Priority Number One


Hands down, the biggest battle I have with the Muffin is bedtime. Every. Single. Night. Which is funny (but not really) because if you had asked me when I was pregnant (or really any time before or after that) what I would most like to have under control as a parent of an infant or toddler I would have said, and still would say, without a moment’s hesitation, “SLEEP!”

I have my own issues with sleep. I’m kind of addicted. While that’s not really the point, I’m sure it served as the impetus for my concern for my child’s sleep habits. Before I was a mom myself, I would look at parents whose kids shared their beds or (gasp!) even all their waking hours and think Oh, hell to the no. Not me! I looked forward to the day my child was old enough to sleep train. My child would sleep in her own bed. And after 8:00 pm was adult time, and that’s the way it would be in my house. Period.

When I got pregnant, as an older parent I was wise enough (insert grain of salt here) to know not to have too many pre-conceived ideas about how the whole motherhood thing would play out. I was really hoping to breast feed and maybe it would work out and maybe it wouldn’t (happily, it did). I wanted my child to eat healthy and love vegetables, but I knew she might have other ideas (and boy does she!). The list goes on. Yes, I knew enough to know that the little person in our lives would have a certain amount of control over her life and ours and take us in directions we weren’t planning on going. I was open to parenting possibilities and very careful not to get too invested in ideas of how I wanted things to go.

But sleep? That was going to be under control.

Uh huh.

At first, things weren’t too bad. When Muffin hit the four month mark and we could start sleep training, we did. It wasn’t a huge success, but it was giant failure either. She slept in our bed more than I would have liked, and things would backslide from time to time, but we would regroup. For the most part, we had a routine and she was going to bed at a reasonable hour in her own crib.

But a few months after Muffin turned two, we moved back east and in with parents, and things went downhill fast. When she learned how to climb out of her crib a few months after that, we finished our downhill slide and landed right in Hell. And that’s where we’ve been every bedtime since.

I have child who does NOT want to go to bed.  You know the type– she’s afraid she’ll miss something. I’d describe to you a typical bedtime scenario, but quite frankly, I’m too embarrassed. There are tears. There are temper tantrums. There are slamming doors. And those are from me!  I have to lie down with Muffin until she goes to sleep and the whole process can take hours (yes, hours). I am resentful of the time I have to spend on this each night. Most nights, by the time I get Muffin to sleep, I’m too emotionally and physically drained lazy to get back up, so I usually just drift off to sleep myself. Which means I get no waking hours when my child is asleep. So much for adult time.

I do it all wrong. I KNOW. It’s not my kid’s fault. I KNOW. I blame no one but myself. Okay, maybe I blame our situation.

Right now we live a semi-nomadic lifestyle. We spend most weekdays with my mom (sans the Daddy) and then travel down to my in-laws for the weekends. Wherever we are, we are not in our own home, there are other people around and awake, and Greg, the Muffin and I share a bedroom.

I do have some ideas about how to fix this Hell that is bedtime.  But since my needed allies in this venture– the parenting triumvirate of structure, routine and consistency– are the same ones I lost when we moved back east, I won’t try until I can get them back again. I won’t implement a plan until I KNOW I have the strength (God help me!) resources and situation to follow through.

Which brings me to now.

Even though I still am unemployed and it will be a financial struggle, Greg and I have finally FINALLY decided it’s time to get our own place. We’ve been back east for almost a year now and it’s just time. Our families love us, but no doubt we have worn out our welcome. I hate being a single mom  on the weekdays. It breaks my heart when Muffin and I leave the in-laws on Monday nights (usually) to head back to my mom’s house, and Muffin cries for her daddy. We need a place where we can be a family again. And we need a place where can put routine and structure back into our lives. Whatever the cost.

Hopefully, parenting aside, an added bonus of the move will be that I’m in a better location and  have more motivation (read: rent money!) to look for a job.

But back to sleep.

Yes, getting bedtime under control will be priority number one when we move. It will be hard. It will take some research. It will take time. It will take patience. Muffin is three and she is used to sleeping with me now. If she wakes during the night, she looks for me to make sure I’m there. If I am in bed, she moves close and throws her arms around my neck to fall back asleep. If I’m not there, she calls for me. A new home with just us and no other relatives will be adjustment enough. And she will have to change preschools.To move Muffin to her own bed AND her own room on top of all that is going to be a lot of change for her, and I have to do this right.

I’m suiting up for this battle and am willing to do whatever it takes to win. I’ll read up plenty on the topic because I’m going to need ideas. I’m also going to need prayers. If you have either, send them my way!

I’ll keep you posted!



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