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Bedtime with a 7yo, 4yo and newborn

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
Baby isn't here yet. He will be here at the end of July or the beginning of August. Right now I co-sleep with 4yo and 7yo ds. My dh is deployed until spring next year so he's not a factor nor a help. Things are crazy at bedtime. The boys do not settle down. We go upstairs for bed and they continue to run, jump, yell and play no matter how many times I ask or tell them to stop. I have talked to them many times about how they will have to be quiet once the baby comes. I have talked to them about sleeping in their own beds in their own room. They won't. Whenever we have tried to get them to, they wake several times a night and I don't get any sleep. They both sleep all night long when they are with me.

I'm trying to come up with a plan of what to do once the baby is here. I'm the only adult in the home so I can't just sleep with baby and rely on my dh or anyone else to take care of the other kids. The only thing I can come up with is just making everyone lay down in the dark once baby is asleep. I can't really set a schedule since I don't know when or how baby will sleep yet. Anyone have any experiences, suggestions or ideas?
post #2 of 25

I don't have the same experience with bedtime, but I empathize.  My kids all have a routine we do at night.  But, I think the biggest thing is, they have a dad that is home a heck of a lot more than yours do.  It seems like they probably just want the security they are lacking b/c they miss their dad- and maybe they feel like they need to protect you, too.  Maybe have some long conversations about it and explain to them how much they're loved and they are safe and what is best for them and you.  I have a 6 yr old and a 4.5 year old boys- and they understand those conversations I've had with them.  And maybe start a routine of reading a book or telling a story before bed and a prayer or song you sing. 

post #3 of 25

I was pretty much in the same place as you are about to be, with a 3 year old, a 7 year old and a newborn, and a husband who travels tons.  It's hard, I won't lie, but you will get through it!!  I think once your new baby is here, things will have to just work themselves out.  Now, a year later, the two older boys sleep together and will go to bed after being tucked in with books and some snuggles.  But last year, it was chaos, bed hopping, lots of waking up and growing pains, etc.  Not saying this to scare you, but just know that it will all get easier once everyone learns the new routine, whatever that ends up being.  If you have a sleeper (I never do! lol:)) maybe you could all still sleep together.  Maybe you could get a futon mattress on the floor in your room and get the two used to sleeping together but away from you, then try moving the futon further away if you want them to eventually move to their own space.  Good luck!!  And hang in there!  :)

post #4 of 25
Thread Starter 
Thanks, Dolphin. We tried putting their mattresses on the floor next to each other so they would have someone to sleep with, each other, but that didn't work. I'm sure we will all still sleep together at least until my dh returns because I just can't do all the bed jumping again. I have a bed rail so I can put baby on one side of the bed with me next to him. Then the trouble will be how the older boys will agree to sleep. They fight over being next to me right now. I can't even lay on one side facing one of them with my back to the other.

One thing that always works is to just turn out all the lights and have everyone lay down together. Then they will fall asleep fast. It's just getting to that point that's hard. There is a lot of noise and commotion and bickering just getting to the bathroom to brush teeth. If the lights are left on for any length of time after that, which they usually are as I'm getting everything else ready for bed, they start wrestling or doing flips and jumps off the bed or just bickering more.
post #5 of 25

Yah that sounds hard. I have 3 w/ about the same spacing, but baby is almost a year. I just want to say I'm always amazed at what the baby can sleep through- well sleep through lots of noise but wrestling and flips on the same bed-probably not. From dinner time through bed time has always and still is hardest part of day for my fam- and that's with 2 adults. My only suggestions which may or may not work in your situation:

- brush teeth right after dinner (or last snack of the day) and even last pee depending on time = less to deal with right at bedtime

- send the boys outside to run and play right before bed, physically tired sometime = quicker to sleep (sometimes = meltdowns though)

- stories on an ipod radio - my oldest loves this and falls asleep as he listens and can listen to stories much older then what he can read. This setup has saved our night times. I'll admit not as nice as reading story books with mom or dad right before bed but with 3 kids life can't be perfect

- maybe mattress on floor right next to your bed for older boys -they're still right next to you but defines a little space


post #6 of 25
Thread Starter 
I thought of getting ready for bed earlier as I was discussing this issue in another thread. I'm definitely going to try that. I think if all we have to do is climb in bed and turn out the lights, things will be much quieter. They are always quiet and fall asleep pretty quickly once we do that.
post #7 of 25

I think you need clear, non negotiable rules for their bedtime and clear, non negotiable consequences for their non-compliance.  At 4 and 7 you should be able to get them to go to bed at a decent time with minimal drama.  Whether that's them sleeping together/with you or whatever is up to you.  Personally i'd have them sleep together, apart from you and the baby.  With the option to separate them at night if they are not behaving.


