Last night Olivia didn’t wake me up a single time.
This shouldn’t be news, I know. She’s seven.
But the week before, will the fever and the coughing and the sniffles, she woke up a lot and called to me. And because she was sick, I went to her. I even, gasp, let her sleep with me two nights last week because of either fever or ear pain. It was either pull her into my bed and let us both get just a little crappy sleep or get not sleep at all. Anyone who knows me at all knows which option I’ll choose every single time.
So this week Olivia’s been feeling ever so much better. Her sleep should have shown that, right?
No. No, that is not right. See, a week of having mommy at her beck and call made Olivia think that habit should continue, thank you very much.
So when she woke me up three times on Monday to either rub her back, cover her back up or help her take off her pull up because it was soaked at 2am, I did it. But on Tuesday evening I gently suggested to her that since she’s feeling better, perhaps she could just roll over and go back to sleep should she wake up in the night.
She nodded her agreement and then, between 11:30pm and 2:00am, she woke me up four times.
The first was to rub her back. The second was because I’d stopped rubbing her back. The third was because, well, I don’t even remember, but it was irritating.
The fourth time she woke me up, I didn’t get out of my bed. When she called to me, I said, “No. It’s night time, go back to sleep.”
“Mom?” she called.
“No,” I replied. “You’re alright, go back to sleep.”
“But Mom…” she tried.
“No, Livie,” I called back. “Go back to sleep.”
We went back and forth like this for a couple of minutes before she sighed and went back to sleep. I hate that I feel ‘win’ in situations like this. There is no win, just a chance for us both to be some much needed sleep.
Wednesday night started out with my having high hopes for the night. She was feeling better still and had been able to spend a bit of time outside that day which often leads to good sleep.
She woke up at a little after midnight with a kiss to my cheek. Instead of calling out to me, she’d come to my bed. I got out of bed and took her back to her own bed. I helped her climb in next to Lyssie and pulled the blanket up over her, rubbed her back for a few seconds, whispered that I was going to go use the bathroom and I’d be right back. The last time I ‘sleep trained’ her, this was the method I used. I always detoured from the bathroom back to my own bed instead of going back to her.
That night? I wasn’t even finished peeing when her little shadow scared me out of my skin.
I called, “What are you doing, Liv?”
She whispered, “Are you going to come back to me when you’re done?”
I sighed. I said, “Sweetie, Mommy’s really tired. It’s not really fair of you to ask me to be awake and rub your back when it’s the middle of the night. You need to go back to sleep.”
She sighed in resignation and let me tuck her back into bed. I skipped the backrub this time, just kissed her told her it was night time and to go back to sleep. She didn’t wake up again that night.
Last night? She slept all night long. And get this, so did I. How awesome is that?
Yes, you can sleep train a seven year old. Just beware that you might have to do it over and over and over again.
The eleven year old? She sleeps like a champ, never waking me unless she’s really, truly, pukey sick. Some things really do get easier as they get older (though, admittedly, there are other things, bigger things, that get so much harder.)