We have recently taken on the big kid bed.
I had been thinking about doing it for a while. We had the bed in Matthew’s room already so he knew it was the big kid bed and we did story time on it every night. I asked him a lot if he wanted to sleep there and he said no.
However, we have a two bedroom apartment, two babies, and one crib. Charlotte started standing up in the her cradle, which was dangerous and I thought “Now is the time, let’s do it!”
I felt good about it… until I mentioned it to others. I got a lot of “don’t do it unless you REALLY have to” and “why mess with a good thing?” and “just buy a second crib”. I also got a lot of people asking me for an explanation. And the person I am, I felt obligated to explain myself to them. But even with a nagging feeling that I was making a bed decision, I kept going.
My plan was that I would just support him through it. I would talk it up before bed (you’re such a big kid, the big kid bed is awesome, look how fun the big kid bed is). I would tuck him in and then if he got up, I would take him back and tell him to go to sleep, as many time as it took. And then when he woke up, I would praise him and tell him how cool he was! Ooohh… planning is funny, isn’t it…
The first night was rough, but Scott laid with him in bed until he fell asleep. The next day, I tried to do naptime while Scott was at work.
It took over two hours. He never cried, but he just kept getting up. And I was exhausted and overwhelmed and I was trying to nurse… it was so hard. I tried putting him back with nice words. I tried not so nice words. I tried reasoning with him. I tried singing. I tried everything I could think of. And then I thought about killing my husband for going to work. All those voices, people questioning me, telling me not to do it, lingered in my head. I cried and I thought I was a bad mom who wasn’t thinking about the best interest of my child. I got to the point where I literally ignored him and he walked out, stood 2 feet from me (and I didn’t even look at him) he stood there for about 5 minutes, walked to bed and went to sleep! But I felt defeated. I didn’t expect it to wear on me like that.
Scott, wanting to rescue me from the exhaustion and stress, said we should just stop.
Again, I stood firm. I told him that while there were other options, I felt like Matthew doesn’t generally do well with change and it’s our job as parents to help him through it by supporting him, not to just avoid it altogther because it’s hard. Despite my second-guessing, I stood firm on my decision and continued the transfer.
But after about 2 days, it really did get easier. Now it’s been 3 weeks and every once in a while he will get up, but for the most part, he goes down pretty easy. He’s really proud of himself. He loves to show people his bed when they come visit.
We still haven’t put Charlotte in his room yet, mostly because she still wakes every few hours at night but I like knowing the option is there. Overall I feel like we made a good decision and I’m happy we did it.
Here are some tips:
– Talk about the big kid bed and how cool it is. We did this for weeks before we even thought about putting him in it.
– Choose your time wisely. Plan a time when you have help (um, like maybe not while your husband is at work) and when you aren’t counting on nap time going smoothly (in case it takes a while).
– Have a plan. Know your strategy. Are you going to lay with him until he’s asleep? Are you going to let him cry? Are you going to put him back in bed with words or with no words? I had my plan all mapped out in my head, but when I got exhausted, I fell apart. So, that leads me to…
–Communicate with your spouse. Don’t do it alone and don’t assume you’re on the same page. Talk it out, ask each other questions. Know WHY you’re doing it. Know HOW you’re doing it. Take turns. When you’ve put him back in his bed 17 times and you want to scream, switch with your husband and let him do it 17 times. Plus, your kids should know that Mom and Dad are a team and when we say “bedtime” we mean “bedtime”.
– Don’t forget that big kids can get out of bed. Close baby gates before you go to bed. Put night lights in the hall. Don’t leave things down (remind me to tell you about the lavender essential oil he found! Yay.)
– Pay attention to the needs of your child. Is he crying because he’s scared? Pray with him and leave a light on. Is he getting out of bed because he thinks it’s funny to be put back every minute? Change your strategy. Is he reluctant to change? Talk it out. Don’t let this be traumatizing. It’s really not.
-Have a glass of wine. ha ha Just kidding. Well, kind of. What I mean is, after that 2 hour struggle, and you finally win the battle. Sit back, relax and congratulate yourself. Parenting is hard. But you can do it, and you just did!! Moving to the big kid bed is a big, and important, step. Our kids must move onward and upward, even when it’s hard. Good job mama!