My almost 3yo is soo hard to get to sleep at night, but we're doing really well with a bedtime routine that we stick to every single night. Still, some nights (most nights) the last 30 mins before he falls asleep, while we are in the bedroom, are really hard - he jumps, kicks, yells, bangs the wall, etc. If I could just be peaceful about this I think we'd all get thru it, but instead I get really really really angry. Like I just SNAP, go into an alternate personality! All day long with 2 kids I am really relaxed, I don't get riled up, I just love love love my boys (almost 3 and 4 mos) and we have wonderful times together. But then in this last 30 mins of the day I am NOT ME. I yell and yell, I spank HARD -- and I do not believe in spanking AT ALL -- I point my finger and threaten, my face becomes a vision of terror (I imagine), my little boy just looks at me with such fear and sadness ... it's horrible. And my precious boy is just sobbing and sobbing, "I want you to be happy, mommy." This lasts for about 5 mins till my vision suddenly clears and I can relax again. I apologize, tell him I made a mistake, hold him in my arms, and we both snuggle and he goes to sleep. No matter what I do - meditate before hand, promise myself I'll relax, try to be as centered as possible .... it all goes out the window when he's behaving like a crazy kid and all his yelling is waking up the baby in our bedroom down the hall and I'm alone at night b/c my husband is working late or traveling for business and suddenly I have two kids awake and I know this means that neither one of them will get to sleep till 10 or 11pm ......
And if you notice, I said that after I apologize and we snuggle, he goes to sleep by around 9pm. So you see, I guess my behavior WORKS and he winds down and goes to sleep. If I am totally calm and peaceful, which I sometimes succeed in being, he keeps jumping on the bed and acting like a crazy boy till he winds down by himself around 10pm.
I know that big part of this is that I am sooo tired of bedtime nightmares. If he doesn't nap he goes to sleep like a lamb at 7pm. But if he naps, it's so dang hard. I work pt and he's in a nursery school that requires naps but I'm working on changing that this summer just so we can have mellow bedtimes! Something else will be a lot more expensive, but maybe it's worth it .....
But for now, while we have this particular arrangement -- what can I do to not snap into a rage for 5-10 minutes each night?? I need specific advice. I really want to change this behavior. It's absolutely horrible and totally wrong, and I feel so sad about it. Thank you.
I worked at a daycare for a while through college, and I remember that we had a napping routine and all kids had to nap. However, there were a few parents who made a big enough stink about it that their kids did not nap. I'd try to fight it until you can move him. I used to have a child who "read" quietly during nap.
Thank you for your wise response!
Do you have experience with your toddlers not staying in bed? If I leave the room (if he's acting wild and crazy) he doesn't mind - he just jumps out of bed and comes out of the room. Or if we have locked it he crawls under the bed, climbs in his drawers, etc. Bribery hasn't helped, ie the sticker chart thing (which I don't like at all but thought I'd try it for this situation). Any other ideas for keeping him in his bed?
We are working on my not laying down with him to sleep. For a week I sat with him in a chair next to his bed. Now I'm in a chair across the room. Ready to leave the room, but he still jumps out of his bed.
Have you read "Raising your Spirited Child"?
My 2 year is like yours...goes to bed great when she hasn't napped, but its a battle if she has (even a 30 minutes catnap can delay bedtime by hours). I need to rock her to sleep and cannot leave before she's fully asleep or alll hell breaks loose (screaming, tantrums, leaving the room with me). She's always been like this, and I've read every sleep book out there and tried all the tricks. The Spirited Child book didn't help much in changing how bedtime goes, but it was invaluable in validating the fact that some kids are like this and it wasn't just me failing to do it "right". As a result, my attitude about it is so much better....this is who she is and what she needs, and this is what I need to do as her mama. I have zero expectations for getting anything done post-bedtime, and so when bedtime goes smoothly (which it does most of the time now), its a bonus. When it doesn't; well, nothing lost. She responds so much better when I'm positive, and I feel like a way better mother.
I agree with the PP that when he fails to settle down that you leave the room. If he's anything like my daughter he won't settle down (and maybe even freak out more), but this will give you time to collect yourself so you don't lose control of yourself and react in a way that you don't want to. With my daughter, I actually find that its only once she completely loses it that I can intervene and get her settled. Its like she needs that release or something.
