Normally we’re all business when it comes to going into Monkey’s room after bedtime. Typical reasons for a visit include because she can’t find her Nuk, or she threw her lovey out of the crib. We don’t engage in any talking, or entertaining, or smiling. Certainly no laughing. We want to avoid sending the message that bedtime is fool around time. We simply go in, resolve the outstanding matter, give her a pat, lay her down and walk out.
We’re actually kind of fanatical about her sleeping habits because she wasn’t a great napper when she was first born — like I could set an oven timer for 22 minutes and she would be up — when she was two weeks old! I was going out of my mind with exhaustion. The kid just NEVER wanted to sleep (unless of course I was holding her). I was determined to amend this situation and whole-heartedly gave myself over to The No Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley, which has tips for napping and nighttime sleep. My cousin recommended the book after having great success with it. By the time Monkey was four months old, her napping and nighttime sleep had gotten into really good rhythms. And by the time she was seven months, old she was sleeping 10 hours straight!
I feel somewhat validated by my strict adherence to sleep policies given an article this week from CNN that talks about how enforcing bedtimes, especially early ones, improves kids’ health. It also reiterates my two key take aways from The No Cry Sleep Solution – toddlers between the ages of 1 and 3 needs 12-14 hours of sleep (that’s A LOT!), and well-meaning parents mistakenly believe that keeping their babies/toddlers up later will help them sleep later and/or better, when actually it backfires and overtired kids take longer to fall asleep and wake more frequently at night. A lot of my friends make fun of me for putting Monkey to bed between 7 and 7:30 p.m., but she sleeps until 7 a.m.! And she still takes one two-hour nap a day!
Anyway, last night after Monkey had been in bed, asleep for about an hour, we heard a loud clunk. My husband turned to me and said “I think she just hit her head.” Loud crying ensued. The crying where you know it’s for real and not just a fake attempt to get attention. We both ran in there and she was sitting up, crying, in a somewhat daze. I crouched down next to her crib and whispered, “Are you okay?” and smiled at her. She stopped crying and smiled back. Then I giggled. Probably because we don’t normally interact with her when we have to go in her room after bedtime. Then she giggled. It was one of those slaphappy, half-awake giggles. And it was so funny! So I started giggling more because of the way she giggled back. Before you knew it, we were both consumed in a full-on giggle attack! And her laughter made me laugh harder. Pretty soon my husband was laughing too. We all just sat there in the glow of her fish tank soother, LAUGHING. I was laughing so hard I was crying. Then she really got revved up and started jumping up and down in her bed laughing. And then she got the hiccups. From all of the laughing. I finally composed myself, managed to squeak out a “night night,” and left the room. Only to break out into the giggles again. I probably had a smile on my face for three hours afterward. Why? Because it reminded me of some of my favorite moments with my two best girl friends. The ones where whatever it was that was funny in the first place, isn’t even why you’re laughing anymore. You’re laughing because the other person is laughing. Until you’re all laughing so hard that you can’t even breathe, or see, and you have throbbing “laughing” pains in your head from the force of all your laughter. I think this goes down as one of my favorite simple moments with Monkey. I am so looking forward to more silly moments with my daughter.