- Sleep through the night by the time they are four months old
- Stay in their beds at bedtime and not cry once they are in a toddler bed
- Not be afraid of the dark so that they won't need a night light and will sleep better
- Happily do all of their bedtime rituals without any trouble (including teeth brushing)
- Understand that nightmares are not real and be able to go back to sleep within 15 minutes of waking up
- Wake up in the morning when you want them to, not too early and not too late
- Come to the breakfast table refreshed and cheerful after their healthy night of rest
- Continue these habits well into the teens years and beyond, achieving good health, good grades, prosperity, and inner peace.
Seriously, did you really think I was going to venture into the minefield of giving advice about bedtime rituals and how to get kids to do it better? Are you nuts? After my confession in yesterday's post? No way! I have no advice to give! Everyone I know does this better than I do.
That being said, I will give one piece of advice that I happened upon by accident. The situation arose gradually without me even realizing it was happening. Now that I look back on how I handled the whole thing, I don't think I made any mistakes. It may be the sole thing in my career as a parent that I can say that about. The issue? Blankie.
Blankie made an entrance into my daughter's life on her first birthday. I was flat broke and I wanted to give her something that she would especially like. With some money I had earned from making display pillows for the local Cloth World, I went back to the store and bought some inexpensive flannel and peach-colored, polyester satin. From those two pieces I crafted a big, soft, baby blanket.
Her first name was Kiki, which my daughter dubbed her when she was about 2. And yes, Kiki was gendered. She was a she. Many times during the day I would hear, "mama, where kiki? where her?" or "she soft" or "I want her." It never occurred to me to question this. Sure, she was an only child and freaked out if the blankie wasn't to be found, but that's what all kids did, right?
Kiki went to childcare every single day. On the days I got to drop in on my daughter during naptime, there she would be snuggled up on her mat with the blankie wrapped all around her and always with an edge in her hands, held close to her face. I would lie next to her for a few minutes and listen to her gentle, sleeping breathing.
By the time my daughter was five, the blanket didn't have a name anymore per se, she was just "my blankie." And she became inanimate - "it." Her blankie went everywhere with her, though. Sure, it was hidden away where others couldn't see it. In the front pocket of her backpack to kindergarten, in the pillow case if she went somewhere for a sleepover. On trips, ALWAYS in her carry-on and NEVER in checked baggage. I think around second grade she stopped taking it to school and to birthday parties. By middle school it was a sleeptime-only thing. Now that she's 16 years old, she never goes a night without it.
It went with her when her father and I divorced. She brought it with her every time she spent time with him, every time she spent the night at his house. When she came home, it got washed right away to get the secondhand smoke and dog dander out. And it had to be ready for her to go to bed at our house.
Throughout all this, I accepted that this was all just fine. People in our extended family tease her, she doesn't care. Her friends don't dare question it. She is fine with saying she sleeps with a blanket and doesn't put up with any guff from anyone who tries to bug her about it.
When she is away from the house, sometimes I nap in her bed and snuggle with her blankie myself. It smells like her. She even did something the other day that I never thought she would. She was playing with my baby daughter, her little sister. She laid her blankie and her sister on the bed and wrapped the baby up in the blankie. She told her, 'you need to go to sleep!' and proceeded to rock her in her arms.
I've heard stories about parents being concerned about loveys, that their child was getting too attached to an inanimate object, maybe some deep-seeded fear of Freudian ills. Or maybe just that their child was immature. By some miracle, I've escaped those fears and worries. In a way, I feel comforted that she is attached to her blankie. It's something I made for her while she was a baby and something I wrapped her in. As a grown girl, she still wants to be wrapped up in it. Through the tween and teen years, there are precious few ways a mother can wrap her daughter up and hold her close to her. I'm glad that this extension of my physical affection for her is still part of her daily routine.