Friday, October 8, 2010

Bedtime Lockdown

I am about to share with you a part of our bedtime routine which makes some mothers cringe. Now, now, don't let your mind wander because I do not have any cages laying around the house or a Tuff Shed converted into a toddler prison in the backyard. What I do is much more humane and in my experience has been suggested by experts. I lock my children's doors from the outside when they go to sleep at night. That's right, after 730 Lash and Remy lose their household privileges and are forced to stay in their rooms to do the unthinkable. SLEEP.

After you get over the original shock of hearing a mother say she locks her children's doors you may start to wonder about the possible fire hazard. Fear not good people. It's not like I have a padlock on the doors or several chain locks that would be impossible to slide in an emergency. No, we simply turned their knob locks around so the little locking mechanism faces into the hallway. In case of fire or unwanted intruder all we have to do is turn the little thingy and the boys are free!!! I have also discussed this around my firefighter brother in law and he didn't seem to disagree with it and usually he'll speak up about safety no matter what (like when we were installing our car seats without having them checked) so I took his silence as his blessing.

Now that the fire concern is out of the way and you have not decided to stop following the blog of such an evil and sadistic mother allow me to explain why I added locks to our night time routine and what information later vindicated my decision.

If you read my blog back in February you might know that my husband and I went to New Orleans for our annual 7 day kid less vacation. During our break from parenting duties my husband's mom kindly came to Vegas and watched my little dudes. She does a great job and my boys get to stay in their home while we are away allowing them some shred of normalcy without their lifeline, me. Upon our return home all seemed well until I went to bed that night. Around 10 or 11 I woke up suddenly to see a tiny little shadow scurrying around the hallway. This had never happened before because my children have been great sleepers since they were 4 months old. They had both been moved into toddler beds months prior and had never broken the golden rule of "stay". Though I knew the shadow was one of my toddlers it freaked me the fuck out. It was like one of those horror movies where a doll has come alive and is creeping around your house giggling wickedly. I got up and found my oldest Lash in the hallway. He informed me he was on his way to Remy's room for some play time. I sleepily admonished him and put him back in bed threatening bodily harm should he get up again. Though he went back to sleep that night every night after that one or both boys would get up throughout the night. I was perplexed to say the least (and tired as I hadn't had to night wakings since they breast fed).

After like 3 days of that nonsense I interrogated my father who lived with us at the time and he explained that it was something that started on day 2 of us being gone and that he had been the one to constantly put them back to bed because my mother in law is a hard sleeper. He also explained that she didn't address the situation thinking they would sleep sooner or later. She also thought they would sleep in the next day to make up for any lost sleep (which they never did because no matter what time they go to sleep or how many hours they lose at night they are up at the ass crack of dawn). I was worried because though we have a gate at the top of our stairs, my boys being the monkeys that they are, have often tried to climb the gate which leads to a straight drop down the stairs. I pictured being woken up to a broken and crying 2 year old laying lifeless on the stairs in the middle of the night. Not a picture to have in your head before bed at night.

The drop from our gate at the top of our stairs

I discussed the issue with Dave and the solution we came up with to keep Lash and Remy safe from themselves as well as preserve my much needed sleep (you haven't seen a bitch until you've seen me working off of 4 hours of sleep) was to turn their knobs around and lock them in. I know you've moved from fire terror to concern about the mental health of my kids. What would locking them in at night do to their psyche? Would they feel unloved like a dog left at the pound to rot? The answers are they're fine and no. On the first night of "Lock Down: Houston House" I explained to both boys that we would be locking their doors because it wasn't safe for them to wonder the house at night. I let them know that I had monitors for their rooms and would be able to hear them if they needed me but they needed to go to sleep and stay in their bed (or room at least) until morning. They were wary at first but have become totally used to it. Lash locks his door that leads to his Jack and Jill bathroom (a bathroom that goes through to the bedroom next to his). I placed a little potty in his room so he could relieve himself at night if he needs to, so no he isn't being denied bathroom privileges. This has worked well and though the boys still get up when they are first put to bed, they are safe and end up in bed because it is the only option after they have played for a while.

About the information that vindicated this decision. It did not come from those around me because though none of my friends judged me, none of them agreed with me either and all of them admitted they could "never" do that. I was actually vindicated by a professional (all be it one I watched on TV but a pro none the less). I was watching reruns of that show Raising Sextuplets with the sweet blonde, her anger management dropout husband, and their 6 toddlers one day when I came across an episode dealing with getting the sextuplets to stay in their rooms at night. The producers of the show brought in a sleep expert from Parenting magazine who told blondie and her agro boy to do exactly what I had already done. She explained that when children are babies their crib is their safe place at night but once they graduate into a toddler bed their bedroom becomes their crib. She explained that you must safety proof it (which I have totally done in Lash and Remy's rooms) then lock the door so they are in their safe place. Over time they will learn to just go to sleep (which my boys re-learned after a few weeks). Up until that point I was pleased with my results but wondered if I was doing something wrong. Turns out I was doing something right. I was keeping my boys safe even though those around me felt it was a radical and maybe unacceptable idea. Thank god I am a maverick when it comes to motherhood and follow my instincts not magazines and other moms or I may have had that broken toddler thought become reality.

I don't foresee locking them in forever (though when they're 16 we may turn the joint into San Quentin) but for now it seems like more of a safety requirement. Lash can unlock the front door now and Remy isn't far behind on that skill so until they can fully understand the consequences of such actions as well as the importance of sleeping they will keep their locks. And I will keep my sanity.

What about you? Do you think locking them in is a negative thing which will damage them irreparably or have you gotten an idea from this post? What do you do to keep your little creepers in at night? 

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