Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Back to Bed, Ava!


Ava Elise Kolkman... You are the best tired I have ever known but enough is enough!

"How do you solve a problem like Maria" is the song I have been humming along to for well over a year as I have pondered all of Ava's sleep drama. You know how the song goes... I am here to tell you that this song also applies to Ava if you just insert her name instead of Maria!

How do you solve a problem like Maria?
How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?
How do you find a word that means Maria?
A flibbertijibbet! A will-o'-the-wisp! A clown!

Many a thing you know you'd like to tell her
Many a thing you know she ought to understand
But how do you make her stay
And listen to all you say
How do you keep a wave upon the sand?

Oh, how do you solve a problem like Maria?
How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?

When I am with her I'm confused
Out of focus and bemused
And I never know exactly where I am
Unpredictable as weather
She's as flighty as the feather
She's a darling! She's a demon! She's a lamb!

She'd out pester any pest
Drive a hornet from it's nest
She could throw a whirling dervish out of whirl
She is gentle! She is wild!
She's a riddle! She's a child!
She's a headache! She's a angel!
She's a girl!

She is lucky she is wonderful in all other ways because that's her saving grace in the sleep issues department. I will give you a brief history of her sleep pattern so you can understand our darling girl's bed time dilemma and why sleep has been such a battle from the very start.

I am going to refer you to an older post where I talked about Ava and her sleep pattern from birth until seventeen months. It's under my September 2010 entries and is called "Sleeping WOOS to Sleeping WOWS." Feel free to brush up on our past sleep issues so I don't have to start from the very beginning. I will say, it's funny to me to think that I thought we really had her sleep figured out because clearly, we did NOT!

At eighteen months of age Ava began to climb out of her crib. It was a huge shock that she could climb out of her crib because she was still so young. We would put her to sleep and then a few minutes later she was giggling, out of bed, on the run, and ruling the roost! This took a bit of re-directing and eventually she would tire of climbing out of her crib and she would find sleep. It was more of a night time challenge than anything. There is nothing worse than trying to get your child into bed for the night when you have reached the end of your rope. Despite our best efforts we continued to meet resistance with her at bedtime. We did our best every night battling this sleep hurdle while assuring each other this was just a phase that she would eventually outgrow.

Unfortunately, getting out of bed and being re-directed back to bed became a game. She was staying up later and later every night. Rob and I tried everything under the sun from moving her nap time up to decreasing the amount of time she could sleep at nap time. I tried to rock her a little more thinking she needed more attention and positive attention should stop the need for negative attention. I tried the "One Two Three Magic" concept but Rob wasn't one hundred percent on board with counting her bad behavior. We tried moving her bedtime up at night. We tried time out after time out. We tried to encourage good bedtime behavior with special treats or getting to do special things. Bribing her with anything led to threatening her with everything. No matter what we tried it just wasn't working. Then to put the icing on the cake, Ava seemed to require very little sleep to function and be in good spirits... A Kolkman Gene!

On a particularly rough evening while I was at work, Ava was having a meltdown and was begging for momma. I was not due home and Rob had reached the end of his patients. He told Ava she could sleep on my pillow thinking it would calm her down and she would finally sleep. He figured I could move her when I got home at midnight. She is a light sleeper which poses a dilemma for moving her. Moving her didn't always work and waking her up during mid-sleep was a problem too. The nights moving her did work she would wake up around two or three in the morning and wake us up to get back into our bed. I guess parenting exhaustion, work exhaustion, and life in general exhaustion led to Rob and I becoming a soft couple of slackers. We allowed for this chaos to occur in order to sleep a little ourselves. We assured each other again that this was just a phase and it wouldn't last.

I know you are all familiar with the phrase, "Give an inch take a foot!" Well it's exactly how this mess all began. One sleep request became another and so on and so forth. She went from going to bed in our bed at night time to pitching a fit to sleep in there for her naps. That led to wanting all of her night routine done in our bed and before long we were reading side by side together in bed. That led to wanting us to snuggle her in bed for long periods of time. That led to wanting us to just go to sleep at the same time as her. Then to top it off she would still get up in the night and want to eat! SERIOUSLY CHILD the kitchen is closed and I should be off the clock!!! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh.....

