Bed time . . . the longest process around. - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 14 Old 11-14-2011, 03:47 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I need ideas for bedtime.  

 

Our almost 3yr old daughter has a really hard time falling asleep.  We nurse (and sometimes she falls asleep while nursing) and then the crying begins.  She insists that she isn't sleepy, it's not sleepy time, etc. etc.  She cries, wants which ever parent isn't currently with her, etc. etc.

 

There isn't anything else exciting going on in the house, so I don't think she feels like she is missing something.

 

If I try to sing to her, she yells "Don't Sing That!".   

 

Last night, I finally got her calmed down by telling stories about how her Grandma and Grandpas met, etc.  But she still wouldn't fall asleep.  It was just after 11 when she finally crashed.  

 

So, this is what our house is like at night.

 

BUT - at her school, they go down for nap, and apparently she falls asleep on her own, or with just some gentle stroking of her forehead. (Which, generally, if I try at night, she shouts "Don't Do That")

 

 

So, what am I doing wrong??  Any ideas?

 

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#2 of 14 Old 11-14-2011, 07:55 AM
 
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How long does she nap for?  The first thing I would suspect is daytime sleep schedules before moving on to separation issues.  3yo is kind of an in between age for naps.  Some kids need them, others don't.  Our daughters showed obvious signs of transition at this age-- difficulty getting to sleep if they had napped, and trouble getting through the day if they didn't.  Preschools are required to have naptime, but the kids shouldn't have to go to sleep, just be quiet.  Try to see what would happen if the teacher didn't coax your daughter to sleep at school.  (And, how long do they nap for? Do you know?  Does the teacher expect them to fall asleep?  I would discreetly ask her/him about the routine.)

 

The second suggestion is to be absolutely routine at bedtime, even if that means doing nothing.  You don't need to respond to requests for the other parent, for example.  Just another kiss and a "Good Night" then back to silence again.  Repeat ad nauseum and don't do anything different, even if she fusses.  Don't scold, don't sing if she doesn't want, just cuddle with her and be with her.  (And breathe, mama, breathe!)  Bedtime is still not perfect at our house, either, and my girls are 5 and 7. But it is a far cry from 3 years ago.


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#3 of 14 Old 11-14-2011, 06:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I've asked for the nap to be reduced to 45minutes, from an hour.  And she doesn't have to nap if we don't want her to.  She's at a Montessori school, and in the toddler area at that time they have a nap room and a quiet work room.  We could ask for her to skip the naps.  I've just been hesitant, because she still seems like she needs them.

 

BUT, while talking to her other teacher today, I've learned that nap time at school is not as easy as her one teacher has me believing.  DD frequently fights it, cries, etc.  So if nap time isn't the easy thing at school that I thought it was (which had me thinking that she obviously needed it), then I think we might try eliminating it.  

 

If I don't hold her in bed, she gets up, but if I hold her, she screams and cries that she doesn't want me to hold her.  I end up feeling like I'm fighting the unwinnable battle.  Do I just keep hugging her?  

 

It's 9:50.  We've been working on going to sleep since 8:15.  DH is in with her now.  I'm feeling mean, useless, and like I can't get anything else done, other than working on bedtime.  I'm miserable.

 

Once it's my turn again, I'll try the broken record technique you mentioned.  

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#4 of 14 Old 11-15-2011, 07:54 AM
 
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So much sympathy.  I still feel like I can't escape bedtime!  Like last night, the girls have colds.  My oldest, the most demanding one, is a bear when she has a cold and always has been.  She screeches and screams when she gets clogged up--a real pain in the family bed.  So, last night, I just put on my PJs, brushed my teeth and went to bed.  Damn! We just got the next season of Grey's Anatomy from the library, but I knew that if I got my expectations up to watch it, not only would I be interrupted by her waking up, but I would feel spiteful to boot.  Tonight I think I'll get out.

 

I don't cuddle with my girls so much (because there are 2, one on each side, and rivalry is alive and well in our house) but just lie there, hold hands, massage a aching leg, whatever.  They want me to sing.  We've been doing "last words" in the dark room and that has been a sweet time, but I have to watch it or it wakes them up more than makes them sleepy.  It is the only time where we can really chat about whatever.  

 

Sounds like fixing (and nixing) the daytime naps might at least give you a leg up.  It sounds like there are other issues besides naps, but at least that will make her sleepier and easier to coax into sleep.