I have a 5, 2 and newborn.  2 year old gets a book in her room at 6:30/7pm.  Kiss goodnight, leave the room.

5 year old gets special 'grown up time' for about a half hour past her bedtime.  Then kiss goodnight, leave his room.


If I'm alone for this then I do it holding the baby or if I'm lucky she's sleeping.  


So both kids gone by 7:30/8 and then that give me maybe 2 hours to cluster feed the newborn/watch TV etc.  

post #8 of 25
Thread Starter 
That's way too early for us. I don't want my kids up at the crack of dawn. I really don't appreciate other people telling me how things should be in my home with my children. If I wanted set early bed times and kids in their own beds by a certain, I would have done that. That's not how I do things with my kids. Thanks anyway.
post #9 of 25

where did you say they had a late bedtime?!  Or that you don't all have a seperate bedtime even?


"Anyone have any experiences, suggestions or ideas?"


you might want to omit that from your OP if you don't actually want input.  HTH!

post #10 of 25
Thread Starter 
I did leave out a lot of detail from my OP. I tend to be long-winded so I try to keep things short. I explained in a further post that I can't do all the bed jumping and night waking that goes along with trying to get the boys to sleep in their own room. I need to sleep as much as possible, especially when I'm the only parent in the home. We co-sleep. I guess I just assume that most people realize that, with co-sleeping, everyone pretty much goes to bed at the same time. If you don't have experience with co-sleeping, I guess you wouldn't know that but then I don't understand why you would offer advice on bedtime to a co-sleeping family.

I don't respond well when people tell me what I should do or how me or my children or my family should be, such saying that my kids should go to bed at a "decent" time with minimal drama. I can get that kind of response from anyone on the street that I may ask along with the not-so-nice "suggestion" that my kids should be sleeping in their own beds in their own room(s). I come here to get help and suggestions within the confines of AP that are alternative to the mainstream idea that kids need to be in bed at a decent time and not bother their parents anymore.

I don't think I can explain very well the feeling that I got from the post but it doesn't feel like a gentle, AP, respectful treatment of children way of thinking. I think the idea of thinking in terms of non-compliance to arbitrary rules that I set for my own comfort triggered me as well as the, "should." I do not aspire to be the type of parent who uses my power to force my children to comply with my desires. I aspire to be the type of parent who takes everyone's needs and feelings into consideration and tries to find mutually acceptable solutions to problems. So to initially go to setting non-negotiable rules and enforcing punishments for non-compliance rubs me the wrong way. I thought this was a place to get ideas and suggestions other than the mainstream.
post #11 of 25

We are a cosleeping family up until between 2 and 3 years.  But my kids need 12 hours sleep and go to school so of course they go to bed earlier than me.


Reread what I said.  I said "At 4 and 7 you should be able to get them to go to bed at a decent time with minimal drama. "


That was meant to be REASSURING.  It doesn't say "you should put them to bed early".  It says "you should BE ABLE TO" because I thought it was your goal.  Silly me thinking kids going to bed at a decent hour with minimal drama was, you know, a pretty typical goal.  Especially from someone asking for advice in a sleep forum.  




We don't have 'arbitrary' rules here.  My kids need 12 hours sleep and get up around 7.  So, that's bedtime set.  I have 3 kids.  I can't have them wreaking havoc every night.  It's not healthy for anyone.  So, we have bedtime rules.  We're 'mainstream' like that.  eyesroll.gif

post #12 of 25

I just wanted to add in here.  This conversation is getting a bit heated/ confrontational.  D_McG, I agree with you in so many ways and think you are a straight shooting person.  Marine Wife- I think you are looking for some ideas that will create a little more structure or order or maybe just sanity to your life, but I'm not sure how you can do that with little ones making a decision with you in the peak of their tiredness.  I think you may be expecting your kids to receive their needs, but you are not expecting to receive yours.  I don't think any relationship is meant to be completely equal at all times.  Sometimes one person is going to give more than the other, or take more than the other- not out of spite, but out of circumstances.  You are pregnant, will very soon have a newborn, have an absent husband, and other children to tend to- not to mention house duties and life in general.  Their job is to be kids- and in learning to be a good moral human being that gives and loves people.  So, it seems to follow, that showing them to give you time alone with your baby might help them to respect other people's needs as well as their own.  There is a balance that needs to be met- giving to others and speaking for themselves. 

post #13 of 25
Thread Starter 
I don't want to argue. I'm sorry that I made assumptions and jumped to conclusions. I guess I'm extra emotional and reactive right now being very pregnant, having my dh deployed for a long time (again), and having been sick with a cold for the past week. I also think I have other issues going on that I really don't want to get into here.

