Shortly after Norah turned 2, I put her into her crib for bedtime. A minute later, she let out a toddler cackle and hurdled her little body over the crib railing.
"Maybe she'll just climb out that one time," I whispered hopefully.
No. 2 hours later I was still trying to get Norah to sleep in her crib.
The next night, we figured the safe thing would be to convert the crib to a toddler bed.
That was foolish.
Now totally free, Norah was coming out of her room every hour, all night, like precious, maddening clockwork.
A few days into this, I was in a meeting with a coworker. She asked how I was and I answered “Exhausted. Norah isn’t staying in her bed, I'm never going to sleep again and everything is terrible.”
I’m glad I was overly honest at that moment because my coworker’s sister happened to be a sleep consultant who knew the answer to my problem - “I’ll check on you.”
That night I tucked Norah into her bed and sat next to her on the floor. After a few minutes, I told her I was going to the bathroom and I'd be back to check on her, but I could only come to check if she stayed in her bed.
I left the room and came back 1 minute later, rewarding her trust.
It took 3 pretend bathroom breaks until she fell asleep.
The next night we were down to 2.
After a week we didn’t need to sit on the floor at all. A simple “Sweet dreams. I’ll check on you” was all my girl needed to feel comfortable falling asleep.
The beautiful strategy - it was all about accountability & trust. I was there for her, she could trust me, but I also held her accountable.
If she didn’t do the work of staying in her bed, then I couldn’t help her by checking on her. We both had to put in the effort to make this work. And I'm so grateful it worked...
When I think about it, I'm not surprised it worked though.
It's always easier to meet our goals when someone is there for us and checking in.
So here's my unsolicited advice.
If you are in a rut with a goal to meet, find someone to check on you. A coach, a friend, a partner. Someone who will check in on you in a way that makes you feel safe & supported.
Then maybe you can breathe a sigh of relief, and get some much-needed sleep.