 

When we did the transition, bedtime began absurdly early-- 5:30 to start storytime, lights out an hour or so later.  We were able to slowly move that start time back to a more reasonable time.  I think for a couple years we started the process at 6:30.  Now we've been starting at 7:00 since Daylight Savings ended, back from 7:30 which we had been doing (but I was emerging too late in the evening to do much of anything but get ready for bed.)

 

Good luck on this.  Realize, she can't make herself go to sleep.  I have gotten grumbly and angry so many times in the last few years I can't even keep track.  And I know it does not help one bit, but sometimes?  There I am getting angry again.  It helps so much to adjust my expectations.  I actually get ready for bed so I can let myself fall asleep sometimes.  Before too long, I am out on the couch, cuddling with dh and getting to the rest of Grey's Anatomy.  


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#5 of 14 Old 11-15-2011, 08:42 AM
 
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I can empathize, as you've just described DS's evening sleep routines from ~18 mos to 45 mos. Only very recently has bedtime become easier.

 

I can't really give any advice that "worked" for us. We just assumed that he needed us to fall asleep. He falls asleep at 10:25 if he has had a nap at daycare (can be up to 2 hours from 1-3pm). He asks for one of us, then the other one, then the first. We usually stop after 1-2 switches. DH puts him to sleep the easiest, as he puts on his Ipod and lies there next to DS while DS flops around and thrashes. DH just ignores him. (I am not as good at ignoring. I don't have an Ipod, and I get hurt when DS thrashes. DH has a LOT more body mass than I do.) The best I can usually do is put on my own pajamas before I read DS his stories, and I lie down in the dark and fall asleep. DS will usually fall asleep after I do.

 

Here is a laundry list of suggestions:

 

  • Epsom salt baths in evening for magnesium.
  • lavender oil in the bath
  • darkened house/rooms. I switched to a low-watt fluroescent bulb for story time around the time that things got much better. (But DH started reading comic books to DS until he fell asleep around that time too, so who knows.)
  • No sugar or refined flour after noon/1pm
  • Start bedtime routine MUCH earlier. This has somewhat worked for us, but it has meant getting home from work earlier and having the meal already prepared so we can heat it up and eat before 6pm.
  • No TV/screentime after 3pm
  • turkey as a bedtime snack, or something with tryptophan (chix, tuna, beef, lamb, fish)
  • make sure she gets a multivitamin in the MORNING which has enough B6 and b12. Most Children's gummie vits don't have B vitamins because the B vits taste strong and are difficult to mask. The Kroger store brand gummie we take DOES have B-6 and B-12. Don't give B vits in the evening, as they can "hype" you up. BUT, if you don't have enough, you won't sleep well.

DS, 10/07. Allergies: peanut, egg, wheat. We've added dairy back in. And taken it back out again. It causes sandpaper skin with itchy patches and thrashing during sleep. Due w/ #2 late April, 2012.

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#6 of 14 Old 11-15-2011, 09:30 AM
 
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catnip and chamomille tea or add in lemon balm for flavor.  We give DD2 Melatonin, since she has anxiety over not being able to go to sleep.  She also likes the tea in place of the Melatonin.  We try to limit the Melatonin to Sunday nights to help calm her down for school the rest of the week we have started giving her the tea and after a book and a little cuddle she's out. 

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#7 of 14 Old 11-15-2011, 07:33 PM
 
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Pretty much with my boys, as they got older I just told them to lie still, close their eyes, and be quiet. If they didn't do that they got a warning that if I they didn't then I would be getting up and leaving the room. If I had to leave I would generally leave for 5 minutes and would then ask if they were ready to lie still etc. I think I only ever had to leave the room a couple of times for it to make a difference.


It's complicated.
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#8 of 14 Old 11-22-2011, 10:13 PM
 
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My almost 3 yr old does not fall asleep easily if we are with her. we do cuddles and story and then leave her with her books and a light on- otherwise she just will not sleep. She falls asleep fine on her own and we go sleep with her when it is our bedtime.

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#9 of 14 Old 11-23-2011, 02:39 AM
 
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We did a few things that made bedtime better. When we were still lying with ds (after he had stopped nursing to sleep) the rule was he had to lie still & quiet. It only took a couple times of me getting up & leaving 'cause he was moving around &/or talking (I would come back after a few minutes) before he learned I was serious. That definitely cut down how long it took for him to fall asleep 'cause he wasn't keeping himself up.

