Step 1: Plan a weekend getaway with your husband and ask the grandparents to watch your kids.
You haven’t had a kids-free overnight stay with your husband since your second child was born. A little momma/daddy time is well overdue.
Step 2: Assume (foolishly) your 15-month-old will enjoy a weekend at Mimi and Papa’s. Pack the playpen for him to sleep in, blissfully ignorant of what’s to come. Also pack his favorite blanket and some stuffed animals for good measure.
He’s been sleeping through the night for weeks now, so surely the change of scenery won’t be that big of a deal. There may be a little fussing when you lay him down, but you’re sure he’ll adjust quickly and fall into a sweet, peaceful slumber and dream of lambs and sugar plum fairies.
Step 3: Drive the 2+ hours to the grandparents’ house. Let the kid run around in the yard to dispel all that energy he accumulated on the drive. Fill his belly with pizza and ice cream to lull him into a false sense of security before bedtime.
He got to play outside AND eat junk food, so he should be a happy camper. He should be falling asleep in your arms from all that activity and excitement, not writhing from your gasp at the first sight of the playpen and his pajamas.
Step 4: Change him into his pajamas and make his bed. Kiss him goodnight and sing to him in dulcet tones to induce a drowsy and drama free bedtime experience.
In this moment, you reflect on how sweet it is to have a little boy who loves you so much. You appreciate his snuggles and you grow prematurely nostalgic thinking of the future when he won’t want to cuddle you before bed.
Step 5: Lay him in the playpen. Ignore the immediate wails and ensuing tantrum as you quickly escape the room.
Tell yourself he’ll settle after just a few minutes. He just needs to adjust to the new surroundings, but you know he’s tired and he’ll settle soon. Ignore the little voice in the back of your head telling you this is wishful thinking.
Step 6: Check on him every 5-10 minutes as he continues to scream. Begin to sear your conscience to the relentless wailing.
At this point, you’re trying to remember all that Ferberizing you did when you sleep trained him.
Step 7: Question everything. Adjust lighting, rearrange his bed, change the temperature of the room.
You realize that his bed at home faces the door, so you place him in the bed so he can face the door. You breathe a sigh of relief when he instantly quiets, thinking you found the magic key to unlock the door of toddler sleep secrets.
Step 8: Enjoy a quiet hour of playing cards with in-laws. Feel your confidence rise as you think that bedtime wasn’t so bad, and it’ll be a good night.
Step 9: Sneak into bed in the same room as your sleeping toddler. Close your eyes and begin to drift into sleep just as he awakes and begins to scream. Try to ignore it as you tell yourself he’ll settle in a few minutes.
He probably heard you breathe and now he knows you’re in the room. You wonder if he has night vision like a cat, because it’s pitch dark and you can’t see him yet you’re sure he is watching your every twitch.
Step 10: Question everything again. Sing to him, pat his back, pick him up and lay him down. Try to give him a snack. Try to lay him down next to you. Do this on repeat for 5 hours until you’re bleary-eyed and on the brink of insanity.
During this step, you also Google how to get your toddler to sleep on vacation, and much of the advice you find is the same: Don’t go on vacation.
Step 11: Hear grandpa rummaging around in the kitchen. Pawn your kid off on grandpa and go sleep for a couple of hours.
If grandpa isn’t going to sleep, there’s no point in you losing some sleep, too.
Step 12: Bail the next morning for your road trip getaway with your husband. Wish the grandparents best of luck.
See you later, suckers! Have fun with the grandkids!
This post may or may not have been a slight resemblance to a real life scenario in my life, recently. You probably shouldn’t follow any of this advice, by the way. Also, this was inspired by my friend Marisa and her poignant insight on how to care for an orchid.