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A New Sleeping Routine

Harrison is over two-and-a-half years old now. He’s well past the risk for SIDS, or other such risks. Yet, at least once a night, I anxiously check him on the monitors – one, the very basic one we got when he was first born and he slept in a crib in the corner of our bedroom; the other, a better model with an accompanying app on our phones. If he hasn’t moved since the last time I checked, I get nervous. If he’s in an odd sleeping position, I get nervous. At least one night every couple of weeks, I find myself going into his room to check on him even though I rationally know it’s unnecessary.

They say choosing to become a parent is choosing to wear your heart on the last side of your body. It’s true.

Meanwhile, Harrison has had difficulty falling asleep at bedtime, and falling back asleep in the middle of the night, without one of us in the room with him. We’ve been making it work, Betsy and I. We’ve had a pretty good routine going. I typically lie next to his bed until he falls asleep at bedtime, on his older, smaller mattress, next to his full-size bed we got for him when we moved into our new place in August. When he wakes in the middle of the night, we trade off, but normally, I fall back asleep with him most nights, some nights, spending just as much time lying next to his bed as in my own.

It’s a pain sometimes – literally, in one hip or the other. But given my nighttime anxiety, lying next to him gives me incredible peace of mind. But recently, Betsy and I decided we need to get him sleeping on his own throughout the night. We hired a sleep consultant to help us get on track.

His new sleep routine will mean us silently walking him back into his room and closing the door every time he walks out, both at bedtime, and in the middle of the night. (His daycare does this same thing with him at nap time, and it works well.) So no more lying next to his bed with him.

Last night was the last one with our old routine. In the middle of the night, I checked the monitor, and he was sleeping in such a way, I decided to go check on him …yes, irrational, I know. He was fine, of course, and while he stirred awake a bit, I probably could have snuck back out and gone back to my own bed.

But it was the last night before his new routine. Watching him sleep, I felt profoundly sad at this, and so I curled up next to him.

***

This morning, we had a “family meeting” before I went to work. We told him about the new routine, and how it would help him sleep better, and be better rested, and Mommy and Daddy would be better rested too, and we would all have a lot more energy, and more excitement to do more fun things.

He was on board, and even repeated some sentences back to us. Betsy and he made a poster board with the new bedtime “rules” this afternoon, and he got really into it.

And he was into it at bedtime – until that is, it was time to say goodnight and leave him in his room.

It was rough, but we expected that. But in the first few minutes, he kept coming out and calling for me as Betsy kept walking him back into his room. When Betsy and I switched, and I started walking him back to his room, he first thought I was finally coming to bed with him like normal.

He was finally down in an hour.

It’s for the best, I know, but a part of me is a little heartbroken tonight.

Not Any Other Way

Dear Son,

You’re entering a new chapter, a new stage of growth, and you’re not sleeping as well at night as you were. Which means we’re not sleeping well. A couple of nights ago was almost as difficult for your mom as your very early days.

The thing is, I sometimes have a hard time remembering my nights before you. Some nights are a challenge, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Love you, kid.

– Dad