Banana, or Juice.


The Fleming Family said...

Yay! That's cute! You're a good mommy. :-)

Lydia said...

He is getting so big and youre doing a wonderfulmjob :-) he is so stinkin cute