It started out small. A once easy-going bedtime routine turned a little more difficult with stalling tactics. More water. Another story. Blankets not put in the correct order. Needing to go potty (even though she isn’t potty trained). Things that seemed small but added an extra 20 minutes to bedtime.
When stalling stopped working, the crying would start. After a few weeks of crying, it escalated to hysterical screaming. That eventually led to trying to crawl out of her crib. She would only remain calm if I was in her room. She seemed to panic thinking I would be gone when she woke up (very similar behavior I witnessed daily at daycare drop-off).
We were at a loss for words. Since she was able to walk she would run to her room, excited for bed. Even as an infant she was put to bed awake and would fall asleep with no problem. This new behavior was coming out of nowhere and was beginning to affect how our oldest got to sleep. How could she fall asleep with her sister screaming in the next room?
The best way to keep her calm and keep her in her bed was to stay in her room. In order to get her to lie down, I would lie on her floor and wait for her to fall asleep. Eventually, I would also fall asleep on the floor. This was uncomfortable and began to affect my nighttime routine and my own bedtime.
She seemed afraid to be alone in her room. We tried lots of tricks to make her more comfortable. We hung rope lights in her room to light up all the corners and make it less dark. We got big girl bedding and transitioned her crib to a toddler bed. We got a portable, soft Minnie mouse nightlight to sleep with. I even broke down and bought The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep to try the new hypno-sleep technique. Nothing seemed to be helping with getting her to fall asleep or with the terror of being alone.
We finally settled for just bringing the extra crib mattress into our room. Is it ideal? No. In fact, I have to step around the mattress every time I get out of bed. I have to worry about her waking up when I get up to work out in the early morning, or when my husband leaves for work. I have to go to bed early in order for her to have an early bedtime.
But this isn’t our first experience with a child sleeping on our floor. In fact, our oldest went through similar separation anxiety and night-terror-like issues and ended up on our floor for a while. The good news? It didn’t last.
Lots of people co-sleep. The bonus for us is that we don’t have an extra person in our bed. Just on our floor. And it works for us. For now, she is afraid to sleep in her room. But she won’t always be afraid. Like all difficult stages, this too shall pass. And for now, I get to see her innocent, sleeping face whenever I want.