Some parents are blessed with babies that sleep 12 hours without waking up, settling easily and drifting off without any trouble leaving mummy and daddy to relax for a few hours before getting a good night sleep themselves. How lovely. Well wait till the little cuties turn into little toddlers! BAM!
Now little Zach is well into his second year with his exploring, talking, sense of humour and all those other wonderful toddler things. Oh yes, silly me, how could I forget tantrums and defiance. As parents of a young whipper snapper of this age we are still rookies at dealing with this new challenge. We’ve all read the books and forums about how to deal with it and try to stay calm, but when you are bang in the middle of a battle with a toddler who has his own ideas about who gives him his tea or ‘attempts’ to brush his teeth all the advice flies out of the window and onto the floor with that pasta meal that flew off the table because he had a fork not a spoon.
My biggest battle at the moment though seems to be at bedtime. As we have another of these little darlings on the way we decided it would be good for daddy to start running the bedtime showdown to get him used to mummy being elsewhere tending to the new trainee. After we’ve got over the initial teeth brushing disaster, avoided any slipping drama in the bath and making sure no water gets on his face we are faced with bedtime. That time in the evening where you have to keep everything calm with hushed voices and lovely stories so they drift off to sleep. No. Sorry, it doesn’t work like that.
It starts with the challenge of getting their nappy on before they wee on anything. But wait, they don’t want to do that, they want to run from wall to wall shouting random words. Or hide in the wardrobe or get ALL of their books out. Since we’ve recently moved the little chap into a toddler bed its given him an extra place to jump from to avoid getting changed! After much defiance and attempted distractions on my part I manage to get a nappy on. Just a nappy.
Next comes pyjamas. Oh hang on, there they go flying over the stair gate on his door along with the odd cuddly toy and the chance of an early night. After much hiding behind the curtain, a bit more running across the room we get the opportunity to get at least one leg into the trousers. But obviously he wants to put them in the opposite leg holes, so after trying to work out a way of switching them round to scupper his swapping leg hole idea we eventually have them on. Then comes the pyjama top. Its easiest if the head goes in first then guide each arm into the correct hole. Wrong, we want to put both arms through the neck hole don’t we! And then get into a mini tantrum when we try to put it right. Phew.
Ok. Lets choose 2 stories to read so we can bring this tournament to an end and get some sleep. After much indecisive book swapping and avoidance of long books or ones that make noises we can settle down and read. Stories begin ok, in fact they are great. New words being learned and sentences being finished, it is the most positive point of bedtime so far. Fantastic. But why don’t we change where we are sitting to by the curtains or by the door, then move back to the bed again – isn’t this fun! As we skip sentences and eventually pages so we can wrap this charade up we finish story time and get ready to settle down.
All that happened in just half an hour, and what can such an action packed half an hour lead to? Thats right, a non-sleepy toddler. I am asked to ‘Go’ – presumably so he can sleep. But as I leave his room and hide across the landing out of view I see a little figure jumping out of bed running across the bedroom to look out of the window. It’s all new though having the freedom of being able to get out of bed at night and wander about so taking this on board I accept it and wait for him to go back after he’s said goodnight to the moon and stars. I’m then summoned back to the room to sit next to his bed to settle him. A soothing back rub will send him off to the land of nod I’m sure. No, not this time. After several more trips to the window, attempted headstands on his pillow and multiple re-arrangements of his 3 owl cuddly toys he now seems to be settling.
It’s 9.30 by the time he eventually falls asleep and although it seemed like all night it wasn’t that bad really compared to some toddler stand off stories I’ve heard. To be honest most of the time I was trying not to laugh and thinking how I probably would have done the same.