I've got to rethink our bedtime routine-
I have two boys, ages 5 and 2 1/2. 4 nights a week my husband is at work so I do the bedtime routine by myself. We've always had a very consistent routine of: dinner between 5:30 and 6:00, bath at 6:30, in pajamas and teeth brushing at 7:00. If all that goes smoothly we have plenty of time for each of them to hear a story, then after lights are out I lay down with them to sing a couple of songs before they go to sleep, which is usually around 8:00. Most nights this all goes pretty well, as long as they are both fairly cooperative.
Here's the problem. My 5 yr old DAWDLES. I've tried different approaches to dealing with it; for instance, ignoring it completely and leaving him to do things in his own time (which can lead to him taking FOREVER to get dressed, brush his teeth, etc.), gently prodding him along, using a kitchen timer, being playful and having "contests" to see how fast he can get dressed, and then the worst option, losing it and yelling at him. Tonight my 2 1/2 yr old was quite cooperative about getting in his pj's and brushing his teeth (which is not always the case!); when I came back to their bedroom my 5 yr old was still laying on his bed completely naked and just hanging out. For some reason this really triggers something in me, and I just have no patience for it! I did the gentle prodding to get him to put his bottoms and top on; I think I finally had to help him get his top on and he was acting all limp like a rag doll and saying how tired he was. Then I had to go get some water for ds2 in the kitchen and when I came back, ds1 was lying on his bed again, with his head hanging down toward the floor. When I told him it was time to go to the bathroom and brush his teeth, he claimed that he couldn't get off his bed and could I please pick him up? At this point I'm ready to snap and I began to yell, telling him that for a 5 year old kid to say that he can't get himself up off of a toddler bed (yes, he's still using one; we're getting bunk beds in a month or so) is RIDICULOUS, and I demanded that he get himself up off the bed right away or there wouldn't be time for his story. He then finally gets up and limply slumps to the bathroom and I'm practically having to hold him up while he goes to brush his teeth. The worst part is, I know deep down that the kid probably was really tired, but I have these expectations of him that are possibly unrealistic. I just get so sick of having to tell him many times to get dressed, brush his teeth, when he's old enough and capable of doing these things quickly.
So as I'm typing this I realize that I'm being completely unrealistic and harsh and I feel just terrible. I did have him sit on my lap after all of this was done and let him know that I always love him, even if his actions have made me angry. Then as we read stories and I tucked them in, I feel wracked with guilt for having ended the day this way. I normally can control my temper better than this, but inevitably there are nights like this one where I'm out of patience and my nerves are frayed by bedtime.
If anyone out there has any suggestions for how to avoid this ugly scenario, I'd love to hear them!
I don't exactly have a suggestion, but I do have something to think about. The reason this kind of thing is a trigger for you might be because you were never allowed to "get away with such behavior" as a child. I have noticed that is often the reason things are triggers for us.
My dd just turned five and she frequently turns to a noodle at bedtime too. I share your frustration. But I do know it's not an unrealistic expectation for your ds to get dressed on his own at this age. I have twin boys, now 8 1/2 who dressed themselves without my help at age 3 1/2. It wasn't a stretch for them, but I think there's a huge range of normal. So, I think the expectation is fine. One of my twins was a dawdler, too... but if I insisted, he'd get it done lickety-split. I don't have a younger one like you, but when I can, I just help my dd get dressed in her pjs, when she says she's too tired. I have time, so what the heck. But when I don't, I'm firm and tell her she has 5 minutes to finish pjs and teeth, or there's no time for a story. That's the nuclear weapon of punishments, so she instantly complies. Just a suggestion, but if you run out of time for what he really likes, maybe he'd start getting ready.
Oh, also.. my boys loved to be naked, so I completely know what you mean about naked boys on a bed. It's just boys, I think. :)
Wow, he sounds just like my dd! It does drive me a little batty, too. I tell her that we have x number of minutes to get jammies, brush teeth, and do a story, so if she's uncooperative, she's essentially wasting her own story time. I hate to skip out on reading to her, but this has been a good motivation for her.
