My DS will be 4 in January. He really only nurses at nap (which he doesn't always take) and nightetime, but at night he nurses a lot. Sometimes I feel like it's all night. Occassionally he nurses during the day if he's very bored or upset. All in all it's fine. The night bit is getting difficult because it takes a long time for me to get him down and I'm no longer able to sleep well while he nurses. Those are my struggles, but DH has been expressing for sometime his discontent about our nursing relationship and that DS still sleeps in our bed. I try to be aware and sympathetic of his frustration. The biggest issue for both of us is how long it takes to get him down at night. Sometimes it's over an hour, and sometimes I just fall asleep with him. Since it's really the only alone time DH and I get together, it is frustrating and I have begun to think it's really affecting our relationship. In respecting DH's feelings I've been telling him for sometime that if it's bothers him, he needs to start trying to get DS down sometimes at night. We started doing this ages ago and it went okay for sometime, then DH stopped for awhile for whatever reason and when he tried DS would freak out and just scream for me (although this was over a year ago). Thus far, DH has never started it up again. So last night I was trying to get DS down and it was not working. He would nurse, and talk, and nurse, and talk. Then DH burst through the door and said "this isn't working. I'm over it" and told DS that it was time he started sleeping on his own and going to sleep by himself and if that meant he didn't go to bed until later so he would just go to sleep, so be it. There were so many things that went through my head when he did that. The first is that DH and I have such different parenting philosophies (which has been obvious for a while) and nursing is the canary in the coalmine. Second is how to do "damage control" with DS. Just to clarify, I will not allow DH to force DS to sleep alone or without any assistance to fall asleep. I know it would completely devastate and crush DS not mention me. If anything I expect there will be a backlash where DS may cling to me even more. So, I guess I have two questions:
1. Any suggestions on how to help a child to go to sleep more quickly at night?
2. Any techniques for dealing with an unsupportive/frustrated partner when it comes to CLW?
I hope you don't mind if I say I agree with your dh. A 4 y/o is able of falling asleep by himself.
However, I don't think CLW has much to do with it. Ds weaned at 4 years and at that point he needed help from me with his bedtime routine, reading a book, rubbing his back for 5 min or so, but he could fall asleep by himself. We also co-slept until 3.5 y/o.
I find that after a certain age, it helps them more if you stop engaging them at bedtime and let them calm down (sometimes by themselves). I currently co-sleep with my 2 y/o, and our bedtime routine consists in story and nursing, but after the light are off and I'm laying in bed next to her she wants hugs and kisses, then she wants her doll, then she throws away the doll and wants her teddy and so on. So a couple of nights ago after nursing her and she started fidgeting again I gave her a kiss and told her I'll be back in a second. When I came back she was asleep! And the bedroom door was open, she could have gotten up and out of the room. I was too much of a distraction for her and she fell asleep easily without me there.
There are many things you can try. At that age you can reason with him, explain you need some time for you and your dh, and let him fall asleep by himself and reassure him you'll be back to check on him in 10 min. And come back in 10 min so he sees he can trust you. You might be surprised to find him asleep.
You can also leave his bedroom door open, or take him shopping for a special bedtime lamp.
Bedtime with daddy sounds like a great idea too.
Good luck to you, sorry for the long post.
Whether or not your child is capable of falling asleep by himself or not doesn't really matter. What works for your family? What's your philosophy about nighttime parenting? It's not necessarily a CLW issue. My children were "parented" to sleep for years beyond 4, my twins' bedtime nursing was the last to go; my almost 10-year old DS still prefers to sleep in the separate bed in our bedroom so we can chat at bedtime. He "can" fall asleep on his own (and often does), but just as I prefer to cuddle with my DH while falling asleep, my children prefer to have a caring presence next to them while they fall asleep. It's not culturally normal, but that doesn't mean there's anything wrong with it or that your child will never learn to fall asleep on his own.
We night-weaned our twins at about 2 1/2, but kept nursing to sleep for years after that (current nursing is almost 3 and nurses to sleep & at least once in the early morning hours, although that nursing is moving later and later). At some point, I also found that nursing actually seemed to be stimulating for my DS. He would stay awake longer if we nursed. So we moved nursing to earlier in our bedtime routine and would just cuddle to sleep. It really helped that I was at work 1-2 nights a week during bedtime, so DH had been putting them to sleep for some time because he had to, so bedtime was a shared responsibility in our household from fairly early on.
DS as I mentioned still loves to talk while falling asleep. Honestly, I love this time of day. His most creative ideas come out as he's falling asleep, as do the really interesting and challenging questions. Sometimes not what I want to deal with when I'm tired at the end of the day, but knowing his personality, I think I'd miss hearing these questions and ideas otherwise. When I really need him to fall asleep, I have to limit the questions, and be firm about it.
