Two kids and one parent at bedtime - Mothering Forums

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Old 09-12-2010, 01:31 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Or rather, how do I get two kids to sleep when there's only one of me?

Dh really tries to be home for bedtime but the nature of his job requires him to work late and I hate being dependant on him to help with bedtime. So my goal this fall is to figure out some way to get both kids to bed by myself.

(This may seem like a silly problem and I know there are many many mamas doing it all on their own - I just don't know what I'm doing so please help me!)

Ds1 will be 4 in November. He is extremely high needs, spirited, possible SPD......VERY hard to calm down at night. He would never sleep if he didn't have to (he went 40 hours on 7 hours sleep after our last trip abroad) but when he is sleep deprived, everyone suffers. Ds2 is 15 months. He is pretty laidback and will normally go to sleep pretty easily.

On average, bedtime is between 6:30-7:30pm. Our current routine is: Ds1 reads one long story with one of us (most of the time with me since he just wants to play with dh) and then lights out and we lie in bed until he falls asleep. The past week it's been about 45 total time including brushing teeth and jammies. This is a HUGE improvement over the hours it used to take us to get him to settle down and sleep.

Ds2 just needs his paci and a blankie and sometimes a quick nurse and then we rock him to sleep. (Dh generally does this while I take care of ds1.) This normally takes anywhere from 15 min to an hour (he'll go down quicker for dh than he will for me).

So how do I transition this into something that I can do by myself? I can't really leave ds2 alone to put ds1 down but ds1 won't give me enough quiet time to get ds2 to sleep. Plus, ds1 is normally ready for bed before ds2. I've tried putting a DVD on for ds1 while I rocked ds2 but I don't really like all that TV time before bed, I don't like ds2 getting into the habit of falling asleep with the TV on (the rocker is in the TV room) and if ds1 is really hyper, it doesn't always work since he will just bounce off the walls instead of sitting quietly.

I feel like I'm in that riddle with the man and the chicken and the fox and something else and I need to cross the river and can't leave one alone with the other but they all need to get across somehow....
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Old 09-12-2010, 02:18 AM
 
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Can you snuggle\rock\nurse ds2 while you are reading and lying with ds1? I regularly put our two children to bed myself, but they share a room, which makes it much easier.
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Old 09-12-2010, 02:49 AM
 
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Highly spirited kids, in my experience need tons more exercise during the day (before 4pm so it doesn't end up making them more hyper) and a very low key routine from 5pm on. I wouldn't allow any screen time for two hours before bed because of the light effect on sleep patterns. I would get them ready for bed at the same time, (PJ's, teeth, possibly story) then put your youngest down first. During this time I would allow your older to stay in his bed and read/look at books until you come in to say good night. I would be really strict about this!!! This time allows him to get settled and quiet and learn (over time) how to calm himself down. Stick on some relaxing music during this time and dim the lights. When your baby is down, come back in tell him he has five minutes before he needs to go to bed for the night, turn off the lights and lead him through a guided relaxation having him take lots of deep breaths, rub his back, talk softly, then say goodnight.

This is usually the hard part. He might fight nighttime but the only way to get over it is to be consistent and firm. The first time he get's up tell him "It's bedtime, you must stay in your bed." and bring him back into the bedroom. Any time he get's up after that don't say anything just lead him back into his bed and leave the room. After enough repetitions he'll get the point. I think the key is for him to learn is that when it's bedtime he MUST stay in bed, even if he isn't sleepy. I'd wager that if you do this routine consistently for two weeks you'll have a better bedtime that leaves you feeling refreshed not like you need a cocktail.

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Old 09-12-2010, 03:03 AM
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Our DS5 and DS1 both go to bed with no problems. DS5 is allowed to stay up as late as he wants on a non-school night. On a school night, we just send him to bed and he goes.

My suggestion is not to work so hard at it. For example, you can remove the rocking requirement for your one child, which will save you a little time; after a short number of repetitions where you calmly put him to bed without rocking, he will adjust and it will be business as normal.

