Need creative advice on bedtime/naptime strategies for 2.5yo - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 07-10-2013, 02:29 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi mamas,


Our DD is 2.5 yo and up until recently we had this sweet little bedtime and naptime routine that were some of the best parts of the day. After brushing teeth (at night), we'd go upstairs, the three of us, read a few books, she'd turn out the light, hug and kiss daddy, and then I'd lie on her bed and sing a lullaby, then say goodnight and that's that. Very lovely.


Now, we're experiencing quite the opposite and I suspect is a phase, but last night it got to a point where I yelled a little and then left to give myself a break, and then DP left while DD wailed in her room until I finally got myself together and went back and she went to sleep, exhausted.


So that's not what I want AT ALL, and it was painful for me, so I figured I'd get some advice if possible!


The major difference is that, when the inevitable saying goodnight (for either naptime or bedtime) approaches, DD begins to request certain things, new diaper, no diaper (we're in the middle of potty training), water from downstairs (not from her cup by the bed), etc etc. And if I say yes or even if I just go into broken-record mode (it's bedtime, you can have etc etc after nap), she immediately changes her request and asks for something else instead, and it quickly escalates into a tantrum of sorts, involving her crying out her demands. This can go on for a while and my method has usually been to say yes as often as possible, but after a while I feel I have to draw the line because it is naptime, it is bedtime, it's getting late, and she needs her rest. And there comes a point at which I can't really give her what she's asking for, because she is out of rational then I just end up sitting there quietly until she either calms down a bit or decides what she wants. It can take up to an hour. She has been going down for naps or going to bed very tearfully and tired these days, and I am feeling frustrated and tired, too, and not looking forward to these times of the day. And last night I lost my patience and tried to just force a diaper on her and then felt like crap...


I suspect that because her bedtimes have been pushed back so much, she is more tired than usual (this has only been going on for a week or so) and so that makes it even more difficult. I want to try an earlier bedtime tonight but her naps are so late these days -- I guess I could wake her up from her nap, but that usually results in a cranky, tired kid, too.


Anyway, any creative advice for getting through the demands period or avoiding all together? Maybe we need a routine change...some days she just skips naps all together, which is not a huge deal, except I so look forward to those naps for my pregnant self, too...


Thanks all.

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#2 of 6 Old 07-10-2013, 10:02 AM
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OMG! The same thing has been happening with my 27 month old. After our routine and when it's time for "night night" suddenly he wants juice, or another cereal bar, or brush his teeth again. And, he now knows if he says "pee" I will put him on the potty. Boy , can he stretch out the time. I too suspect it's summer days and longer up time and he is a bit more tired and wants to resist going to bed because he is tired.

Humm, the only thing I have been doing differently that is working is going and hanging out in the bedroom a lot earlier. We just read books or he will do a puzzle and we roll around on the bed. I just try to remove him from outside stimulation. I also, turn on tje fan and close the curtains. The last fe nights he has been to sleep by 9:15 instead of 9:50..eek!


Oh and I do wake him from his nap if it goes past 2:15.


Good luck to you mama!!

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#3 of 6 Old 07-18-2013, 12:38 PM - Thread Starter
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HI -- oh my gosh, it's been a week and I'm still struggling -- it feels like forever. Bedtimes have gotten a weeeeee bit better after I realized that she was overtired and needed a few solid nights of going to bed early/on-time. For us that process starts around 7:30 and ends by 9. It includes teeth brushing and book reading and snuggling.


So bedtime at night has actually started to go a bit more smoothly. She seems to need more kisses and hugs and snuggles than ever before, which must be a phase and I can't really know why, but it's fine.


Naptime, however, is still such a struggle. I've found myself having to tell her that if she skips naps, then we won't be able to [insert evening activity here] -- which I hate because of how threatening it sounds, but the reality is that when she doesn't nap, evenings are really hard with her crankiness. But I think a big part of it for me is that I crave the time alone. When we are together, she needs constant interaction. So I'm trying to figure out how to work towards just creating positive associations with being alone in her room OR with doing quiet projects on her own so that we can each have quiet time for a little bit during the day. Maybe this is unrealistic for life with a toddler. What do you think? Maybe I just need to come to terms with the fact that my toddler may be moving towards giving up naps, and find some way to be okay with that. We have another baby coming in October and I know my alone time will be even more scarce then.


