Let’s talk Toddler Bed Transitioning, shall we? Who wants a how to?
Just kidding. Not happening. Not this time anyway. Here’s what I have for you instead.
Permission to Quit.
Here is how it went down.
New move, new room, new life skills. That’s where I was coming from when I decided we didn’t need to set up the crib. Why go through all that trouble only to take it down eventually?
I know how to do this, I tell myself. I have coached countless parents through the process of transitioning to a toddler bed. I have even done this with my own first born child. It is not that difficult. Stay strong. Set limits. The child will learn. They will sleep, you will sleep, everyone will sleep. This is fine.
And so we did what we said we would do. We followed bed time routines. We reminded the young one of the rules. We kept emotions in check calmly, (ha) guiding said child back to bed. Each and every *expletive* time. We armed ourselves by the door, a glass of wine in hand, like the gatekeepers we were called to be. Let me set the scene. Child put in bed. Parent leaves room. Child gets out of bed and opens door. Child giggles maniacally. Parent, totally chill by the way, puts child back in bed. Repeat. For at least an hour. Sometimes more. Every. Single. Night.
It will work. Eventually.
These were the words that we uttered to each other with blood shot pleading eyes. They were the words we whispered to each other as we collapsed on the couch after another round of toddler bed time olympics. These were the words we said because these were the word we wanted to believe.
But these were not the words we were thinking and feeling.
I don’t remember who said it first. It doesn’t matter. Let’s say it was simultaneous. I’m probably the one who was stubborn longer. Either way, we were both afraid to call defeat. Both afraid that if we admitted it wasn’t working than it would mean we lost at the great game of parenting.
Cue sad final video game life music. We lost. Game over.
We set up the crib.
Not before I tried one more “But…I hate to stop all the progress we have done only to have to do this all over again.”
“Progress?! What progress?!”
He was right (I hope he doesn’t read this.)
For four weeks with the “Your shenanigans don’t bother me at all. I can do this all night” game face locked on our faces, we prayerfully, desperately hoped that that night would finally be the night that the student would succumb to the master. And for four weeks, he met our game face with glee. Ridiculous, over tired, but steadfast glee.
So we quit Mission Toddler Bed Transition.
And he slept.
And we slept.
Did we quit?
You bet we did.
Did we feel ashamed?
So much of parenting strategy begins with a game plan. Follow through. Teach them. Mold them. We are making adults here. Stay strong. No one said it was going to be easy.
And then sometimes, the game plan falls apart in such an embarrassing way. And the true parental athlete shakes hands with the opponent and says “Good game. Well played. I’ll see you on the field for a rematch.”
I am learning, particularly in this circumstance, that there is no shame in admitting defeat. If the alternative means for a happier, and in this case healthier (more sleep is always healthier) life, then by all means, live that life. Choose to let it go. Try something else. And come back when the time is right.
Are you fighting a battle right now, and losing in an epic way?
Then let me be the first to write your permission slip to quit. Right here. Right now. Be done with whatever it is that doesn’t seem to be working because that’s how the books told you it was done, or your neighbor, or the internet or even your own gut intuition. Because sometimes they are wrong. Sometimes we are wrong. Sometimes the child isn’t ready for that new transition. Sometimes we aren’t ready for that transition. And sometimes you just need to quit and trust that you can play the game again when you are ready, when they are ready.
You'll know if it's the right choice. The relief of defeat is so strong.
Especially when it comes to sleep.
So, what game do you need to quit this week? Let’s celebrate our losses, shame free, together.