I’m an Acrobat in the Bedroom – Getting a Baby to Sleep
Sometimes, getting a baby to sleep and sneaking out of the room is a fine art requiring physical contortions and endurance as well as the stealthy prowess of cat.
Last night, as I was attempting to scurry away from my toddler who had woken up and finally drifted back off to her dreams that must surely be filled with bunnies, rocks, blueberries and full access to the elusive remote control, it hit me. Not like a ton of bricks, but more like the soft thud of a wet sock – this is why I’ve been having a particularly sore front pad on my left foot.
You see, I’ve developed one heck of an escape routine. If “unconscious-child-escape” ever becomes an Olympic sport, boy am I ready for competition. Here’s how bedtime usually goes. Snug in her PJs, little Z gives Daddy a kiss and bids him goodnight, then we head up to her room. I pop the little darling into her crib, then turn off the light and hop in the crib to join her.
Yes, I lay in the crib, too. Don’t be so surprised, a lot more parents than you think actually toss their preconceived ideas about what’s “supposed to” happen aside in favour of what it takes to get everyone’s needs met as much as possible. We tried so hard, so many ways, so many tricks and techniques and countless hours of frustration and crying and awkwardly leaning as much of my body in the crib as possible without getting in, until one day I said “to heck with it” and jumped on in.
And by “jump” I mean awkwardly finagled my short little body up and over the bars without grace.
And it worked. Bedtime is so much easier for us now. What my daughter needs is to feel close to me. And this is okay. (If you’re feeling a little skeptical about what my daughter, myself, and my family as a whole need, I urge you to refer back to this.) So I snuggle her to sleep each night, safe and cozy within her little cage of sleep.
But once the little darling is asleep, I am faced with the always-entertaining challenge of slipping away without waking a preciously sleeping toddler. I carefully and cautiously edge my body away from hers, almost always discovering that an arm, my hair, or a piece of my sweater is lodged underneath her. Sometimes I pull the “get out of baby jail free” card, and others I have to quickly lay down again and pretend to be asleep when she stirs.
When the tricksy little being is back asleep, and I have all my limbs, hair and clothes to myself, I call upon muscles I never knew existed before I found myself in this predicament to help me pull my body up from beside her to a standing position at the foot of her crib. I will never be able to describe just how awkward and challenging this is from a facedown position in about 4 inches worth of space between a toddler and the crib rails, but it gets done.
Then comes the next gymnast feat. This is the part I have perfected down to a science of automatic movement, and likely the reason my foot is often quite cramped.
Because too many movements in such a dire situation is not recommended for optimal post-bedtime adult business, each step of escape must be absolutely necessary and operate through the smoothest of actions. My one gravity-defying leg up from laying down must land in a specific corner, closest to freedom. This foot must face in as much as possible without breaking my ankle, in order for my other foot to seamlessly glide up and over the crib rail while my hands hold tight to the crib sides. As my now free foot finds it’s way waaay down to the floor, my other foot must twirl around on spot to allow for me to reach the floor without bashing my lady-bits on the crib rail. Let me tell you, this is something that you want to avoid at all costs. (Sometimes baby gates may seem shorter than they are, presenting a similar problem. I highly suggest you slowly and carefully test gate height with crotch height before proceeding to quickly swing a leg over.)
After the swift spinning-hoisting-landing act has come to a close, each foot is carefully placed on the boards that I have come to know won’t give me away with annoying squeaks. It’s a fantastic memory game to keep your mind sharp – Mindmaster of the parental noise navigation variety. Hit the wrong board, and you may have to go back to “start” and hope you can get baby back to sleep and make the escape before time runs out on your evening.
Finally, victory is mine! I am free to drink tea that is still hot when I drink it, watch inappropriate shows on Netflix, knit to my heart’s delight and eat all of the cookies and ice cream. (Although I’m trying to cut back on the sweets after this whole pathetic discovery). And to rub my sore yet incredibly buff foot muscles.
Ah, parenthood. Full of adventure.
Have you hopped in the crib, too? What kind of crazy stunts do you pull for getting a baby to sleep, and making the snoozy-time escape?