Anyway, that book really did help me (and it has some tools for identifying triggers to prevent meltdowns). Good luck eliminating the nap...I think that will make an enormous difference.
Mama to F (3/09) and S (3/11); and never forgetting my babe gone too soon (4/10).
I agree with the PP that when he fails to settle down that you leave the room. If he's anything like my daughter he won't settle down (and maybe even freak out more), but this will give you time to collect yourself so you don't lose control of yourself and react in a way that you don't want to.
This. I don't have all that much practical advice for you, but I think the priority here needs to be not "getting him to sleep" but "getting control of yourself" so you can feel more peaceful. I do think it would be better for you to leave the room (even if he loses it) than get to that level of anger, that just isn't a positive thing for you from the sounds of it!! So I guess I'd say that I'd spend a week or two focusing only on your anger, not his sleep. He can and will sleep eventually, even if it's later than you'd like, so your feelings take priority over sleep. You can use white noise or something in your room to hopefully drown him out so he doesn't wake the baby. IDK. It's tough, I couldn't do bedtime alone and I only have 1 kid. Is there a way you can get a break just before bedtime -- whether that means DS watching TV for half an hour or doing a really mess (translation:really fun!) project that will occupy all his attention while you take time to yourself??? This may not be at all realistic for you (TBH, it wouldn't be for me) but figured I'd mention it anyway just in case.
Also, what is his evening schedule like?
I agree with the PP's - if it's between spanking and leaving, definitely leave. What happens if you leave the room for a while before crazy-time hits (and before you start feeling angry)? Is there a time in your routine when things are calmer and you could leave for 15 minutes or so before completing the bedtime process (or even trying to have your DS go to sleep without you during this time)? BTW, I know exactly what you mean about turning into a whole different person when there are sleep issues. I have made some nasty comments to my non-napping girl, even when she was just an innocent little baby. It's VERY hard to control.
I have a difficult sleeper so I have been where you have been, for sure. Could the jumping craziness be part of the routine? Like take him in your room and give him 10 minutes to get the crazies out. I've read that while some kids need to wind down before bed, others need to really release that last bit of energy. He literally may not be able to get to sleep unless he gets it out. Also, cutting out his nap will do wonders if you can swing it.
Mama to my beautiful Ana Carolina (2/07), Isabel Cristina (6/10), and #3 on the way in August 2013!
Ahh, I remember those days. Thankfully, things have calmed down a bit around here in the past few months but I can totally relate to what you're saying.
I agree with other posters: leave the room before you start to lose i.
Also, move bedtime up about an hour.
Are you getting enough sleep yourself? part of the reason I was so angry at my lo for not sleeping was that I was tired myself. Can you nap during the day?
Sounds like you're pretty stressed in other areas of your life and you might be bottling everything up until the lack of sleep and frustration triggers a meltdown. A nice combination of Celexa, therapy and thyroid meds is doing wonders for me right now!
good luck to you.
The only way I got through those bedtimes was releasing my expectations about what time bedtime was. If she napped, I was doomed to 10, even 11pm. But it was a LOT better to lose an hour of sleep than to lose my temper... so I waited until she showed signs of sleepiness before even trying. If I did this, she would usually fall asleep within five minutes.
This will go against most advice. But if you find that moving bedtime up earlier doesn't work, keeping the evening peaceful doesn't work, avoiding TV for that last hour doesn't work, what the heck. Sometimes my DD needed to run like crazy before collapsing. Sometimes Blues Clues worked, even though all the literature will say TV is stimulating, because it got her in a sitting position and those sleepy feelings were allowed to come forth.
I completely understand those angry feelings. They were especially bad when I was pregnant. When my son was about 2.5 I had to let go of naps because he wasn't always taking them, and it was making me incredibly angry, and when he did take one, bedtime wasn't until 10 or 11. And I'd much rather have time with my DH at the end of the day, than an hour or two in the middle of the day.
My suggestions for keeping calm are to have something else to focus on. When my second baby was a newborn/infant, my husband was working out of state, and not home at all. So, I would nurse my then 2 year old, until the baby got fussy, then I would bring the baby into my toddler's bed (he sleeping in our old queen bed, so I guess that would only work if you have the room) and nurse the baby with my back to my toddler. Then once the toddler was asleep, I would bring the baby either to my bed, or to the couch until I went to bed. A HUGE help to me was having the kindle app on my iphone, so I can read a book while laying in bed waiting for whichever kid it is to fall asleep. I truly need distraction because I either get angry, or fall asleep myself. lol. Also, my toddler went though that flailing, kicking, phase when I was pregnant, so I had to turn my back to him in bed, and I've kept that going. So, I'm there with him, but not engaging him in any way. He can do whatever he wants, but he must stay in bed. Occasionally, if he's getting too crazy, I ask him to lay back down.