I would definitely encourage your DH to take over bedtime on a regular basis. Maybe you can sign up for a class or join a book group or something that will take you out of the house on a regular basis at bedtime. I'd also have a really frank discussion w/ your DH about what is important to you as parents and how you want to address differences in parenting beliefs. Ideally, those sorts of discussions would occur when your DS isn't around, but kids can learn to adapt to different parenting styles, too. As far as damage control, it's actually a good conversation starter w/ your DS. "Daddy is frustrated that bedtime takes so long. He wants to spend alone time with Mommy, too. I know he didn't mean what he said about you having to fall asleep all by yourself. Sometimes when we're upset we say things we don't mean. I wonder if you have any ideas about what would make it easier for you to fall asleep." Your son might surprise you with his ideas.
As a PP noted, if you do want to move toward him falling asleep on his own, you can always lie down w/ him for a certain time, then start getting up for gradually longer and longer periods of time. So nurse, read a story, chat, then you get up to brush your teeth, then come back for a few minutes. Get up to do the dishes, come back for a few more minutes. Etc. He'll get used to being in bed by himself and falling asleep on his own. Maybe incorporate DH in the process by reading a book as a family and cuddling in bed for reading time. Trade off w/ DH as to who lays down with your DS each time. Lots of different ways to change the bedtime routine so it works for everyone in the house.
If your DS regularly takes a long time to fall asleep, then maybe DH is onto something with the later bedtime. He may not need to fall asleep so early, especially if he still naps (NONE of my kids napped at that age - you're lucky ;-). He may also simply be someone who will always fall asleep later. In my house, all my kids and my DH are all night owls, to my great unhappiness, as I'd like to be asleep by 9. I've found that I can spend 2 hours trying to get kids to sleep at 8 or I can just put everyone to bed at 10 and they're all asleep in a few minutes. Yes, my not-quite-3-year old regularly goes to bed at 10pm. And she gave up her nap before she turned 2. If she's really tired, she'll fall asleep while nursing earlier in the evening, but that happens rarely enough that I get hugely excited by it. I'd rather spend time w/ DH in the evenings with happy, awake, playing kids than waste my evening being frustrated and trying to get them to sleep so we can have "alone" time. DH can wake up early with me if he wants real time alone while the kids are asleep!
DD and DS are 11 & DD is 4 Our car is a bike!
Sharing our with 3, 2 & 4
My daughter is 2.5 years old and takes FOREVER to get to sleep as well. I used to try and leave the room to go to the bathroom and I would tell her to count to 10 and that would work fine, until about age 2 when she refused to allow me to leave the room at all during bedtime.. she would scream or run out after me. I was hoping for that miraculous she falls asleep while waiting quietly for Mommy to come back in. I do think she is too stimulated having me there, but I am not going to just leave her to figure it out while screaming and scared. Today she fell asleep for nap in the car when I was talking to my sister on the phone and I think that helped her fall asleep to not have my full attention. I'm thinking maybe if I brought a book in the bedroom with her (an itty bitty nightlight with it) or folded clothes or something while she was in bed, maybe that would help.
My husband can put her to sleep more quickly but she screams for me every time and that breaks my heart. Maybe if I left the house one or two nights a week that would help. About 6 months ago I did that for a while and he was able to get her to sleep without the screaming. I signed up for a dance class that was on the later side so that I knew I would go since I had already paid money for it...
As for the partner... I think that you have to try and listen to his side of the story. Sometimes they just want to be heard and that goes a long way, even if you don't change what you do. I also feel my husband and I have different parenting styles and of course I think mine is better! However, I have found that once we dig in further to the why we do what we do, I respect his side more and understand where he is coming from. Also, the more bonding time he has with our daughter while I am away, the closer they are and the more sensitive he is to her and to all the parenting issues that come with it... sleep being a big one. Sometimes he teaches me things about parenting and sometimes I find that he learns from what I do. I think we compliment one another well on our good days and we battle on our bad days.
Also, with the husband, you may need to give and take a little. I decided that after 21 months of cosleeping, to try my daughter sleeping in her own bed and in her own room (I would have continued to cosleep prob if I had a diff husband and a king size bed). I set it all up on Valentine's Day as a gift to my husband and my daughter was REALLY into it so it worked. Although she is in her own room, I still sleep half the night there with her. I think it gave a large boost to my marriage. My husband and I do often enjoy evenings in bed together even though it isn't the entire night. Of course now that it takes so long to get her to sleep, he is sometimes asleep before I get in there, but having our own space was actually nice once I tried it.