I have a 2 and a half year old and a 5 year old. I try to do dinner at 6-6:30 (often they aren't hungry at that time so get hungry later - do you feed them?). Then, 7-7:30 pm is bathtime. I try to do stories at 8pm, but they are jumping up and down or my 5 year old (the real issue) starts acting wild. I feel her anxiety, her chaos and I don't know how to help her. I think she needs me, my undivided attention but once the lights go off, my 2 and half year old needs me, or so he's made me think. I end up yelling at both. My 5 year old knows the rules, but isn't following them anymore: to stay in bed and be quiet and still so I could get the baby to sleep. And, the 2 and a half year old is taking over an hour to fall asleep... and he's last to sleep, first to rise. They both want me to lie with them and I can't, even though they share a room, it's like they both want me on their bed with them. One night, I tried just looking at my 5 year old while she talked and talked and thought that's what she needs, but I can't make that happen every night - depends on the 2.5 year old's mood or level of sleepiness. I also have tried turning the lights off in my bed with both in there after reading books, but the 2.5 year old insists on going to bed in his own bed. I don't know what to do. I end up yelling and screaming because I'm so exhausted and I'm sure they are scared of nighttime now because I'm feeling so angry every night. Not to mention, they are both waking up like every hour or more from 2am on. I came home today after getting them to school and tried to nap, but couldn't. I don't sleep easily during the day and sometimes have insomnia (like when one kid wakes me up at 2am and then I can't fall back asleep until 4am). I don't know what's wrong with my own brain and behavior so how can I help my kids sleep when I can't even help myself sleep?
By the way, I also have made up a "special bed" as Dr. Sears suggests on his website, but that doesn't prevent my 5 year old from waking me. And, my 2.5 year old, I'm not even thinking something like that would work with him yet.
If anyone can help me, I will sooo appreciate your time. I have wanted to get and give support here for years, but I can never seem to get on the computer because of sleep deprivation.... 5 years now. My oldest has been the most challenging child I have ever known or heard of, in many ways.... but also I know she's had lots of traumas too so I certainly don't blame her (well, except at bedtime? Ugh!) I just feel so horrible a mother!
You must be so tired! First, you can't be in two places at once, and that is the challenge. I have similarly aged kids (one just now turned 4 and the other is 7 1/2). I have been single parenting for about 18 months now because my husband is deployed. Before that he wasn't around much due to work.
I found that w/ the older one what I needed to do was set him up with a portable dvd player in a quiet place (maybe your bed, since the kids share a room) while I got the younger in bed. Maybe use a timer to limit the time that you lay down w/ the younger. I found that the timer is more impersonal, and less likely to generate arguments than if I just say "times up." Then you have 30 minutes or so of time alone w/ older in your room before you tuck her in. Give both kids a timer so the older knows when you will be coming out to her. Explain that unless the house is on fire or she is bleeding she needs to stay w/ the tv or video. My eldest has fought sleep since the day he was born and youngest wants snuggles at bedtime.
I also can't nap during the day, and tend to have trouble falling back asleep. I have the older one now understand that he is not to disturb me before X time in the morning (time varies depending on my schedule). Would a mild sleep aid, like Benadryl, help you at all?
I sympathize w/ your anger and frustration and bedtime. By the time bedtime rolls around here I am usually really desperate for some "me time" and I was the kids to go to bed NOW. I think this is fairly common for overworked parents and please don't beat yourself up over it. Just do the best you can.
I do feed my kids at bedtime if they are hungry. Meals are very informal around here and I'd rather let them have some cereal or a piece of toast or whatever and get them into bed than deal w/ the drama. I make sure they have their water, their stuffed animals, etc.
I'm not sure what is going on w/ them waking up so much after 2 a.m. Is there ia nightlight (very dim) in their room in case they are scared? Are they waking each other up?
I hope this helps.
ETA - this is kind of not ideal parenting but mornings got easier for me when the older one learned how to get up and turn on the tv by himself. Now sometimes both kids get up and watch tv for 30 minutes or so before i get out of bed. I do wake up when I hear them moving around the house, but I don't have to immediately haul myself out of bed.
Can you shove their beds together, into one big bed?
When my oldest 2 were that age, they shared a double bed, and that was even before I got divorced. And now, they are 6 and 8 and have twin beds shoved together and fall asleep (without me) reading books together every night.