Like I said, I don't respond well to shoulds. I'm not really seeing the difference between, "should" and "should be able to". Maybe I'm not able to. Maybe my kids are not able to. Maybe I have one extremely hyper child who has a very difficult time settling down and one very sensitive child who has a difficult time dealing with said hyper child, two children (or maybe more) who need a lot of parental attention and involvement. I could force them to comply regardless of how they feel. I know how to do that. I can get that answer almost anywhere. I've also btdt and it didn't work out too well in the long run. Like I said previously, I would much rather find a way for us all to work together to have a more peaceful, pleasant time and that's where I am struggling. I am looking for alternatives to the mainstay, set a bedtime, follow a strict routine and stick to it no matter how anyone feels about it. That's how the post sounded to me. If that's not what was meant, I apologize for misunderstanding. It would seem, too, that you don't actually have experience co-sleeping with more than one child or with older children since your children are out of the family bed by the age of 2 or 3.

Also, for the record, I wouldn't consider this merely a sleep forum. It is entitled The Family Bed and Nighttime Parenting. To me, that implies co-sleeping and the continuation of parenting children even at night. I've been on MDC for a long time and it has historically been a place for support for alternatives to the mainstream, which is why I come here rather than other parenting websites. There are many places I can go to get advice and info on making rules, setting limits (i.e. bedtimes) and so forth. Again, ime, most of the time this includes parents completely discounting how their children feel because it doesn't work with the rules. Many, many people that I am exposed to IRL do not seem to believe in nighttime parenting. They set bedtimes for their kids and then say they are done parenting for the day. They are off the clock, so to speak. I don't really get how a parent can ever be off the clock but whatever. And again, I am looking for alternatives to that, ways that my kids and I can work together rather than me setting external rules for them and them forcing them to comply with said rules.

I do fully expect to have my needs met, just not at the expense of my kids. I'm not sure what is meant by having my children make a decision at the peak of their tiredness. What decision are they making? We have a routine. We got to bed around the same time every night. We do pretty much the same thing every night to get ready for bed and once we get into bed. It's only recently that my boys have started all the noise and fuss and commotion on the way to bed. It's mostly around getting upstairs and getting into the bathroom to brush teeth and then getting into bed. They continue to play and, along with their play, comes bickering. Also, it's mostly the younger one, the 4yo. He has a much harder time settling down and being quiet. Until I turn out the lights and we all lay down he can't even seem to sit or lay still for any length of time.

I do think one major thing that will help is doing as much to get ready for bed earlier. That way when it's time to actually lay down and go to sleep that's all we have to do.

I'm rambling on and on, which I didn't mean to do. I also didn't mean to perpetuate the argument.
post #14 of 25

I think if you edit your OP to emphasize a family bed, family bedtime, a total unwillingness to change that and consensual living you might get what you're looking for.


FTR:  A simple "thanks but I don't think that would work for us" is a nice way to respond to someone who offers SOLICITED advice.


You're welcome.

post #15 of 25

After I read your first post, OP, and before I read the rest of the thread I was about to suggest the same thing that D_McG did. I have an 8, 5 and 3 year old, and the only one that currently sleeps with me is my 3 yo, although I'm working on moving him to his own bed. What works for me so that the kids settle down in the evenings, is that we all go upstairs and everyone plays in their room alone for a bit, or quietly with each other. I read books to my 3 yo and 5yo in my bed, then the 5 yo easily walks to his bedroom and gets in bed himself. My 8yo reads quietly to himself in his room. Now, this sounds easy and peaceful, but it took a long time and a lot of repetition of this routine to get there. As a newly single mom last summer, I had to figure out what worked best so that bedtime went smoothly. My 5yo in particular used to be extremely difficult around bedtime. For my kids, I've learned that the only surefire way for something to work is to do it over and over and over again until that's basically the way it always has been in their mind. You said it would be impossible to make a schedule now because you don't know what the baby's will be, but you can make a schedule for your older kids if that's the way you choose to go. It doesn't have to be a 7pm bedtime, but even if they go to bed later, a predictable routine would make it easier on everyone. 


