This was the scene the morning after. It was a disaster.
Blue Eyes and I have been trying to get Sparkles and Buttercup to sleep in the same room, which requires them to calm down and stay in bed and close their eyes and fall asleep. Which they do well by themselves, but not-as-well while in the same room.
The dynamics of this situation are infinity complex.
Buttercup, who is two, is VERY, VERY, VERY excited to sleep upstairs, so EXCITED that her Wild Monkey side dominates her decisions and her behavior. Sparkles, who is four and AMAZING at going to sleep, would be just fine, except there is a Wild Monkey in the room and that is way too interesting to ignore.
The night of the disaster, it had gotten out of control, with a new surprise for me each time I returned to their room. Neither of them staying in bed. Climbing on the furniture. Playing with toys. Taking off their pajamas. Taking off their pull-ups. Wearing all their dresses at the same time. Spinning around the room while hanging from the ceiling fan blades. (Well, maybe not that last one.)
Blue Eyes and I had tried punishing them, using different methods, in our previous attempts to get them to sleep together. But it didn’t work and we all started dreading bed time. We backed off from that, but now I didn’t know what to do.
So I pulled everything out of their room. All the furniture. Every last toy. Anything at all that could be a source of interest or imaginative play. It wasn’t a bad idea, but it didn’t work either.
Now I had two toddler beds, curtains and a baby monitor in my girls’ room.
Along with two exhausted parents and two upset kids.
It was a disaster all the way around.
Katie Malinski is a genius. She is a parenting coach and a good friend. Later that week, I humbly and hopefully requested her professional opinion on my situation. This is what she said.
* Two-year-olds are like Wild Monkeys. That is her term and it describes Buttercup exactly, not all the time, but some of the time, every day.
* If you are punishing your kids for the same behavior pretty often, change the situation. If your kid keeps taking cookies out of the cookie jar, then don’t leave the cookie jar where she can reach it.
Then she asked – why is Buttercup sleeping upstairs? Well, I said, because we want have a guest room downstairs, of coarse. Except that all of Blue Eyes’ family lives in town and all of my family is allergic to our cat, so that isn’t really an urgent need, but there is another problem.
Buttercup says she really wants to sleep upstairs and she gets very upset if we ask her to sleep downstairs. But, after books and songs, when we start to lay down, she gets very upset of we don’t let her go back downstairs. Then Sparkles gets upset because she wants Buttercup to stay upstairs.
This is way more complicated than my day job.
But, Katie Malinski isn’t done yet. She has more wisdom to offer.
She said Buttercup isn’t able to reason yet, but Sparkles is, and that can help. I could explain to Sparkles that Buttercup is to young to sleep upstairs. She is only two and she is just to young to calm down when there is someone else in the room to play with.
We did that and this is what we do now – we all start upstairs and do our routine of books and songs together, then they lay down in their beds. If Buttercup gets out of bed or if she asks to go downstairs, then we bring her downstairs right away. If Sparkles is a little sad, we remind her that Buttercup is too young to sleep upstairs. For now, Buttercup ends up downstairs all the time, but eventually, as the novelty of being with Sparkles wears off and she grows up, she will be able to stay upstairs.
No more drama. No crying. The furniture is back in their room.We have recovered from this disaster. May we have strength (and sometimes some help) for the next one.
(This is not a sponsored post. These are my unsolicited thoughts about toddler bed time and Katie Malinski.)