Last summer I needed a project. I was failing at getting pregnant, and needed something to distract me, so I took on the decorative project of getting M's "big girl" room ready. My plan was to redecorate the biggest of our 3 spare bedrooms into a luxurious girly space that she would immediately fall in love with, and want to spend all her time in, especially the hours that she slept. I spent most of my free time for a few months deciding on a color scheme, the bed (headboard or full bed - twin or double?), the bedding, the furniture, the wall stencils, the lighting, the window treatments...blah blah...I was going balls to the wall with this project.
Most parents I know take the rails off the crib and convert it into a toddler bed. I had decided to put M in a bed/room fit for a princess. I had also decided to buy her a bed (a double) and a dresser that she would use for, what I hope will be, the next 10 years of her life. I bought her fabulous bedding at Bloomingdales (way on sale) that my mother took one look at and was like "you know you probably should have gotten something cheaper and kid friendly."
No way grandma! My daughter will appreciate this fabulous stuff - she will love the scrolly metal bed that I bought her, and the beautiful dresser, and the hours that I spent strategically painting the graphic flowers all over her wall. She will totally think I am the coolest for the art work that I created using the paper dolls from my childhood mounted on handmade paper!
She was only about a year and a half at the time that I began this endeavor, and almost 2 when I finished. During those six months she went into her new room a few times, mostly to admire all the big "flowders" on the walls...and never really paying attention to the beautiful bed in the center of the room. So for the first part of 2012 the room sat there decorated to the nines, with decorative pillows in place...with no child to enjoy it. That is until about a month ago...
My husband and I decided that we should take a crack at this whole big girl bed thing. We have a baby coming this summer, and it would be one less thing to deal with if we just went ahead and made "the switch." So we started moving some of her toys and books over to the big girl room, and then started playing in there during the day to get her interested. I would ask her "do you want to nap in your big girl bed?" and the answer was always "no thanks." But we continued to spend more time in there, and eventually I got her to climb up on the bed and lay with me...and after a while of doing that she actually asked to nap in there!
I had purchased a second camera for our Lorex monitor, so the first time she napped in there I stood outside her door watching her on the monitor. I only had to use the two way communication feature a few times to tell her to get back in bed, and go in there once to actually put her back in the bed, and then she slept for three hours! It was a festivus miracle.
Nights were a little different - we started her in the big girl bed a few nights, but I don't think we were committed to the whole process, as after about 30 minutes of putting her back in bed, we just put her in the crib for our own sanity's sake. Three nights later though we decided to go whole hog and tough it out. Lo and behold it after about 45 minutes she was sound asleep!! And slept through the night without making a peep. Another Festivus miracle!
So that was 5 nights ago...and we haven't looked back at the crib since. We are still trying to find our groove with the falling asleep portion of bed time. M is so excited to be in this new space, with all her stuff in new places, that she loves to crawl out of bed and grab a book and sit in the corner and "read" or "clean up the place" (as she says) by moving her legos from one bin to the next all by the light of her nightlight. Eventually she tires herself out and stays in bed, and so far (knock on everything) the nights have been drama free.
And my mother is right - she doesn't care about the fancy bed and bedding (of which the duvet cover is now crumpled at the bottom of her bed) of course. But it does warm my heart whenever she says "look Mama painted flowers on the wall! So pretty!" - at least I know that was worth it.
This is a love/hate situation for Mama though. I love more than anything those couple minutes every night that I lay with her in her bed, about 6 inches from her face, and stare into her eyes and sing her a song...I seriously tear up every time as I take in her beautiful little face that is growing up way too quickly for my taste. But I hate going into her "baby room" where her crib remains empty - it makes me sad that it is the end of an era for M. I feel like next week we will be taking her to get her driver's license!
Now if only I can get M onboard for her baby sister's arrival. She is actually acknowledging the fact that there is a baby in Mommy's belly, but not the fact that that baby will soon be on the outside of Mommy and getting a whole lot of attention.
The answer to "do you want Mommy to bring home a baby sister for you to help take care of?" is still "No, thank you." Hell, at least she is polite about it.