When pregnant with my second baby, I worried that a crying newborn would wake up my older child during the night. But motherhood has a funny way of surprising you at every turn. The baby never ended up waking the toddler. The problem was, our toddler woke up the baby.
Loud outbursts at inappropriate times are essential job functions of a typical three-year-old, and ours was no exception. For many days, my three-year-old girl startled her little sister awake yelling well before sunrise, “It’s day! Can I come out of my room?” She also mastered the art of cutting the baby’s nap short whenever she tired of being in her room during rest time, shouting to come out.
My baby is 15 months old now. I endured the madness for a year. But when we hit the year mark, two things happened: The baby was finally sleeping through the night, and my mental fog lifted. Instead of resigning myself to the status quo, I came up with solutions. Here’s what works for my family.
1. The quiet chart (aka bribery). I promise our older daughter that if she is quiet for five mornings in a row, she will be rewarded with a balloon. I made a chart to track her progress using a scrap piece of paper, a marker, and Hello Kitty stickers. On the chart, we keep track of her success by placing a sticker on the days she is sufficiently quiet and mark an “x” on the days she is not sufficiently quiet. Since she can’t read yet, I draw a picture of a girl with her pointer finger to her lips (the universal sign for “shhh”) and a balloon. We hung the chart in her room and every night at bedtime, we talk about how important it is to remember to be quiet in the morning. With this reward system in place, baby sleeps past 7am versus being awoken by her sister’s shouting between 5:45 and 6:30 in the morning.
2. The tot clock. The tot clock is an alarm clock designed for young children. The face can toggle between analog and digital. Even if your child can’t tell time yet or understand the numbers on the digital reading, when they press a button, the clock reads the time out loud. The ability to ask the clock what time it is anytime my daughter wants, instead of relying on me to tell her what time it is, gives her more control over her nap time. When she asks me if her rest time is over, I remind her that rest time is over when the alarm goes off. This makes the clock the bad guy - not me - thereby minimizing the frequency of screaming and crying that used to occur during almost every quiet rest.
3. Relocate nap/rest time. My house is a small ranch with a finished basement. The girls’ rooms are next to each other on the main level. One afternoon, in desperation, I carried my screaming toddler to the guest room in the basement, so she could at least cry without waking her sister. Since then, our eldest has been taking her afternoon rest in the guest room where she is allowed to bring in whatever books she wants. I have caught her jumping on the queen-size bed a few times, but I can’t say I blame her; the jumping doesn’t wake the baby, and that’s what matters.
Pam helps women push through fear to become their best selves. To get her free guide to crushing Impostor Syndrome, visit pam-moore.com. This article was originally published on BonBon Break.
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