Over the weekend, about the worst thing I can think of happened. My toddler started climbing out of her crib. We were camping and after I figured she was good and tired, I laid her down in the pack n play and walked out of the tent to sit by the fire ring with the rest of the family. We’ve had the same pack n play for more than a decade and it’s served us well. I can’t remember either of the other two kids climbing out of it, but about 3 seconds after I stepped out of the tent and zipped it up there was a thud and she came running. I laid her back down, hoping she didn’t realize what she’d done, but she was back out in a jiffy. That night and the next, I had to lay down with her until she fell asleep then transfer her to the pack n play when the adults went to bed.
Fast forward a couple days, we’re back home, the toddler should be extra tired, I lay her down in her regular crib, and walk out of her room, something I’ve done at least 400 times since she moved into her own room. No sooner was I out of the door than BOOM! She’s out of the crib and comes running. I go back into her room and try again, and again, and again. Finally, the weight of my new reality sinks in. She’s not going to go to sleep without someone with her.
So I settle in to wait for her to fall asleep deep enough that I can make it out and get the older kids ready for bed. This is where the ninja skills come into play. You see, once a toddler is asleep, my experience is that one false move on getting out of his or her room turns into the child popping awake and instantly going into a state of agitation. This can range from simple crying to full on abandonment panic.
So, after the little one is finally asleep, I have to call all of my skills at stealth to the test to get out of her room like a shadow. This involves a combination of not stepping on any toys, not bumping into things, making sure it’s as dark as possible, and keeping away from any squeaky spots in the floor. I’m a little rusty at it, so the skills haven’t fully come back yet. Plus, this has only been my new reality for a couple of days. I’ll only get better as time goes on!
While I figure out the best way to get my toddler to sleep without having to lay down near her, my wife and I looked at a couple other options. I was toying with putting something together with plywood and screws or zip ties to cover the crib and keep a lid on things. Apparently that wasn’t an acceptable option. We also looked at crib tents (Who knew that was a thing?) but couldn’t find anything that would exactly fit our crib. So, while we ultimately transition to a toddler bed or twin size bed, I’ll be making myself comfortable on the floor while waiting for my toddler to fall into blissful slumber. If you see a shadow passing by, that may only be me sneaking away from bed time!