My Experience transitioning my Toddler to a Big Kid Bed
As you may or may not know, we moved recently and were forced to make many important decisions upon moving in such as paint colors, where to put the big chair, how hard we should try to get the queen size box spring up the stairs before deciding just to buy a new bed, and most importantly (for the sake of this post) whether to set up a crib or twin bed in our two year old's room.
Like pretty much every big transition, I was dreading the transition to a big boy bed because I knew it would interrupt my sleep. Sleep is very important to me. Like super important. One night of poor sleep will turn me into a bat shiz psycho lady who can't finish her sentences. So I put it off and put it off - the same way I'm still putting off potty training (is it Karma that made me pee a little while sneezing in the middle of typing that sentence?). For the first month, we had him sleep in his pack and play mostly because with the Holidays we knew we'd be putting him down at other people's homes a lot and didn't want him to get too confused.
How it went down:
It was pretty rough...
The first day we put his pack and play away right after his first nap and explained to him that he'd be sleeping in his "big boy" bed that night and how that is a big responsibility for a big boy. We talked about that topic at snack time, play time, dinner time, book time, diaper time, pj time, book time, and again as we laid him down for bed. It's pretty much all we talked about all day.
Then we spent the next hour and a half or so watching him on our video monitor and taking turns to go back and lay him back in bed explaining that he needed to stay in bed again and again and again and again.
He then went to sleep. For a while. He got up in the middle of the night, turned on his light and began to play with his toys because he thought it was morning.
He continued to wake up in the middle of the night (2:21 am, or 4:37 am, or 5:02 am) for the next several nights. We tried to explain to him that he needed to stay in bed until morning. The only problem is that TODDLERS HAVE NO CONCEPT OF TIME.
Well, it was still really rough after 3 or 4 nights of waking up in the middle of the night to find he had woken up and begun to explore his bedroom before the asscrack of dawn. I was just tired and weepy. Nate helped on the weekend, but once the weekdays hit and he was required to show up to his office with a sound mind, I took over all of the night shifts.
I was living with it in a "I'm a mom and that's the job description" sort of way, until one night I woke up and found out that according to my monitor that he had been awake for 1 hour and 12 minutes before I heard him in the monitor. That quiet brute! In that time, he had gotten up, turned on his light, pulled the humidifier down from the shelf in his closet (not sure how he got this down), taken off the top of the humidifier so the nasty needs-to-be-replaced filter was just chilling in plain sight, taken one of the outlet covers off the electrical outlet, put said outlet cover in his mouth and had plugged in the humidifier and was turning it on and off when I went in to put him back in bed.
That was when I realized this could not happen ever again.
So naturally I went to facebook for help from experienced moms.
This was good for 2 reasons
1. I found out my toddler was completely normal in wanting to get out of bed and explore in the middle of the night. These mom shared their war stories and made me feel like less of a failure and more like a mom.
2. They gave me the solution to my problem (in case you don't remember, my problem was that toddlers have no concept of time) by introducing me to this:
The Ok to Wake Clock was a game changer. All of a sudden, I had something magical that would help my super normal and curious toddler understand that it was not time to wake up and he therefore needed to stay in bed! Basically you set a wake up time and when that time comes around, the clock will turn green. It gives your toddler a reference point they can understand. He still gets up occasionally, he is a human (and therefore flawed) after all, so we go back in, lay him down and explain that he needs to stay in bed until the light turns green. There was one day he kept trying to tell me he could get up when it turned orange (the screen lights up orange-ish when you are setting the clock). As if I would believe him. Rookie move, kid. Someday he will learn moms are the smartest motherfathers ever.
It has been really fun to see him grow in this area. I can watch him in his monitor crawling around his bed either playing or reading or just being weird. I can tell he wants to get out so bad, but knows that the clock is not green, so he has to stay in bed. The best is when you hear him in the morning announcing, "Oh look. It's green. It's time to PLAY!" I always try to go in right after the light goes off and congratulate him on being awesome and get really excited about being able to play with him. He beams with pride and says, "good job" to himself, because he's the coolest.
So that's my personal experience. I'll follow up soon with some tips I would share with a friend who is about to make this transition.