Laurel just turned one this month, and I’ve still been struggling with my morning schedule. One of the problems I’ve noticed is that if I’m getting ready in the morning, or still trying to rest, my older two early birds get up to play happily, leaving Laurel to cry at the crib. Once I get Laurel up, she needs immediate attention, so if I want her to eat cereal and milk, I have to feed her (and the other children) right away. Sometimes that can set me back a whole morning, so I’ve been thinking about possible solutions.
Since Laurel goes to sleep without trouble, and since we have an unused toddler bed, I asked Lee to put it in the girls’ room, and see if Laurel might like it. That way, Laurel has the freedom to get up when the other children get up. I don’t want to make staying in bed an obedience issue, but if I can teach her (an essential component of biblical discipline), it would solve the problem. Predictably, she was tickled with the bed when we put it in. At naptime, though, she kept getting out of bed.
She clearly thought staying in bed was a game. When I peeked in a moment later, she had climbed out of bed. We repeated this process a few times, with Laurel giggling each time I put her back to bed with her pacifier and blanket. I understand that many mothers at this point would spank the child and put them back to bed, repeating this procedure until the child had gone to sleep. But I’m really introducing the bed far sooner than is typically expected, and since I’m not sure if she’s ready for the transition, I don’t want to take that approach. Besides, even when I’m certain of a child’s ability to obey, I do not administer consequences until after I’ve taught them what I expect. I see this pattern repeatedly, God gives instruction before he imposes consequences, so I’m comfortable with this approach.
Ultimately, I simply sat with my hand on her leg for a few minutes until she had fallen asleep. In the evening, I didn’t need to do this at all, so I figured the toddler bed experiment was a success. Except… she woke up twice last night. The first time, she was beside her bed (maybe she had fallen out), so I put her in bed again and she went right to sleep. A few hours later, she had gotten out of bed and was crying as she crawled down the hallway (away from my bedroom, but toward the lighted bathroom, perhaps). So now I don’t know. I’ll try again today and tonight. If she does the same thing, I’ll put the crib back in the room.