We lead a very unstructured lifestyle. All three adults have been self-employed for most of our careers, and sticking to a schedule is really not our strong suit. I tried to do it, for months on end; schedules posted around the house, bedtime rituals, menu plans, but it never really worked. Each day ended with me lying in bed for hours with Lucy trying to get her to follow a bedtime schedule, while she cried piteously at the thought of all that fun happening without her.
Before long, I just gave up. At the time it felt like a combination of laziness and frustration, and later grew into faith that she would figure it out herself, and we would provide her with the neccessary resources. For a long time, she would tell me when she was tired (sometimes as late as 12:30 pm) and I would rock, nurse, pat, sing, and generally break every rule of "sleep hygiene." She would wake many times a night, crying needing help going back to sleep.
And gradually, it got better. Sleep stretches got longer and longer, until 6 hours or more was the rule, not the exception. Going to sleep got easier too, until this week when she reached the ultimate goal: she says "I'm tired," closes her eyes, and goes to sleep. Simple, beautiful, and worth the wait.