I find you can still have flexibility within any routine, so it doesn't have to be set in stone. Now that it's summer, we're all staying up an hour or so later then their usual 8pm/8:30(for the 8 yo) bedtime. It hasn't been a problem since I keep the rest of the routine the same. A routine definitely makes things easier, and I greatly enjoy having a few hours completely alone by myself, and I don't think that translates into not meeting my kids's needs like you implied would be the result. If your children do have a hard time settling down, have you thought about having a really long bedtime routine to allow for that? Maybe that way you wouldn't end up frustrated by trying to get them to bed when they're all wound up. 

post #16 of 25

I have to agree that a reliable routine will help your problems.  Often, children who are overtired and unsure of how to proceed will act out and be busy and jumpy because of uncertainty and an inability to cope when tired.  And I have to say that I coslept with my eldest for 2 years and never went to bed with him - I can't go to sleep early enough and he can't stay up late enough.  Preschoolers need about 12 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period, adults don't.


post #17 of 25


Originally Posted by MarineWife View Post
 I guess I just assume that most people realize that, with co-sleeping, everyone pretty much goes to bed at the same time. If you don't have experience with co-sleeping, I guess you wouldn't know that but then I don't understand why you would offer advice on bedtime to a co-sleeping family.


I wouldn't have known that.  I cosleep with two and they go to bed about 3 hours before me.  I'd give you my suggestions, but someone already suggested what we do and it didn't go over well.  I hope you manage to find what you're looking for.

post #18 of 25

Whenever we have co-slept, the kids certainly didn't go to bed at the same time as me.  Simply, because most children need WAY more sleep than adults and I needed to take that into consideration as well.


I thought about responding to your OP asking for suggestions, but I've decided that maybe I shouldn't... you have not been particularly gracious in accepting solicited advice.    Just as an afterthought:  my kids go to bed at a decent time "for OUR family" because they need to sleep well in order to function well (just as I do) not because I want to not be bothered by them anymore or because we're not AP!   


I guess I don't take it well when people want to tell me that my ideas aren't AP or are too mainstream because they don't fit in with their own or what they think AP SHOULD be!

post #19 of 25

We co-slept 4 years, until DD decided her bed in her room was cooler, and after about 10 months old DD always went to sleep earlier than I did. She'd nurse to sleep then I 'd get out of bed. A 4 year old needs 10 to 12 hours sleep per day, a 7 year old needs 9 to 10, and an adult needs 7 to 8. So how does it work with all of you having one bedtime? Are either of your boys in school or preschool? How is an adult bedtime working with getting up at 7 or 8? My DD, 5.5 now, sleeps exactly 10 hours. She's a major grump if she misses out on more than 15 minutes of sleep. If either of your boys is not getting enough sleep that could be adding to the problem. Often an overtired preschooler is a hyper one.


If I had kids the ages of your boys, I'd put the 4 year old to sleep by laying down with him while the 7 year old did a quiet activity. Then you could do a relaxing bedtime activity with your 7 year old before he went to sleep. 7 is a common age for kids to need more of their own space so your older boy may be ready to go to sleep on his own. Since they compete on who sleeps by you, he could be still co-sleeping because his brother is.

Originally Posted by MarineWife View Post
 I guess I just assume that most people realize that, with co-sleeping, everyone pretty much goes to bed at the same time. If you don't have experience with co-sleeping, I guess you wouldn't know that but then I don't understand why you would offer advice on bedtime to a co-sleeping family.
post #20 of 25

HUGS. My kids periodically go through stages of being really hyper and unrully at bedtime.


I don't think you can plan in advance. I mean you can, but if you try to have a new routine established in the next 2 months, it will be very stressful for everyone if you try to prep the kids in advance. The idea that they have to be quiet when the baby arrives might be scary to them, they miss their daddy and feel your stress, and feel that huge changes are coming. When they see their little sibling, it will be easier for them to understand and relate. Besides, it is very likely that the little one won't be as sensitive about noise as you think. I did ask my kids to be quietER, but I never got too panicky about the noise. I believe things will fall into places when the baby arrives, and a new routine will just emerge naturally.


At one point I had a craft table set up for the older kids, when I was putting the newborn to bed, and later we all joined her. Or I had her in a sling as I read to them at bedtime. Sometimes I let my older two watch cartoons when I was putting DD2 to bed. It was NEVER as difficult or stressful as I thought it would be, and since DH travelled a lot, I was quite often by myself with the kids.



The only thing that really scared me, was to have all 3 of them throwing up at night, when DH was away, but this never happened.


I think co-sleeping is wonderful, we all love it, but it has its challenges. For me, going with the flow was the best solution. The bad stages always resolved themselves, and in retrospect, were quite short.


Good luck!


ETA: I just read some of the discussion above. FWIW, our kids go to bed at the same time as us, and this is what we enjoy as co-sleepers. When I need more time to myself, I get up earlier than them.

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