With your other child, simply send him to bed. If he demands attention etc., simply calmly stick to the plan and send him to bed. In the end it will work, because he will learn that there is no percentage in protesting. (I would personally let him read to himself in bed for a little while if he just can't sleep, but strictly enforce the rule that he needs to be in bed by a certain time.)
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Old 09-12-2010, 05:22 AM
 
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I have put as many as four kids to bed by myself. In my experience, it's mostly about timing and achieving as much parallelism as possible.

Our second DD also has a very, very difficult time going to sleep. She's nearly five and she is still way harder to get to sleep than our two year old or the baby. It much worse when she is overtired.

I've done all of the stuff that's been suggested here.

Nursing the baby while reading to the older kids has worked well for me when I could do it.

I agree with keeping things low key as bedtime approaches too. Our ideal is for our girls get ready for bed right after super and then to play in their room until I'm able to read. This gives our difficult-to-get-to-sleep DD lots of time to start unwinding. While you're transitioning maybe get a bunch of books out of the library that your DS hasn't seen before to look at in bed while your busy with your toddler.

Julie - Mom to Elizabeth (Libby) age 6, Penelope (Penny) age 5, Elliott age 29 months, and Oscar who is 1 year old!
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Old 09-12-2010, 07:18 PM
 
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I wonder if, at almost 4, it would help to have him brainstorm ideas with you. Maybe if you explained that "sometimes daddy can't be here at bedtime, so you (mommy's big boy helper) and I need to figure out how we can do this together," or something like that. Maybe take him shopping to pick out his own special book light that he can use while you get the baby to sleep. Really make him your partner in fixing the problem?
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Old 09-12-2010, 08:14 PM
 
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I have 4.5 year old ds and 17 month old ds. 5 days out of the week it's just me putting them both to sleep.

When ds2 was younger I'd nurse him as I read stories to ds1, ds2 would fall asleep, I'd transfer him into my king as I turned out the light for ds1. I'd come back into ds1's room and have a snuggle and wait for him to fall asleep. Once ds2 turned 8 months or so, he would stop falling asleep while I was reading so I had a talk with ds1 and told him I could no longer lay beside him and wait for him to fall asleep. He was hesitant but I assured him that I was right next door and I'd still come in and have a snuggle once his brother was asleep and once I went into the living room, I'd have his monitor on so he could call me if he needed. At first I'd get 8-10 calls a night...'I heard something...I need water...I'm cold...etc.' But after 3 weeks or so, he got down to only calling once and usually none.
So in the last 6 months our bedtime is snack, pj's, teeth, stories for ds1, stories for ds2 (ds1 nurses while I read the chapter books), then pee, drink water, da2 and I tuck in ds1, then I nurse ds2 to sleep in my room, then sneak away, wave good night to ds1 on my way to the living room. It's all pretty fast.

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Old 09-12-2010, 08:23 PM
 
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6:30-7:30pm
why so early? I could see 7:30 but 6:30. Do you have to get the kids up very early in the morning?

What we did was put the youngest to bed earlier. My youngest would go to bed at 7pm. They were often asleep by the time the others went to bed at 8.
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Old 09-12-2010, 09:47 PM
 
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I have two very close to your twos ages (ds1 is 3.5 and ds2 13 months), and I manage frequently by myself... I just make ds2 sit on my lap while I read to ds1, or if hes' really active he crawls around in ds1's room and plays relatively quietly while I read. But usually he's happy to sit and listen to stories too...

DS1 goes to bed ~8-8:30pm most nights, occasionally earlier or later (as early as 7:30 and late as 9:30 once in a long while...). Occasionally ds2 is asleep before ds1 goes to bed, but thats few and far between... more often he falls asleepe in my arms while reading to ds1 which works out splendidly, or is still awake for a bit later (typically goes down ~9-9:30...)

