Every so often I enjoy watching M fall asleep; sitting with her while she drifts off. I think of it as “topping up the AP”. Sitting with her for a bit longer than usual, taking a little more time and patience than normal, to remind her I’m always here and she’s always secure.
Tonight was one if those nights. E had fallen asleep on the bed, so I was free to spend a bit longer doing bedtime things with M. We read lots of stories, then when we were done with that I gently stroked her hand while I told her about the day we’d had. I watched her eyes flicker shut and within moments she was gone, still holding my hand.
I LOVE watching my children fall asleep. I love how easy and peaceful it is. Children just close their eyes and go. How many adults can do that? Most of us close our eyes and try for the next 20 minutes to stop thinking about work, money, noises, family, that tv show, the dog… and eventually we fall asleep. Children just go: eyes shut BAM sleep! Amazing.
M is awesome at bedtime right now. Most nights we can read a few stories then kiss goodnight and she’s happy to settle down. There is never a fight. Sometimes she stalls by asking for a wee, or for another story, but we generally oblige her because most nights she’s content with the normal routine and, like I say, no harm in topping up the AP and keeping that secure attachment going. Take a little time to sit and stroke their hair and rub their back and tell them made-up stories about fairies and cats and pirates and dragons.
Think of AP as an investment. So your kid is going through a difficult phase, and won’t settle at night? You could, of course, do the Supernanny thing and be mega strict. Don’t vary the routine, don’t ‘give in’ to demands for extra stories, extra cuddles, drinks of water. Back in bed and stay there! But you’ll have an insecure child who goes to bed unhappy. Maybe they cry a little, maybe not. You get your evening back, but your child starts waking at night, and takes longer to settle. Long-term, you have more work to do. Or you could stay up a little longer, reassure your child that tonight, and any night they feel they need it, you’ll stay up with them and read to them and stroke their back. In their own time, he or she will be happy and confident with sleep. Maybe into adulthood they’ll retain that easy ability to fall asleep, because bedtime has always been relaxing and a safe, secure environment.
Well, that’s the theory anyway! Works for us so far.