I knew one day I would have to switch my toddler from a crib to a bed. I was excited about it, even pushing for it!
I have never been one to love what I like to call baby containment systems – seats, swings, play pens, baby gates – anything we as parents can put our children in to pay less attention to them. They seem like an inefficient way to teach children boundaries. As a parent, I saw the safety reasons behind a crib, and as a Colic Parent, I saw the sanity-saving reasons behind a swing, but much beyond those, the carseat, and a booster chair, I never saw much use for others. So as my son left the infant months and began his toddler years, I was all too excited about moving him to a toddler bed.
I imagined nights where he would cry out for me and, instead of rocking him in a chair, I would simply crawl into his tiny bed and hold him until he fell asleep only to sneak out after. I envisioned waking up to him sitting on the edge of his bed with an armful of books that he had gathered to greet the day rather than him rattling the bars of the prison, I mean, crib to let us know he was awake. Of course, I also had horrific visions of waking in the dead of night to a tiny face only inches from mine and having to resists the bleary-eyed urge to punt kick the tiny demon across the room.
I thought, at twenty months, that I, and of course C, would be ready to make the transition from a crib to a bed, but then we moved. All my researching has taught me not to expect a toddler to transition in too many areas at once. But, when my husband went to rescue our little C-Monster from the napless confinement of his room only to find him standing at the door, we knew we had no choice.
Cillian had so efficiently scaled the walls of the crib that he proudly showed his dad exactly how he had, and would continue to come and go from his bed at his leisure.
Clearly this was happening today. Right now. At half time of the football game, we were going to take the front rail off the crib. I was not ready. I did not have a strategy. My husband and I had not discussed a game plan or established a safe word. What if this was the end of our sleep? What if he could also open his door, and we found him raiding the kitchen at the wee hours? What if he decided to climb the walls all night?
What if… he made his way to our bed?!
I text my older sister. Having three boys older than Cillian, surely she had input or strategies to share! Her response, “Consistency? I dunno, I’m a pushover with [the youngest] Owen at bedtime.”
I text my younger sisters as both have boys only a year or so younger than C. They have to have plans for when their time comes! They gave only well wishes.
I tried to reach back into my memory of Mom Blog material, but all I could think of was Becca from With Love, Becca giving me 8 ways to know I was ready, and I just was not ready! But I resolved myself to my fate. It was, after all, only Saturday and if the night was wretched, we did have Sunday to recover before I started my new job on Monday.
Oh yeah, did I mention this happened in a weekend right before I started a new job? Not a new job, per say, but my first day in a new position that was a sizable promotion from the position I was previously in. The kind where you have to arrive dressed to impress and be ready to act like you know what you are doing, and that you are prepared. The kind where you hope everyone else thinks you belong there. Yeah, well, it was.
After our usual bed time routine and a pep talk, I laid my little boy down in his new big boy bed (which, ironically, comes out of his mouth as “beebee bed”) and turned out the light. He snuggled with Bear, rolled over and was still.
And that was that.
I checked on him twice before I went to bed, and once when I woke in the middle of the night (and I used to think my newborn was the only reason I did not sleep through the night. Ha!) and each time he was still safely in his pint-sized bed.
In the morning, Jon walked into C’s room and was greeted with his customary “Hey!” and a smiling toddler with an arm full of bears still sitting on his bed!
I wish I could share something magical that I had done. I wish I could write words of wisdom, or at very least title this article “Tips and Tricks” but, I did not do anything of note to encourage this easy transition. I simply did not have a choice, and Cillian was simply ready. Or maybe he is a unicorn of a child.
I think that some times, in this world of information, we the parents tend to complicate things with our children. We read too many books, and ask too many experts. Some times, all that is needed is to do what feels right or, in this case, what you have to do.
My wiser sister has cautioned me not to be surprised if the novelty wears off and C does end up finding his way into our bed. If that happens, I just hope I can keep my soccer reflexes at bay.