No, seriously. I want to tell you about how Pavlov helped me with bedtime.
Azi is 2 and has always been fairly easy about bedtime.
For the first 18 months of his life, bedtime was like this:
- Nurse baby
- Say "it's bedtime!" to baby
- Place baby in his own crib in a dark room (first our room, then his room once he was a year old)
- Kiss baby, say goodnight to baby
- Close door
Yep. That was it. It was like on TV, and it was the dream. A far, far cry from how it was with Aias, who co-sleeped until he was 4 and nursed until through the night until he was well over 3. It wasn't that we hated co-sleeping with Aias, it was that Azi hated cosleeping. He's the type who needs to be in silent, pitch blackness, completely on his own to sleep. To each his own.
At 18 months the bedtime routine got a bit longer. We'd warn him about bedtime, and then we'd go into his room and read what started as 3 books, but eventually ended up being about 20. Bedtime went from 2 minutes, to like 30 minutes. I actually sort of loved it, but some nights, it was tiring. More so to us, than to him.
Then at 2, he seemed to have figured out that he could decline bedtime. He could ask for drinks, say he needed to use the toilet, complain that his toenails were chipped and needed repainting, etc, etc. Before we even got to the books!
After like 4 days of this (don't hate me), I decided I couldn't let this previously perfect situation devolve. We'd been winning so far and I wasn't gonna give this life up. It was when he was having his third drink of the night, I put my phone timer on for 5 seconds.
BEEP. BEEP. BEEP.
He stopped what he was doing and looked toward the beeping phone.
"That's the bedtime alarm" I said "That means it's bedtime. Let's go!"
He trusts me, and I made this declaration with 100% confidence.
He looked at me fairly seriously, and put his arms out to me. We went into his room, put him into his bed, kissed him goodnight, turned the light off, closed the door, and he went to sleep.
The next night, I did the same. The next night, I did the same. The next night, I did the same.
After like 5 nights, I put the alarm on. He stopped what he was doing, ran toward me, and asked to go to bed.
A few nights ago, he was giving Morgan a bit of the run around before bed. So I said "Ok, I'm gonna show you a trick, but you better not judge me" and I did my thing.
Morgan was astonished, because of course, I am tricky and awesome.
I told him he could use the trick, but he could never screw it up or I would be super pissed off. He needed to do it exactly perfectly, so Azi always needed to be in PJs, wearing a night diaper, and with a bottle ready. There could be no delaying. Any pause in the perfect process could possibly break the ritual and then we'd have to come up with another method, which I'm very lazy about.
The only issue now, is that when I time the laundry, I can't use my phone timer. I tried the the other day, and Azi asked for an untimely nap. Had to follow through with it to keep true to my game.
I don't feel guilty about this at all. There's comfort in ritual, and no one has to cry.
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