 

Transitioning to him going to sleep on his own was a HUGE sanity saver for us. Most nights he does fall asleep pretty quickly but some nights he's up for hours playing in his room but he knows he needs to stay in his room & keep the noise down. It took awhile to transition. We warned him a week beforehand we would be starting & at first I sat outside his room where he could see me. If he got up I ignored him, unless he actually came out of the room & then I just brought him back to bed. It took about a month before we could do the bedtime routine, kiss him & leave for the livingroom but it was sooooo worth it as the whole thing is less stressful now that we know it's not going to be potentially hours of lying in bed "fighting" with him.


Surviving sleep deprivation one day at a time with dd (Oct '11) & ds (Oct '08).

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#10 of 14 Old 11-29-2011, 06:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Lifeguard, at what age did you start working on going to sleep on his own?

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Originally Posted by lifeguard View Post

We did a few things that made bedtime better. When we were still lying with ds (after he had stopped nursing to sleep) the rule was he had to lie still & quiet. It only took a couple times of me getting up & leaving 'cause he was moving around &/or talking (I would come back after a few minutes) before he learned I was serious. That definitely cut down how long it took for him to fall asleep 'cause he wasn't keeping himself up.

 

Transitioning to him going to sleep on his own was a HUGE sanity saver for us. Most nights he does fall asleep pretty quickly but some nights he's up for hours playing in his room but he knows he needs to stay in his room & keep the noise down. It took awhile to transition. We warned him a week beforehand we would be starting & at first I sat outside his room where he could see me. If he got up I ignored him, unless he actually came out of the room & then I just brought him back to bed. It took about a month before we could do the bedtime routine, kiss him & leave for the livingroom but it was sooooo worth it as the whole thing is less stressful now that we know it's not going to be potentially hours of lying in bed "fighting" with him.



 

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#11 of 14 Old 11-29-2011, 07:36 PM
 
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I stopped nursing him to sleep around 2 years & we would just lie with him. Then at 28 months we started the process of not staying in his room which took about a month to complete (would have been a bit quicker but he got sick in the middle of it for a week).


Surviving sleep deprivation one day at a time with dd (Oct '11) & ds (Oct '08).

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#12 of 14 Old 11-30-2011, 11:01 AM
 
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I feel your pain. My DS is used to being alone in the room after the bedtime routine, but lately he's been afraid of the dark, and then last night he said he was scared. He's driving me INSANE over bedtimes lately, but I'm hoping its a phase that doesn't last long (our bedtimes used to be SO short and easy, with no tears - I have no idea what happened other than a huge move to another state, different visitation schedule with his dad, new daycare that he loves, etc).

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#13 of 14 Old 12-01-2011, 12:08 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Learning_Mum View Post

Pretty much with my boys, as they got older I just told them to lie still, close their eyes, and be quiet. If they didn't do that they got a warning that if I they didn't then I would be getting up and leaving the room. If I had to leave I would generally leave for 5 minutes and would then ask if they were ready to lie still etc. I think I only ever had to leave the room a couple of times for it to make a difference.



Yes, this is what I did.  It helped a lot.  I felt bad threatening my daughter, but she was outta control, I tell ya!  I would tell her that I would sit quietly, on the floor next to the door (ready to make my escape!!! ha ha ha!!!) as long as she was still and quiet.  Those were the rules.  I would say, "if you are not still and quiet, then I will have to leave the room.  I can't stay with you..." and I really only had to actually leave the room a handful of times.  I felt that she had to do her part for trying to fall asleep, and part of it was to lay there and try, hence the "still and quiet" and I think I said "eyes closed" too.  Sometimes you have to lay down the law!!!  Ok, with mine I do, anyhow.  Good luck.  I know how hard it can be.


Mama to a daughter (3/2008) and a son (7/2011)
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#14 of 14 Old 12-01-2011, 05:11 AM
 
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OP - since you posted on my thread (the one I had a talk with my ds about him being safe in our home to go to sleep), I thought I would tell you about last night.

 

We started our bedtime routine with a chat about what was going to happen, "DS, tonight we are going to read 2 stories (he chooses the stories every night, and we have about a thousand different ones...), and then I'm going to give you cuddles and kisses, and tuck you in. Then, after I tuck you in I'll turn on the night light and leave the room. Remember what we talked about last night?"

 

DS: "I'm safe here"

 

Me:  Thats right, this is a safe place to fall asleep and go night night. There are adults here to keep you safe, I would never put you to bed anywhere that wasn't safe, and so there is no reason to be scared. You also have the big dog (insert name) to help keep you safe.

 

DS: Ok.

 

We did the bedtime routine, and literally - not a peep. Not a sound. Just peaceful sleeping after I left the room. It was AMAZING!

 

OP I hope you are finding something that works for you, and I hope your bedtimes get so much easier!

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