The Lochner Household is rolling into the weekend a changed household. For the past few weeks, we've been transitioning Ella from her crib into her toddler bed. And it has not been easy. Ella's been an easy sleeper basically since she exited the womb, so this was an adjustment for all of us. After many nights of it taking hours to put her down, her waking up in the middle of the night not wanting to go back to sleep, and resorting to putting her in our bed, we needed to learn what worked best for her in terms of "sleep training." There are a handful of techniques and tips out there explaining to you, the exhausted parent, how to get your toddler to stay in bed and get a good night's rest. It wasn't until we were in midst of this transition that I began to understand the phrases "all kids are different" and "do what works best for your family." Many of these techniques didn't work for Ella. A commonly mentioned technique was every time the toddler runs to the gate, walk them back to their bed without acknowledgement or frustration. After so many times, the toddler is supposed to understand not to get out of his/her bed. This just freaked Ella out. It did not work at all. We finally ended up adding a part to our nap time and nighttime routines where we explained to her "it's time to sleep" and tell her we're excited to see her when she wakes up and after a good rest we can play with our toys. (Kids understand way more than they're given credit for.) We said our goodnights, blew our kisses, and in her bed she stayed. And it was life-changing. She hasn't been sleeping well for over 3 weeks. And if you have a toddler, you know sleep, schedules, and staying fed is everything to to them. She got to the point where she broke down over nearly everything and didn't want to walk when we went out. After our new routines, she woke up from her nap earlier this week back to her old self -- happy and dancing. We decided to celebrate the win and rewarded her with a family trip out for her ice cream. And the same night she slept a full 9 hours in her bed. No fuss, no running to the gate. And for the first time in long while, Tim and I got solid sleep, too. The biggest cherry on top is I'm writing this as she's laying in her bed quietly for nap time - awake but content.
So we are literally dancing into this weekend totally well-rested. Since we now have two fast-growing kids, I'm beginning to understand more of the parenting cliché every day. And why debates on parenting styles are so emotionally fueled. What works for one kid truly may not work for another. It's up to us to do our part in being informed about what's good for our kids, but it's also on us to put the books down and understand our own kids and cater to their specific needs.