If my child is lying in bed, naked, and refusing to get dressed, etc., I would say, "Wow, I can see that you're really tired. Maybe we need to make bedtime earlier tomorrow night," and I'd cover him or her up with a warm blanket and brush teeth in bed with no toothpaste. Then lights out. My guess is that most kids, after lights out, would either get out of bed and decide to put on jammies, or just go to sleep because they are, in truth, exhausted.
I don't agree. I think expecting a child that age to go to bed without too much drama. Not that nights you experienced aren't to be expected on occasion. But I absolutely expect my 4.5 year old to go to bed every night in a cooperative and reasonable fashion :)
Maybe there's a good reason to not be allowed to get away with it! Not that I'm advocating a crazy reaction here but I really don't think the OP is asking for too much.
To the OP - We've gone through this before and have had to up our expectations. Or I guess, reassure ourselves that we weren't asking for too much and (more importantly) what we were asking for was in everyone's best interest. That my kids maximize the amount of sleep they can get. That I maximize the amount of down time I get. And that we save our drama for things that really warrant it. Not such a regular thing as bedtime.
Then, consequences. Too much dawdling and no time for books. If that's not effective then maybe tomorrow night's bedtime needs to start earlier. Maybe if he's not being cooperative then I'm not going to feel compelled to take him to ____ tomorrow in case he's not cooperative there, either. Whatever you think might help motivate.
I almost never have to talk about consequences anymore. Good habits are developed just like bad ones sometimes I think. IT sounds like you guys are in a bad habit zone. I think we've all been there!
DS (6.06), DD (10.08), DD (05.11).
I know all too well how hard the bedtime routine can be by yourself. I do it by myself with 3 kids.
The short of it is this; You have to set an expectation that once the nice bedtime routine is over, you are busy/ finished/ resting (what ever you want to say).
They need to know you are serious or it will never end.
After about the 3rd question or thing they want from me, I say this is the LAST time Mommy is talking. I have had to let them know I was angry or that I was getting angry.
I give them one last kiss and hug and say I love them and Good night.
It gets easier, but the end of the day is still hard no matter what. We moms get so tired of being patient all day.
Im all too sympathetic with this ladies statement. I,m guessing that its not an every day shouting match and can only share my experience. I have a very lively 5 year old boy who is usually very good at bedtime and will go up and have a story , but on occassions i have been known to "bark" , which leaves me in tatters and him upset. We have almost guaranteedly picked this up from our parents and as long as the barking isnt daily and its explained as to why we do it, then its going to happen. We obviously dont want to crush our children and we recognise when they are in genuine need, however some days they will push for more. Ive noticed that if ive taken my son out, indulged him with all the good stuff , parks museums , cinema etc then at bed time he wants more because he doesnt want the day to end and will simply re-appear at 9pm, 10pm, the latest being 1130pm shattered....then a swift bark is sometimes my way....
I have an almost 5 year old dd. I think it is completely reasonable for her to sit still while I brush her hair, help her put on her pajamas, and help her brush her teeth. She is definitely capable of accomplishing these tasks on her own, however seems to prefer help sometimes. In the mornings we are in less of a hurry usually so I then just hand her the clothes and walk away and in her own time she gets dressed.
What makes it go smoother for us is that I put their pajamas right outside the bathroom door along with their toothbrush already having toothpaste on it, hairbrush etc. We all sit there in the hallway for 5 minutes and I help them accomplish the tasks of dressing and brushing. Then we can move from that spot into bedrooms for our book. I think I would definitely have more dawdling if each task was completed in a different room. Now if she is not being cooperative while I am attempting to help her with these tasks or if she is not listening than I might feel the need to raise my voice. Of course I also prefer not to do so, but I certainly do not think my expectation are too high...nor are yours for your son:)
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