Anyway, I just wanted to tell you, I've been there, and I know how unbelievably easy it is to get so angry when they won't sleep. You are not alone!
Kara, SAHM to two wonderful boys (7/08 & 5/10)
When we first transitioned to the big girl bed for our 2.5 year old (about 6 months ago), this is what our naps and bedtime were like. And, like you, I would lose it. I was being slapped, kicked, and punched. I never spanked but I put my hands on her and I regret that.
So my husband and I removed ourselves from the situation. This may not work for you though. The upstairs of our house only has three rooms, two bedrooms and a bathroom. So we shut and locked the doors to the extra bedroom and bathroom, and closed the baby gate at the tops of the stairs, so she only had access to her room. We would run through our bedtime routine (pajamas, brushing her teeth, and reading 3 books), and then hugs and kisses, and we left. We left a low light on in her room, and told her that she didn't have to go to sleep yet, that she could read her books and play with some toys until she was ready, but she had to stay in her room. She knew we were just downstairs because she would call to us from the top of the stairs and we would go up there 3 times and then tell her that was it. If she was ever distraught, we never left her alone, but if she was being defiant and silly, we put her back in her bed, told her we loved her, and left again.
At first, once she stopped coming out of her room, she would keep reading and playing with her toys and sometimes would find her asleep on the floor in the middle of her room or in the hallway. But over time, it got easier, and she stopped coming out of her room (sometimes she still comes out once, but it's usually because she wants extra hugs) and doesn't usually get out of the bed. She still reads her books sometimes before going to sleep though and it's hilarious listening to her read to herself over the monitor.
Two nights ago we put her to bed and our last words went like this:
Her: Goodnight Daddy and Mommy
Me: Goodnight, baby girl, we love you
Her: I love you too
And then she went to sleep.
My DD (2.5) is like this too, and it use to make me really angry and frustrated as well. I second pushing bedtime later if he has napped. For us it is 9 or 9:30 in the summer since it is so light out. Also, DD is very active and i have found it is helpful to get her outside and running around in the late afternoon, early evening to wear off some of that energy. The last thing that has worked well for us is introducing a chapter book into our bedtime routine. We usually read 1-3 short picture books, then she lies in bed and listens while we read 1-3 chapters from a chapter book to her. This helps us all mellow out a bit. My sister has had a lot of success using audio books at bedtime for her two kids, maybe this would work for him.
One last suggestion is doing the usual bedtime routine, bath, brushing teeth, pajamas, whatever else, and then giving him 10-20 minutes to play quietly before stories and sleep.
Also, my DH always brings his ipod in to bedtime with him, and after stories he just puts in his headphones and waits for her to fall asleep. This might work well accompanied by an audio book for him.
Good luck, I know how frustrating things can get at the end of the day, and when there is the possibility of him waking a sleeping baby and having to do that bedtime all over again too (maybe you could install a loud fan in the babies room to drown out any noise.)
What about just telling your child that he may read a book/quietly play with a toy/etc in bed and then just leave? Some kids take longer to fall asleep and don't necessarily need to be accompanied into dreamland. Do your usual routine, tuck him in and then be on your way. Of course it might not work immediately, just repeat ad nauseum that you need him to stay in in his bed in his room after X o'clock and that he can come wake you up when the sun comes up. Otherwise you're fighting a battle you can't win. He'll sleep when he's ready, not when you want him, too.
Me 41, single mom to dd 4/2001 and ds 7/17/2010
I was getting really frustrated at one point, and my ipod was a good distraction. She tends to fall asleep faster than my older dd. My older dd now falls asleep sooo much faster on her own, and we definitely realized that our presence was causing more problems than anything else. It's just a process of trial and error and convincing your child that they can do it alone. My old dd is now almost impossible to wake up. Hard to believe because I remember our No Cry Sleep Solution log from when she was about 9 or 10 months old, and she was up 11 times in one night.