I have an announcement to make. Drum roll, please...
Ahem... Sweetie is finally falling asleep completely on her own! (You thought I was going to say something else, didn't you?)
Yah, well, it may not be big news to all of you, but to me, this is HUGE!
And once again, I owe my success to the inspired teachings of T.V.'s "The Super Nanny" (she helped my husband and I earlier this summer when Sweetie decided to make a jailbreak from her crib).
This time around, I again adapted the Nanny's thoughts on how to keep your little one from escaping the warmth and comfort of her own bed. But, really, the process for me all started kind of by accident.
It was the Wednesday before Christmas, I think, when I was doing what I usually do - sitting in the dark on a small stool next to Sweetie's bed, waiting until she fell asleep before I crept out of the room. Many of the times as I sit there, I drape my arm around her, "holding her", at her request. Such was the case on this particular night. But this time was different. She was not settling AT ALL, tossing and turning, alternately asking me to hold her and not hold her. Finally, I got fed up and told her I was not going to hold her, I was just going to sit next to her until she fell asleep. She ended up crying herself to sleep that night as I sat in the dark listening to her wail.
Actually, no. As I recall, I ultimately got tired of listening to her cry and told her if she didn't stop, then I was just going to leave. She didn't stop. I left. She got out of bed - but not passed the closed door in the room next to her bedroom. About 20 minutes later, I went up to guide my still-crying, VERY sleepy little girl back to her bed. Within 5 minutes, she was snoring and I left the room.
So, that evening's fight to the finish happened purely by "accident". But it made me think about a plan for the next night.
The next afternoon I told Sweetie that, at bedtime tonight, when I turned out her light I was going to sit on the floor by her bed. I told her that once the light was out, I couldn't talk to her, I couldn't "sleep around of" her, and I couldn't hold her. Who would have thunk it, but she went for it! Oh, I think I did have to say some very brief words to her once the lights were out, but all relaxed, comforting and quick. Within about 10 or so minutes I crept out of her room and she stayed put. I'm sure she didn't even realize I left.
Each successive afternoon I've told her ahead of time what the plan was for that night - each night I would sit just a bit further away from her, and not talk to, sleep around of or hold her. On a few nights she wanted stories told to her in the dark, which was fine. But as I got further away, she had to understand that if she wanted a story, it had to be before the lights went out when I could still sit next to her bedside for a few minutes. In all of these cases, she's miraculously opted for lights out instead of the story.
So, for the last 3 nights I've shown her ahead of time where I'm sitting now - on a pillow on the floor just around the corner from her room. I thought for sure that she'd "test" me at least one of these times to see that I was really there, but she hasn't. Tonight I stood outside her room and waited about 1-2 minutes before I went downstairs to join my husband.
The whole process has taken about 2 weeks, but it has been totally worth it. It really was a very painless exercise, as each night I was able to sneak out within 5 or so minutes of turning out the light. The reasoning being that, she knows I'm not going to talk to her once the light is out anyway, so how is she to know if I'm really still in the room or not?
Now the question is - do I continue to tell her that I'm still sitting on that pillow outside her room each night, with the possibility that one of these times she may in fact get out of bed to test me on my word? Or do I continue to tell her that I'm sitting progressively further and further away? I don't know - I'll probably off-handedly mention that I'm sitting further and further away, but not make the big deal that I have in the last 2 weeks about showing her precisely where I was going to sit. This way, if she ever does get out of bed, she doesn't have an exact place I've promised to position myself to be found.
Goal 1 of improved nighttime ritual - complete.
Goal 2 of potty training - next on board. I've already started to get her interested in rewards of M&M's and stickers for using the potty. Now she just has to work at earning those rewards. All in time, all in time.