Seriously, mama, just do whatever it takes. For a while I had all 4 of my kids in one bedroom -- my olders (then 5,5, and 7) all wanted me to be in their rooms (but didn't need me in their beds) and my littlest (then 2) was still nursing to sleep. So for a while I had all 4 kids in one room. Now, we're back to separate rooms for all but the oldest boys, and I lie with my youngest (now 3) till he falls asleep. I bring my laptop in and use the time as my time to goof off on the internet -- that keeps me from getting crazy and resentful if it takes him a long time to fall asleep.
Hang in there, and don't feel bad about doing whatever you have to do. Things are hard enough.
I've been putting my 2 boys (who are 4 years apart) to bed on my own since the youngest was a baby. We had a California King bed and I would lie in the middle with the baby on the wall side and the older one on the other side (he had a toddler bed there for about a year, which he'd get moved into when my ex got home and we went to bed, too) We always have "quiet chatting time" and the baby would nurse or climb on me while I talked quietly with hte older on or tried gently singing to him until he was asleep. Often the baby would fall asleep, too, or I'd just take him out of the bedroom with me to nurse at the computer, until he stopped napping and was able to go to sleep at the same time.
One thing that changed our lives was discovering that my oldest was sleep deprived. Both my kids are early risers almost no matter when they go to bed (they do NOT sleep in!) so getting to bed at least 11 hours (or what was appropriate for their ages, you can find charts online of the hours of sleep required for human beings) before they were waking up was super important. They also aren't the kind of people who get drowsy - they actually get more amped up the more tired they get, so we can't go by the standard "sleep cues". Once I was getting them to bed at the right time for them, things got much easier all around. We had to cut out anything that made them more awake, so rarely have stories and never baths before bed.
I still really don't like bedtime, but my oldest is 10 now and it's gotten more mellow. With both of them it was somewhere around 5 that I could start leaving the room before they were asleep and there were times I really resented that but it got way easier once I started planning it into my routine, even planning to fall asleep with them for an evening nap (since it was happening anyway!). Now I know and expect that I will get nothing done except making dinner and getting the boys to bed between 5ish and 7ish (an hour later in the summers) so I don't have frustration about it. and a non-frustrated momma makes bedtime happier
Robin~ single, work-at-home momma to my Wonderboys
BigKid (6/00) & LittleBoy (6/04)
I have finally figured out that when DS (almost 3 yrs.) gets wild in the evening, it means he's more tired than I thought he was, and I've probably missed his sleep window. We were also doing baths pretty close to bedtime because I thought that would help calm him down (not so much!!), and I'd started leaning a little too heavily on DVD-watching so I could get supper fixed. So, I had to totally rethink the bedtime plan because it just wasn't working.
Keep in mind, we've only been doing this consistently for a matter of days, but everything has already improved so much. DS is a very energetic kid, so the nightly theme is calm and relax. We get home around 5:30-5:45, do baths early (6:00-ish), then he "helps" me make supper. We eat supper together, either at the table or picnic-style on the floor. No TV/DVD's. If he doesn't want to eat then, that's fine. He's usually nibbled on supper while he helps me cook, so I know he's getting a little something in his tummy. When I get done eating, I might offer him a small snack, but if that's refused, then that's it. His appetite has improved since we've started eating later and since he's started helping me more in the kitchen.
If there's time, we might try to do something quiet before bed...read a book, help me put clothes onto wash, drawing, a puzzle, sticker book, etc. Then bedtime starts no later than 7:30-7:45pm... brush teeth, lights out, and into bed. We co-sleep and DS still nurses some at night, so that's a bonus to help calm him down. Even on a good night, it takes him at least an hour to go from starting the bedtime routine to asleep. Before, I would start the bedtime routine around 8:00-8:30, and I think that was just too late (for him...it might work perfectly well for other kids). I've also occasionally used this technique for guided meditation in lieu of a nightly story/book, and it seems to help, too.
Like PP said, I don't plan to get anything done except food and bedtime stuff in the evenings. If I manage to have some time for myself later, then wonderful! But I also need my sleep, so many nights I go to sleep right after DS does. Sorry I don't have any suggestions for more than one kid, since I only have DS!
Mama to DS (7)