My newly weaned 3.5 year old daughter is having a horrible time settling to sleep. We were only nursing to sleep for a while now and for the week or so before we weaned completely, not even nursing was a sure thing to get her to fall asleep at night. She is pretty much done with napping and usually if she does nap, she won't fall asleep until REALLY late. In the past, we have done other things to get her to sleep, but nothing was as habitual and successful as nursing. I have spent days rocking her to sleep, walking her in the stroller to sleep, and driving her to sleep (and walking her on my shoulder when she was younger). There are times when she will fall asleep snuggling "with the nipple" (this is part of how we weaned, she came up with snuggling with the bare breast without nursing), but it takes a LONG time (I'm talking an hour and a half). Last night it took me an hour to get her to sleep after lights out and 45 minutes of the time she spent thrashing around, playing, chatting, etc. Tonight, I spent almost an hour and a half and finally got her to rock with me in the rocking chair. She does not always take to rocking, driving, or the stroller and I want her to learn how to fall asleep in her bed, right? I don't mind laying with her, but I would much rather 20 or 30 minutes than 1 or 2 hours of it. I have suggested she fall asleep on her own in bed, but usually she will come and get me after being alone in her room for 5 minutes. She does have her own bed (since about age 2), but I normally sleep with her for part of the night once she has a night waking. I am not going to "lock" her in her room or anything, that is out of the question.
Our bedtime routine has been cut a little short lately as she doesn't always want to read before we snuggle in the bed because she is so tired from not napping... perhaps that doesn't help. She sometimes thrives on routine and sometimes fights all routine, so I don't know if that is the answer. Maybe other stories of how you made it through difficulty with bedtime?
I used to spend fifteen minutes of cuddle time with my son, read him a short story, and then put on another story for him to listen to as he fell asleep. That became his habit and it worked out pretty well. :)