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The Bedtime Battle I Won't Forget

I am a Certified Sleep Coach, yes. I am also a mother or two girls, 3.5 (Georgia), and 22 months old (Charlotte). Even though I help parents with their baby’s sleep, that doesn’t mean that I don’t have struggles too! Tonight, I had one of the hardest bedtimes I have had in a long time. Before getting into the gritty details of how my children tormented me and pushed me beyond my breaking point, I need to explain what our day looked like leading up to it.

We started off the day like any other. Mind you, this summer we are staying (practically) full time, camping in a 35 ft trailer at what can only be described as a retirement golf community. So, not really like just “any other day” lol. We all woke up around 7:30am (normal morning time for us), I fixed them breakfast, and we went for a long walk around the campground.

At 10:00am, we ventured to the Lethbridge Corn Maze, which happens to be just 10 minutes away. I love taking advantage of these types of places. The kids have the best time and it’s an easy way to burn off energy! We easily spent 2 busy hours there and I had to drag them away so we could make it home in time to eat lunch before Charlie’s nap (1:00pm). Thankfully, that went off with more ease than I anticipated, and the girls thoroughly enjoyed the morning festivities (which I totally surprised them with and felt like a supermom. HA!).

While Charlie napped, Georgia and I picked some special rocks (completely ordinary and not special in any way!) and we painted them together. Then we played some golf in the field behind our campsite. I am telling you guys, I set out this morning to make this a truly memorable day and determined to be the best mom I could be, as we all strive for.

When Charlie woke up (3:00pm), they played in the pool together for 30 minutes and then we loaded into the van and drove for ice cream. Honestly, I just wanted wine because my box (aka cardboardeaux) went sour on me…. So gross. Apparently the 6 weeks expiry is a real thing (PSA). So yes, I lured them into my van with the promise of ice cream, FOR WINE! I have no shame admitting this to you.

We came back and went to the playground to burn off the ice cream sugar, for an HOUR AND A HALF! Am I wrong or is this like the best day of their tiny little lives?! Okay queue dinner, then playing around in the trailer and we start the bedtime routine. For us, at this age, bedtime routine looks like this:

🐑 Bath (if needed)

🐑 Cup of milk

🐑 Pajama’s

🐑 Brush teeth

🐑 Books (sometimes we do a little dance party too)

🐑 Bedtime song (Blackbird by The Beatles)

🐑 Sleep sack for Charlotte

🐑 White noise for both

🐑 Say *night night* and leave the room (7:30PM)

Well, tonight was a different story. While I kept to the routine fairly closely, there were a few tweaks that led to my demise. I won’t even go into the sugar and the pure amount of overstimulation, that’s clear. My bad lol. I went too hard, I admit that! I also skipped the book and we snuggled and watched tv instead. First mistake. I recommend limiting screens (and all blue light) at least 1 hour to bedtime, because it directly impacts melatonin production. I also forgot Charlotte’s sleep sack this week, which has been killer because she can climb out of her playpen (albeit safely) without it. This adds fuel to the fire later on.

At 7:30pm and I attempted to get them down with my usual tactics. With them, because they are fully sleep trained, I used “quick checks” along with a variation of “the kissing game”. If you’ve been following my Instagram (@countingsheepconsulting) for a while, you probably know all about these methods. If you are curious to learn more about them and other sleep training methods, send me a message and we can chat. Anyways, as you can guess, they didn’t work tonight.

While we have been camping all summer, we have had made some adjustments to sleep. The girls are sharing a room and Georgia struggles with allowing her younger sister to sleep. While Charlotte is (normally) happy to go to bed and she falls asleep quickly, Georgia has always required more assistance from us. Every baby is different and its okay to adjust your approach for each child. We often have to go back once or twice to say goodnight to Georgia again. Tonight, she decided that if she wasn’t going to sleep, NOBODY was going to sleep, and Charlotte was quite happy to stay up and hang with her big sis.

I sat outside the room and could hear them plotting their escape. Georgia, the mastermind behind the mission, convinced Charlotte to get out of bed and check if I was there. Not one, not two, but 8 times!!! I would tell them I could hear them and they would act like I was invisible as they army crawled past my legs! Like, WHAT!? At first, I thought it was funny, but then I couldn’t get them to stop and I lost control of the situation lol. I am telling you guys; I haven’t felt this way since my older sisters used to “mute” me on the tv remote and pretend I didn’t exist. I have never been tested like this as a mother, and I definitely didn’t expect it this early!

As soon as I laughed once, I lost all credibility and it became clear that I wasn’t getting it back. I made the decision to take them out of their room for about 20 minutes and we did a “reset”. If bedtime or naptime is ever a huge struggle and you feel like you are at a complete loss, this can be a very good idea. A “reset” will allow everyone (yourself included!) to take a step back, calm down, and start the process again with new emotions attached. So that’s what I did. I let them play quietly together and burn off a bit of energy, because in this instance it was needed!! Then we sat together and read a couple of books to calm down. Charlie was the first to admit she was ready for bed, so we attempted it again. I sat outside the room, listening to Georgia trying to convince her little sister to get out of bed again, but this time Charlie refused and continued to respond with “NO, bed!”. It was around 9:30 when they finally settled down and went to sleep. A solid 2 hours after their typical bedtime. I was exhausted, emotionally.

This experience made me realize that my babies are becoming children, whether I want to accept that or not. Not because they didn’t want to go to bed, but because of the sheer manipulation involved! Lol It is happening before my eyes and it feels like they are changing too fast! I need to adapt and change with them and stop thinking of them as babies. They are so much smarter and more aware than I give them credit for. I was ready to pull out all my hair tonight, but I need to work on finding more balance in my emotions, and learn to be more patient with them. And although I tell parents all the time to be calm and confident with their children (they will be much more willing to follow your lead!), sometimes our emotions get the best of us.

I guess I am sharing this with you to let you know that I am human, and so are our children. Despite my profession, I am not perfect. I make mistakes and stray from the plan now and then, because life happens and we can’t be so strict all the time. Our kids are emotional creatures as well, and they need a bit of flexibility in their lives. Usually, my kids adapt well to change and I can be quite flexible with their sleep, but I think the sheer amount of change this summer has started to accumulate. Come September, when we are done camping and back home, I will need to focus on their sleep and routine to get them back on track. I always knew this would be the case, but last night was a fun reminder of what I am in for!

What was your worst bedtime experience? Do you still remember it?

-Jane Anderson

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