ETA: Oh and we quit lying down w/ ds1 over a year ago... we realized at some point that our presence in the same bed/room as him was far more distracting than calming - he'd toss and turn and take twice as long to fall asleep than if we simply gave hugs/kisses, said good night and left him to fall asleep by himself.
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Old 09-12-2010, 11:45 PM
 
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for those of you who say there kids just "go" to bed and to cut out rocking and other stuff, well how? My DD1 is also a needy bedtime kid, she's 4.5 - our routine goes like this:
bath or wash hands/face
potty
jammies
brush hair
brush teeth
story
kissing game
"Bug" spray (bottle of water sprayed around room to keep bugs away)
ladybug flashlight gets turned on and positioned on desk, bathroom light gets turned on and door is left open the appropriate amount
Then lights out and whichever parent is not staying with her leaves
Then the "bedtime parent" and DD play games in bed (I spy, 20 questions, etc), talk for a few more minutes and then I just lay with her until she falls asleep. She'll sometimes let DH get up before she falls asleep, but would highly prefer both of us to stay with her until she falls asleep.

Meanwhile DD2 is 5 months - during bedtime she is either already asleep or with us until lights out and then she is with the opposite parent. If it's me, I'm nursing her down while DH lays with DD1. If it's DH he tries to pacify her for as long as possible, ideally until DD1 falls asleep and I can come put her to bed. But usually, he has to come in to DD1's room and get me at some point because DD2 is hysterical. Then either he'll lay with DD1 until she falls asleep or if she's close enough to falling asleep she'll be ok with me leaving. Generally we start all this at 7 or 7:30 and we're totally done with both kids asleep by 9 or 9:30.

If we tried to leave after reading DD1 a story, she'd be hysterical, absolutely hysterical - crying, screaming, terrified, coming out of her room every 10 seconds, etc. She often complains of being scared if we try to get up and leave before she's asleep. I remember being terrified of the dark when I was a kid, so I don't want to leave her there alone crying herself to sleep. Isn't that just CIO with a 4 year old?

She still talks about how I used to be the only one who laid down with her (I am the preferred parent) and why can't we still do bedtime that way. We started switching off with DH when I got pregnant with DD2 so she would have a long time to get used to him doing bedtime as well. That was over a year ago - this kid doesn't give up easy.

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Old 09-13-2010, 12:53 AM
 
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Re: snoopy
When ds1 was 3.5 or 4 (I don't remember now) I explained to him one night that I just couldn't lay down with him anymore. I told him that I had layed down with him EVERY single night since he was born and I felt done. So I asked him what I could do instead. I told him that I could keep a lot of the same routines that we were used to doing but when it was time to turn out the lights I was going to go in the living room/clean up etc. I told him that if it would help to keep the hall light on we could, or if it would help to keep the door open we could, and also that he could call me when he needed just so he knew I could hear him and that I'd always come.
I was pretty amazed that he was so mature about the whole thing. He seemed to like being a part of deciding and making choices about what routines we could keep and what would help him sleep.

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Old 09-13-2010, 12:57 AM
 
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Honestly... I got fustrated with DS1 at ~18-24 months some time and walked out of the room during naptime... He cried for like 1 minute and then rolled over and went to sleep. I suppose it is kinda 'cio' but really, its more just whining for 1 or 2 minutes tops which he still does about 1 night in 4 or 5.

But its so not worth it to lay with him - if you just say goodnight and deal with whining for 30-60 seconds he's out in 5 minutes. If you try and lay with him he tosses and turns for 30-60 MINUTES!!!
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Old 09-13-2010, 01:06 AM
 
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I will be reading this thread for ideas because I need the same help myself. My situation is very similar to yours, just one year further along. DD1 is 5yo, very high spirited and many issues with sleep. DD2 is 2yo and relatively easy to get to sleep - nurses and rocks w me in rocking chair until asleep.

My best nights are when they will fall asleep in the same room. DD1 has a double bed, so that's where we do it. But some nights we end up in my bed. As long as they are both compliant, we can generally read a book (quick because DD2 won't lie still for long) and then we settle down with one on each side of me - DD2 nursing and DD1 snuggling my back. I tell them both if anyone wiggles or talks they have to go to their own bed. A few follow-thrus on that consequence is sometimes enough to get them to realize that quiet snuggling means better bedtime. Last night we did this and it was blissful! They both asked for me to sing lullabies and I thought I was going to cry, it was so sweet to be lying there, snuggling my two favorite little people, singing songs to them!!

