As I talked about in a previous post, Frances has been a troubled sleeper for nearly five months now and it is just about to kill Will and me.
About a week ago on one of my weekend morning runs, my mind wandered (as it usually does) through roughly this train of thought:
Gosh I am really tired this morning…I think Frances woke up at least five times last night…I thought this would be over after she moved past infanthood…in fact, this reminds of the “sleep training” method that we tried with her…letting her sooth herself back to sleep…wait a second, maybe that’s what is going on with her…she’s forgotten how to get herself back to sleep…excellent, now I have a theory, how the heck are we going to implement a plan?
I think what really solidified the above notion was hearing Will talk about his nightly routines with Frances when she woke up. It would begin with her coming in to our bedroom, waking up Daddy for help with whatever she needed (water, bathroom, “my leg hurts”), Daddy would fix whatever was needed, escort the diva back to her room whereby she would proclaim “I can’t see,” leading to Daddy turning on the guest room light (not her own room light because that “was too bright”), followed by a small sip of her bedside water, finishing with the pièce de résistance for Daddy to fill the water cup “all the way to the top!” Yes, my wonderful angel has her father wrapped many, many times around her finger. And Will doesn’t have a mean bone in his body to say no to any of her requests – he gave an inch and she took the entire mile (and then some). The phrase “all the way to the top!” kept echoing in my head during that recent run and I realized that we had created a little nighttime monster.
Enter the boot camp regimen.
What Will and I decided (or rather, what I decided and Will thankfully endorsed) was the following:
· Will sleeps in the guest room, but unbeknownst to Frances. Will is wonderful; Will is a better person than I am; Will cannot be mean even if he tries. Therefore, Will cannot be a boot camp instructor – he is only there to observe.
· I sleep in our room with the door closed.
· We tell Frances the following:
o She is a big girl and can get water, use the bathroom, get her fifth “friend” to sleep with, whatever the issue, all by herself.
o She cannot come into Mommy and Daddy’s room anymore because the door will be locked.
· We do not tell Frances the following:
o Our door is of course not locked.
o Will is in the guest room to listen out for Frances just in case there is a true emergency.
And do you know what? It worked the very first night.
Now, we did have a rough patch on night #2 when Frances wanted someone to put lotion on her legs at 2:00 am. It was particularly rough since she woke me up from a deep sleep and it would have been so easy to just cave in and put on the stinking lotion. But somehow, through my foggy brain, I knew that if I bent to her request that night, she would make the same or similar request the next night and we would be right back to the princess’s square one. So, for an hour, we had some “tough love” boot camp training going on. At one point, Will came out of the guest room to help me out – I sent him right back in.
Ultimately, everyone is much happier now. Frances isn’t getting up each and every time she wakes because she knows she’s in charge of herself now – it’s just too much trouble to get water 4+ times a night if Daddy isn’t the one getting it for you. Plus, I think she secretly likes being more independent and I have noticed her needing less help with other things during the day.
Will and I are finally, finally getting uninterrupted sleep for the first time in many months. And Will has graduated from the guest room back to our room – he did very well as an instructor-in-training and may be promoted when George turns three.
I have no idea how the boot camp routine will be implemented on our upcoming trip to Lynchburg this week – we may just have to bend the rules a bit and explain to Frances that things are special because we are at Nana and Pop’s house.
But, isn’t that always true anyway?