The first step is admitting you have a problem. I don’t have a problem myself. It’s more so that Ellie does and because of that, it’s become my problem. I’ve been in denial for some time now, but I’m realizing I can’t ignore it anymore. I can’t look the other way and pretend it doesn’t exist. Hi, my name is Matt and I have a problem. I sleep on the floor next to my daughter’s bed all night so she will sleep.
Ever since we got back from Japan her sleep routine has been all goofed up. (I think I’ve written this same sentence at least 3 times in the past two months). But it’s been increasingly getting worse. I always had something to blame it on though. First, it was jetlag. Then it was adjusting to her toddler bed. Then it was her being sick. And then her being sick again. And because of all these excuses, I always felt justified in my easy-going-over-accommodating approach to “solving” this problem.
First of all, getting her to fall asleep now is a challenge. Between adjusting her pillow a million times, and reading a bajillion books (not a bazillion, a bajillion), it’s been taking her between 1 ½ to 2 ½ hours to fall asleep at night. What!? This is not what we worked so hard before to achieve. She was sleeping great at naptime and night time. Now it feels like we are back to square one. Back to dreading putting her to bed. The fear is alive inside me again.
She knows how to play us, and we are falling for it like chumps without even realizing it. We don’t actually read the bajillion books, we only start them. After a few sentences she requests another book. And then another book, and another, and another. Pretty soon her cute requests just get annoying. It was time to start getting tough. Well, Aya started getting tough… at least she tried.
Ellie would be clearly stalling and Aya would announce that it’s the last book and that she was leaving and walking out. This was followed by Ellie crying and pounding on the door. I’m usually downstairs thinking a zombie attack is going on. Her little hands paw at the door while she moans and groans, not for brains, but for “mama” and “dada!” I shake in fear, but it also kills me. I want to intervene even though I know it’s a trap. It usually doesn’t go on too long before she crawls back into bed and falls asleep with Mark, her stuffed donkey. Once she’s asleep you think we could relax and let our guard down. But now she’s been waking up in the middle of the night anywhere between midnight and 3am. If I was weak with her at bedtime, I’m a total push-over during the witching hour.
While she was sick we’d pretty much immediately bring her in to bed with us. She would roll around, steal my pillow, sleep on me, and almost push me off the bed. I’m a “traveler” when I sleep, and I was getting a taste of my own medicine. But she was sick so I didn’t mind, and at least she was sleeping so I really didn’t mind. It would be temporary though, I thought.
Soon she was waking up in the middle of the night, every night. But she didn’t want to sleep in our bed anymore. “You mean you DON’T want to sleep in a big comfy bed with mom and dad?!” You’d think I would be excited about this. It’s good she doesn’t want to sleep in my bed every night, right? You always hear the horror stories from other parents who can’t get their kids to sleep in their own bed. So yes, it is a good thing, however, now she wants me, not Aya, to sleep with her on the floor. What is wrong with this picture?
With us being busy so close to Christmas, I just don’t have the energy to fight it. So I give in and lie down next to her on the floor. All. Night. Long. I try to escape, but it’s no use. It’s like she has motion sensors with silent alarms wired in the room, because every time I think she’s asleep and I can sneak out, she wakes up, whines, and then pats the pillow for me to lie back down. I’m pretty ninja-like too. I know the creaky spots of the floor and avoid them, but it never fails. She always looks up and says, “Not so fast dad… I’m watching you…” *Sigh* With my great escape foiled, I lie back down and pray for morning.
What she doesn’t know is that I am quietly making a retaliation plan. I don’t know my exact plans yet as I’m still researching, but it will happen soon. I’ve gone face-to-face with her before and I know I need to do it again. Except this time instead of it being an outright brawl, this is going to be more of a poker game. Ellie is older and smarter now. She’s got some of her own tricks up her sleeves too, I’m sure. It’sll be a battle of wits, patience, and stubbornness. Who will fold first? And in preparation of my upcoming poker game with Ellie, I’m going to start watching Maverick and listening to Kenny Rogers for motivation.
“You got to know when to hold em’
Know when to fold em’
Know when to walk away
And know when to run”