That said, it doesn't always happen that way! After the lullabies, one kid said she was hungry, then the other chimed in and so everything fell apart!! There are a lot of issues of one kid almost asleep and the other reaches out to hold her hand, then everyone's awake again etc etc etc.

So...

Some days we read together, then DD1 lies in her bed listening to a CD. I take DD2 to her room, rock and nurse her in the dark. Then if she is taking a while to fall asleep I will interrupt the rocking (not the best scenario) to go check on DD1. If I wait too long then DD1 will come into her sister's room and then everything's disrupted. But if I check on her in regular intervals generally she stays in bed and the interruption for DD2 is worth it (because she, in the end, is the easier child to get to sleep.)
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Old 09-13-2010, 01:44 AM
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My DS is also very high needs and won't settle at night. He's 3.5 and my DD is 18mo. I do the bedtime alone every night because it seems like any body contact really revvs DS up, so no one can lay down with him in his bed, but he also needs someone close by because he gets nervous in the dark.

Right now our routine is very rigid. I don't like rigidity as a rule, but it's workign really well. We moved bedtime out to 8pm because he really goes to bed much easier if we don't just fight it at 7pm instead. We do jammies, teeth, two books (me and both kids), then it's (mostly) lights out. I start up some piano music when we start reading and leave that on while they're going to sleep.

Then DS lies down on his special pillow on the couch and I rock DD in the chair while she nurses to sleep. I tried a little reverse psychology on DS once that worked amazingly well - "You don't have to go to sleep, but it would be such a big help for me if you would look at a book quietly while I put DD to sleep. Then we can snuggle." He never makes it to the snuggling part.

If he talks, asks questions, whatever, I tell him I need it quiet and we can talk after DD is asleep. He's gotten really good at it after a few weeks of this same exact routine. We can't vary one iota or he's fighting like crazy.

Also, some melatonin has really really helped us. When we first started up the routine, it helped him get over the hump so that he could get the idea in his head that routine = sleep instead of routine = time to go nuts and drive mama crazy.
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Old 09-13-2010, 02:52 AM
 
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two kids & two boobs.

my dh works late too and i struggle with bedtime and doing it the right way. we just end up playing until someone crashes.

mama to one '07 and one '09
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Old 09-13-2010, 02:54 AM
 
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My DS is also very high needs and won't settle at night. He's 3.5 and my DD is 18mo. I do the bedtime alone every night because it seems like any body contact really revvs DS up, so no one can lay down with him in his bed, but he also needs someone close by because he gets nervous in the dark.

Right now our routine is very rigid. I don't like rigidity as a rule, but it's workign really well. We moved bedtime out to 8pm because he really goes to bed much easier if we don't just fight it at 7pm instead. We do jammies, teeth, two books (me and both kids), then it's (mostly) lights out. I start up some piano music when we start reading and leave that on while they're going to sleep.

Then DS lies down on his special pillow on the couch and I rock DD in the chair while she nurses to sleep. I tried a little reverse psychology on DS once that worked amazingly well - "You don't have to go to sleep, but it would be such a big help for me if you would look at a book quietly while I put DD to sleep. Then we can snuggle." He never makes it to the snuggling part.

If he talks, asks questions, whatever, I tell him I need it quiet and we can talk after DD is asleep. He's gotten really good at it after a few weeks of this same exact routine. We can't vary one iota or he's fighting like crazy.

Also, some melatonin has really really helped us. When we first started up the routine, it helped him get over the hump so that he could get the idea in his head that routine = sleep instead of routine = time to go nuts and drive mama crazy.
i kind of do something similar, if i cant nurse both at once, i will tell dd that she can snuggle me until ds falls asleep then i will nurse her to sleep. a lot of the time she will just roll over and fall asleep.

mama to one '07 and one '09
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Old 09-13-2010, 07:34 AM
 
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DS1 used to go to bed at 7.30pm and DS2 would go to bed at 6.30pm. I'd put on a DVD for DS1 while I put DS2 to sleep. Now that DS1 has started school he's been going to bed at 6.30pm too. We co-sleep so we all hop in bed together, I give DS2 a bottle and lie with him while he goes to sleep and usually DS1 will be asleep before he is. If he's not, I usually go snuggle with him for five minutes then get up.