Two weeks ago we saw 11pm a few times with Ava. Yes, our toddler was still awake and fighting us on going to bed, despite the fact that we had given in to her entire bedtime charade. I reached my limit and decided to take the bedtime power back. Two years and two months without ever sleeping through a night (minus the one sleepover with Grandma) is insanity. It isn't good for anyone in this household. Selfishly, I need a little time to myself at night to recharge my battery. So the line in the sand was drawn and I was nothing but pure determination.

June 2, 2011 marked the night of the change I so desperately needed in this house. It was the night I placed a little plastic gadget on the doorknob in Ava's room to prevent her from "getting out." I armed myself with a two glasses of wine, Ambien, and earplugs. Rob and I knew we were going to be in for a few rough nights and we prepared for the worse. The night began with me reading a book from the library called, "Back to bed, Ed!" by Sebastien Braun. It's a cute story about a mouse in the same situation as Ava with his parents. Ava totally relates to this character and it has been very helpful in talking with her about being a big kid and what that means for her.

If you haven't read this book and need a good bed time read you should check it out!



Night one was terrible. I put Ava in her crib after our night routine of three books, three songs, a prayer, and lots of rocking in the nursery's glider. She went into panic mode and was bolting out of bed before I could even click the door shut. She screamed bloody murder and pounded on her door for 45 minutes before getting back into bed. I know this because Rob and I were spying on her with our video monitor. She cried for another 15 minutes in her bed before she finally crashed. We waited two hours before opening the door to check her before we went to bed for the night. She had cried so hard she vomited and had spaghetti and curdled milk on her pillow, sheets, and the floor by her bed. So, I cleaned it up to the best of my ability without waking her and we shut the door again gearing up for a full nights sleep!

In the morning I opened her door at 7:30a when I heard her stirring. She was so happy to see me. She told me her door would not open and Ava was sad and crying. It was really pitiful to listen to since I knew exactly why her door was broken. I rocked her while she told me about her night and the door and how she needed her mommy and daddy and we didn't come. I brought up Ed and we talked about being big and staying in our own beds. I asked her if she wanted to have a big surprise for being a big girl and she did. I led her to the living-room for her surprise that Rob and I planned. A new trycicle! Boy was she thrilled then to be a big kid!

Ava and her new bike.


For a week we enforced this routine and she seemed to be getting the hang of it with some protest and thirty minutes or less of crying. Some sleep times were better than others. She did get up in the middle of the night a few times and had a couple crying spells but all in all we were headed in the right direction. I felt terrible doing the door locking thing because she started to get very anxious about bedtime. She started stressing during her bath. She would tell me, "Ava's awake." Then during her rock-a-bye time she would beg me not to shut the door on her because it was broken.

Then as if she couldn't make me feel any more worse or guilty she started talking about a big scary truck in her room. So last night Rob told her if she was a big girl, didn't cry, and stayed in bed he would leave her door open. Just like that she was at ease and went straight to bed. I tried the same promise to her at nap time and bedtime today and it worked like a charm. She still desires to be rocked forever and tries to manipulate me into her crib. (Which I have done in the past and that's tight snuggling!) However, when it's time to kiss-kiss, hug-hug, night-night, sleep tight, and I'll see you in the morning... she has done very well considering where we started just two weeks ago. She also has not gotten out of bed in the night for anything with her door now open and she seems less anxious. Halleluiah, Praise the Lord!

It may be too early to celebrate... BUT... I think we have won! WHOOT-WHOOT!!! I am ever so thankful to be back on tract. NO more, "Back to Bed, Ava!" The challenge of, "How do you solve a problem like Maria," has been solved. Until the next battle, I will be enjoying my evening and sleeping soundly! 

1 comment:

  1. So glad you're getting some sleep at your house and that Ava seems to be getting with the program. Sylvia's been a bit of a stinker for us lately. We get her all put to bed, lights out, and she seems like she's going with the program, and then we come up later on to find out she's turned on her light and is still up, in bed, "reading." :)

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