Creatures of Habit
Every so often your child is sick, or has a bad dream, or just needs their mom or dad and in those moments “the rules” don’t apply. Sometimes, the next night everything goes back to normal and that night was just a one-off. Other times it takes re-training for sleep routines to resume to normal.
I have two personal anecdotes to share, I’ll start with the one that inspired this post. Thursday night, my 2 year old came down with a cold and by bedtime he was very stuffed up. He never gives me trouble when I put him in the crib. He’s beyond a pleasure to put to sleep – I always say “love you” and he says “wov you” and I blow a kiss and he blows one back. I tried to put him down and he stood up crying, reaching for me. I took him out and we sat on the glider, singing songs and cuddling. I waited until my husband came home, let him see him and then we put him to sleep, but it wasn’t very smooth.
The next day at nap and then at night he pointed to the chair and said he wanted to sit there. My husband sat with him and then tried to put him in, he cried. We went in and talked to him, but it still wasn’t smooth; he wasn’t happy. When you’re so used to your child going to sleep happy it’s very hard to put them to sleep upset. Saturday was the same story. It was officially no longer easy to put him to sleep. My husband would try and reason with him, he would tell him “we aren’t going to cry when we go to sleep, right?” he would say yes but then it would still happen. We would go in when he cried, making the goodnight routine a whole process. By Sunday we knew we had to re-train. We started with the nap on Sunday. He was resisting, but we put him in and he cried and we didn’t go in. He cried a few minutes and eventually gave up. Sunday night, same thing – resisted and cried a few minutes, but again we didn’t go in. Monday nap, I put him in and he cried but this time only 30 seconds. Same story Monday night. Tuesday nap, he cried but only 10 seconds. Same thing Tuesday night. Today, Wednesday, I got happy smiles, no crying, and for the first time since Thursday night, an “I love you” and a blown kiss. Success!! That was a long process for someone who knows the routine for 2 years, and I don’t regret Thursday night responding to him or the nights after. He wasn’t feeling well and I’m happy we were there for him. But it came at a cost of re-training and having him cry which I am really not used to, but thankfully we are back to normal.
I’ve wrote in the past about my older son and having to re-train him, but this story is one that makes me laugh. We toilet trained him when he turned 2, but we kept the nighttime diaper because we weren’t ready to train him for nighttime. When we did take off the night diaper, he did very well, but had an accident every once in a while. One night he came to our room in the middle of the night and he told me he was a little wet so I changed him. He wasn’t lying, he really was just a little wet. The next night he comes again, “Mommy, I’m a little wet.” I feel his pajamas and they’re dry! He figured out that if he’s wet, that’s a valid reason to leave his room and wake me up, so he attempted it again (sans accident.)
I think most kids, but definitely my kids are the definition of creatures of habit. It’s to the point when they ask to do something before I answer, it runs through my head, “do I want to do this all the time?” For example, if I let him go in the car from the front door and climb to the back, he will definitely want to do it the next day. If we put bubbles in the bath, they want it everyday. If we bathe them in our room instead of theirs. If we get a snack at an activity or on the way to an activity, you bet the next time we do that activity it will be remembered! The list goes on and on 🙂
I don’t want to be saying “no” to things just because I don’t want to do them daily so I say “yes” but put a disclaimer that it doesn’t mean we get to do it everyday. Doesn’t mean they won’t ask for it again…
The upside is that creatures of habit thrive on routine, and even when we sway we all know how to get back to that comfortable place. Until the next sickness/scary dream/vacation….