DS2 falls asleep quite quickly but if he starts taking longer to go off I will probably start getting up and leaving them both to fall asleep by themselves. I did the 'back in five minutes' thing with DS1. I'd basically get up, come back in five minutes, lie there for five minutes, rinse and repeat and slowly the 'five minutes' became longer and longer.

It's complicated.
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Old 09-13-2010, 08:23 AM
 
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I put 3 kids to bed by myself every weeknight. Granted, they are a little older, but the youngest needs me to lay down with her until she's asleep as well. I actually put the two oldest to bed first (they share a room with bunk beds) and DD2 just hangs out with us while I do their bedtime routine. At 6 and 8, they are fine with me leaving the room while they're awake, as long as I promise to check on them afte DD2 is asleep (they are always OUT by then ). Can your little one just hang out or nurse while you put your older one to sleep?

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Old 09-13-2010, 09:39 AM
 
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DS (just turned 2) still needs me to lie down with him, and DD (3 1/2) often does, too. What's worked for me is to get them both ready for bed at the same time, then put DD in her room with a book, sticker book, or audio book on CD, and strict instructions to stay in bed unless it's an emergency. Then I put DS to sleep in my room.

Sometimes DD will fall asleep on her own before I get there, especially with the audio book, but usually I read her a story an rub her back until she falls asleep.

If they're both super-tired I'll put them to sleep in the same bed with me lying in the middle. They get a short story, then lights out and back rubs until they fall asleep.

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Old 09-13-2010, 01:00 PM
 
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DH puts both our kids to bed every night by himself. He has DS (5) go lay in his bed with a book and a flashlight while he puts DD (2) to bed, then he goes in and reads to DS. Granted, it only takes about 15 minutes to put DD to bed -- DS would never be able to lay there waiting for an hour.

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Old 09-13-2010, 08:08 PM
 
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Some options:

Instead of a video let ds#1 listen to a book on tape while you put ds#2 down. Then reward him by reading to him before bed. Its a bonus book!

Do jammies and tooth brushing at the same time.

Let ds #1 take a bath while you put #2 down. Finish up bath, teeth and jammies then start bedtime routine. You can also read his story while he is in the tub if this doesn't tile him up. He might like that or it may be too much trouble.

Once you have something that works without your dh stick with it even if he isn't there.

Get them both ready and nurse baby while you are sitting next to your four year old. This will only work if you do not have to fight him to lay down but can just be there next to him. once he is asleep move baby to his bed and carry on with your night.

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Old 09-13-2010, 10:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the ideas. You are all giving me courage! I'm beginning to think that I might be able to do this!

Ds1 will not just stay quietly in his room. If I don't help him calm down, he gets more and more excited and keyed up and it ends up taking foreeeever to calm him back down again. If I don't stay right there in the room and sit in front of the door (as he's screaming his bloodcurdling scream in my ear), he will not stay in the room. Yes, we have issues. I've actually seen a big improvement in his ability to calm himself down recently but we still have a long way to go.

Bedtime is early because they both need about 12 hours of sleep at night and they both get up between 6:30/7am. I would LOVE to sleep in a little later but they both are like little alarm clocks in the morning. (At least they're on the same schedule!) By 6pm, ds1 is already bouncing off the walls. The later I wait, the more hyper he gets and it ends up taking hours and lots of screaming to get him to sleep.

I like the idea of a book on tape. He loves his French books on tape but I never tried them at bedtime. Maybe get a new special one just for bedtime. I wonder if he'd stay in his room for that.
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Old 09-14-2010, 12:42 AM
 
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also check the library. Ours has tons of books on tape.

