Remember this post about surviving the four month sleep regression (so do I...I can still feel my temperature rise just thinking about it)?
Who knew I'd be living through yet another sleep regression with my 3+ year old? I'll be honest, I didn't see this one coming. I thought after the one year mark when I had two kids sleeping through the night I could finally breathe a breath of relief. I had made it through the terrible sleep phase. And we had...for about two years anyway.
I'm not exactly sure what happened with Robbe. It could have been some sort of growth spurt or mental leap he was dealing with. It could have been his newly three-year-old-self asserting his power over me (there have been a number of those moments). It could have been an inability to wind down at the end of some fun + exciting days. Or, and this is probably the ticket, it could have been that he stopped sucking his thumb. Ding, ding, ding.
Almost simultaneously when he stopped sucking his thumb, terrible sleep tantrums began. Once he fell asleep, he was totally fine and slept through the night. The problem was with getting him into bed and being able to successfully leave the room. He would fight. He would scream. He would go limp. He would cry. And you remember that Chase and Robbe share a room, right?
After almost four months, I'm finally feeling confident enough to say we survived, but not entirely unscathed. Here's how we came out on the other side.
What we tried but didn't work:
- Being super sympathetic - I'm sorry you're feeling sad, would you like another hug? Can I sing you a song? Would you like a night light on?
- Being stern - This is not acceptable. You have never had a problem going to sleep before. On the count of 5 I'm just walking out.
- Negotiating - Would you like to climb into bed yourself or should I lift you into bed?
- Incentivizing - If you go to sleep nicely now, you can pick out a special reward when you wake up.
- Threatening - Chase will be moved out of the room if you can't stop screaming.
You get the idea.
What finally worked:
- Sticking to our guns and not giving in - He never won the fight. Never. Four months of tantrums before practically every nap + bed time, but Chris and I held strong. I'm certain that if we had given him any flexibility (offered to lay with him, gave in and let him skip nap, appeased him with whatever that night's request was), this thing would still be going on.
As it was, I still questioned our strategy throughout. It lasted SO long after all. But now that everyone happily and quietly goes to bed again every night, I'm convinced it was just another phase that he needed to work through on his own (with the help of our not-so-flexible boundaries).
I guess in the scheme of things, if we can go another 2+ years without any sleep challenges, we can consider ourselves pretty lucky. It's all about perspective.
**Side note: Robbe is fake sleeping in the photo above. Can you see that little smirk peeking out?**