Bedtime has evolved a lot since Gracie and Luke were born. In the early months, they would fall asleep in the arms of the person who was feeding them. As they grew older and started crawling, they would not fall asleep as easily. Where we used to be able to count on them falling asleep in the middle of Jeopardy, we found they were still awake well into the 8 and 9 o'clock hour. It was a very trying time. When my sleep deprivation reached a point where I was crying 22 of the 24 hours in a day, I bought several books and realized that we had to change our plan. In fact, what we needed was a plan!
In our house, we had a ritual: put the toys away, bath time, bottle and a snuggle, lights out and more snuggling. This worked great until they figured out we were going to leave the room when they fell asleep. Then, we had to resort to helping them get as sleepy as possible and then leaving them in their cribs. I don't want to call it "crying it out." That sounds more drastic than it was. We had a rule about how long we would allow them to cry and we stuck to it. Eventually, Gracie and Luke started falling asleep more quickly and with greater success. The problem was that they still woke multiple times in the night.
Moving to our apartment was a new challenge. We had spent 2 weeks in that awful hotel, all of us in one bed, one room. We had to relearn our routine and get it down cold. People say that you can vary the routine. No way! If Gracie and Luke are not in bed (not necessarily asleep) by 7:30 it will be a very late, wake filled night. The additional challenge, of course, was Daddy in the hospital. I was terrified of trying to put them to sleep on my own. We were a well-oiled machine! The first two weeks were okay. Then Gracie and Luke figured out that I was on my own. I finally broke down and started driving them around in my car until they fell asleep. All of this was still with bottles. I was stuck with them. In my mind, and Gracie and Luke's minds, bottles were the only way they would fall asleep.
After Spring Break and the Great Throwing Up Sickness of 2009, we said goodbye to the bottles and have never looked back! We still use binkies, but I've set an end date for them: August 2009. If it happens sooner, great! Otherwise, I plan to be binky free a few weeks after we move back into our house. This is easier said than done. While they no longer use their binkies at day care AT ALL, they are still a staple here during nap and bedtime. It is going to be a challenge, but one we need to take on now rather than later.
So why is bedtime my topic, yet again? Because it dawned on me tonight that I still face the prospect of bedtime with dread. My mind races.
Will they fall asleep?
How long will it take?
Will one of them fall asleep and the other keep waking the first up?
Will I ever get to start my work (or do the dishes or do the laundry or take a shower....)?
I can honestly say that I worry about bedtime all day long. In fact, I think I am developing a complex!
Tonight, I went through our newest routine: bathtime with the bubbles (and water-coloring fizzies), Wrestlemania (a.k.a. diapering and jammies), books with Mommy, and finally, night-night (lights out). There's always a struggle after lights out. They are clearly tired, clearly want to go to sleep, but they toss and turn and I just lie there in the middle of the bed pulling back any Twinsies who try to escape the bed. There are tears from time to time, but usually 10 - 30 minutes after lights out, I carefully extract myself from the arms of my toddlers and creep from the room.
Generally, they will sleep through the night. Lucas might wake around 4 am and climb out of bed, open the two doors between him and me and crawl into bed with me. He usually falls right back to sleep. Gracie is usually up between 5:30 and 6 am. I always cross my fingers as I fall asleep that she makes it longer than that.
The real challenge, of course, is still to come: moving back into our house. That's a whole other thing to be anxious about! I guess, I'll just have to wait and see how they transition to our house. Hey, maybe it will be really easy and I won't have to worry about it.
Then again, when have Gracie and Luke ever been easy?