Don't feel bad about the early bed time. That sounds perfect. I highly recommend the book The Seven O'clock Bedtime. It sings the virtues (and scientific studies) behind kids getting enough sleep and how to make it happen. Actually besides helping you feel very confident in your bedtime it might give you some ideas to make bedtime run more smoothly. She starts bedtime routines the minute she picks the kids up for school. Everything from when we eat, to our activities and such effect our kids ability to sleep. She is fairly structured but also is realistic about if you want them to be restful by this time you have to get a bunch of exercise by this time and finish eating by this time and winding down for sleep by this time. She is not at all about sleep training or anything. So don't worry.

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Old 09-14-2010, 12:47 PM
 
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Originally Posted by lilyka View Post
also check the library. Ours has tons of books on tape.

Don't feel bad about the early bed time. That sounds perfect. I highly recommend the book The Seven O'clock Bedtime. It sings the virtues (and scientific studies) behind kids getting enough sleep and how to make it happen. Actually besides helping you feel very confident in your bedtime it might give you some ideas to make bedtime run more smoothly. She starts bedtime routines the minute she picks the kids up for school. Everything from when we eat, to our activities and such effect our kids ability to sleep. She is fairly structured but also is realistic about if you want them to be restful by this time you have to get a bunch of exercise by this time and finish eating by this time and winding down for sleep by this time. She is not at all about sleep training or anything. So don't worry.

hmmmm, I am going to get this book, thanks!! Since DS 3.5 started preschool and needs to get up at 8am and needs 12-13 hours of sleep, I have noticed that since the moment I pick him up from preschool at 1:30, my whole focus is how to get him asleep by 8 pm, and we are not doing so well on that front. Lucky if he is asleep by 9-9:30 sigh.
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Old 09-14-2010, 01:33 PM
 
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If I recall correctly she is big into routine (things like birthday parties and after school activities are strictly limited because they 1) interfere with routine and 2) because of the early bedtime family time is often limited so on weekends and stuff she chooses to make it family time). Her basic after school routine was feed them a light snack the minute they get in the car. As soon as they get home time for running and playing. then homework while she preps dinner. dinner is served by 5 or 5:30. then bed time routines start and then kids are in bed by 7:00PM

Its a good book. It helped me see sleep as a very important part of my kids health. it also helped me see that some kids just need help with sleep. but like I said, she doesn't even touch on sleep training. He focus is on school age kids (and kids who for other reasons much get up early in the morning.) She also makes it clear that there is nothing magic about 7:00PM but that is just what time her kids have to get to bed in order to get enough sleep to get up for school. We did not have to get up that early so we did not go to bed that early.

The truest answer to violence is love. The truest answer to death is life. The only prevention for violence is for the heart to have no violence within it.  We cannot prevent evil through any system devised by mankind. But we can grapple with evil and defeat it, but only with love—real love.

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Old 09-14-2010, 03:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm going to have to check out that book too. I feel like I am constantly monitoring what we do and how it will affect ds1's sleep. It's exhausting. We've had sleep problems with ds1 since he was born and I know my friends and family think I'm way too uptight about his sleep (and since ds2 has come into the picture, I can see why as he's soooo much easier to deal with). But we simply can't do a lot of evening activities because he is miserable and grumpy for days afterward.

So yeah, this book sounds right up my alley!
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Old 09-14-2010, 05:14 PM
 
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When my youngest was a baby she was on a strict sleep schedule (because it made our life blissful when she got enough sleep) and we got a lot of flack about missing activities and parties and stuff but we just did not do ANYTHING between the hours of noon and three. Didn't pick up the phone, answer the door, go to homeschool meetings. I don't care if Ghandi was knocking on my door I would tell him it would have to wait. And now I am that way with evening activities. And my kids are not small. They are between the ages of 7 and 14. the only thing we stay up late for is church. Right now after school activities are banned. we are looking into after school tae kwon do but it has to be over before seven and we have to be able to all take the same class at the same time as a family. No apologies. Our priorities are family time and bed time.

The truest answer to violence is love. The truest answer to death is life. The only prevention for violence is for the heart to have no violence within it.  We cannot prevent evil through any system devised by mankind. But we can grapple with evil and defeat it, but only with love—real love.

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