And it sounds like your kiddo has some similar strategies as mine as far as delaying the inevitable! Especially using the potty. Many parents I've talked to say this is so I guess it's just good luck all around and I'm grateful for the reminders of passing phases...



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#4 of 6 Old 07-18-2013, 04:03 PM
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I've got a 28 month old DD and I'm 39 weeks tomorrow so I SO feel your pain, mama! I had to make peace with the fact that my girl naps in two places; neither of which is in the house anymore. One is the car, which we use way too often since DH is on vacation and the other is the stroller - which has been impossible for a few weeks now due to the extreme heat and humidity (nice cool Canadian summer my behind!!) and my advanced state of being knocked up again lol. Having alone time simply wasn't an option for a while. On no nap days we start the bedtime routine 30-45 minutes early and she goes to sleep easier and sleeps longer. We found a good activity right before cuddling down for sleep: we talk about our day. Where did we go? Who did we see? What did we do for fun? For us it eliminates the jumping on the bed part; maybe it might help the incessant requests. I wish there was a magic potion for the toddler years lol
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#5 of 6 Old 07-18-2013, 05:01 PM
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A couple of thoughts - 


>>This could be the beginning of a long transition to giving up her nap.  Bedtime has always been a struggle for us, but it was much worse when he was in between needing and not needing to nap.  He doesn't nap about 95% of the time now, and our days where he doesn't nap are actually much better than when he did nap.  He goes to bed earlier (7p) and easier (fifteen minute process instead of an hour+).


>>That kind of behavior - wanting something, getting it, then desperately wanting something else, getting it, then desperately wanting something else - typically means they are looking for a release of frustration.  Something is standing in the way of them being content and having their cup filled, and that could be anything - it could be something specific (sensing the arrival of a new baby) or just the accumulation of little frustrations that occurred during the day.  No matter the cause, she has a lot of feelings that need to be let out before she can transition to sleeping.  It's typical for that behavior to come up at the end of the day when they are sleepy and vulnerable and have amassed a load of unfelt feelings during the day.  It's tempting to call the behavior "stalling" or "manipulative," but they are really just seeking for a way to release their feelings, and since they aren't yet able to say, "Wow this was a big, long day and I can't process everything that happened," they go about it the only way they can.  Seeking a boundary so they can unload and re-center.


In that kind of situation, what they need is a loving limit and a safe, calm presence to unload their feelings onto.  The biggest thing is for you not to get upset or frustrated yourself - just stay calm and ride the wave with her.  I tend to adopt some kind of little mantra that is appropriate for the situation, and repeat it softly (or I stay quiet if my talking is making him more upset) - "We're ready for bed, it's time to sleep" or whatever seems appropriate.  


>>Another thing that should help is deliberately refilling her cup before starting the bedtime routine.  Connect as much as possible, play together, give her 110% of your love and attention so that she goes into the sleep transition with a very full cup.  The increased connection might also cause the same boundary-seeking behavior you're seeing at bedtime - you say, "I'm all yours, let's play!" and she wants you to sit here and do this, oh wait no sit THERE and do THAT, no you're doing it wrong, do THIS, no THAT'S wrong [meltdown].  Same thing applies - calm presence while she gets it all out, then be sure to re-connect afterwards.


Hope something in there resonates.  Best of luck!

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#6 of 6 Old 07-18-2013, 06:54 PM - Thread Starter
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I've just returned from a family evening with friends with two kids, and the third on the way right before I'm due (!) and having spent time with all of us and then reading your replies -- well, to put it in your words, Luckiest, my cup is pretty full right now. Thanks everyone for your thoughts. A lot of them resonated with me pretty strongly. As the day went on today, I did have the realization that perhaps my daughter IS giving up naps, and that realization suddenly made it all seem a little easier to bear.


I can see how she would need a release of frustration, especially on weekdays, which for us tend to be pretty full, especially lately, as is the case with us in summers. So I will take your words to heart and try to slow myself down a bit and just be there for her. All her requests for snuggles and wanting to be carried a lot are probably part of the same need, whatever it is.


Anyway, thanks again. Lots of wisdom here.

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