I don't know if I need advice or encouragement or what, but I'm losing it here. My son is almost 3. He has never been easy to get to sleep. When he was a baby, the acrobatics it took (walking swaying dancing swirling etc.) were so strenuous that my husband and I had to trade off. Eventually, I was able to just get him to sleep by rocking and nursing him, but once he hit 2 years the toll it took on my back to gently place a sleeping toddler into a deep crib was too much and we got him a twin bed. Then I would lay and nurse him to sleep, which usually took 45 min to an hour, but at least I was comfortable, albeit bored. Dental issues persuaded me to stop nursing him to sleep, which actually resulted in him falling asleep faster at first, but now we are back to 45-60+ minutes of me laying with him (this time does not count bath, nursing with stories, or tooth-brushing which all happen each night, too).
It is now 9:44 and he is crying hysterically with my husband. I nearly lost my mind with frustration, because during the 45 minutes or so I was in there wih him, he flopped around, squirmed, fidgeted, poked at me, whined, etc for almost the entire time. I think he is overtired. I think this is often our problem. My husband gets home from work at an awkward hour - too early to comfortably have dinner without him and too late for a reasonable bedtime. I think bedding him down 8:30-8:45 is too late. Is this our only problem? If I move it earlier, should I do so gradually? Will I ever be able to say good night and walk out of the room?
I am very frustrated that our entire nighttime routine takes 2+ hours. I am literally banging my head against the wall. I am frustrated that I can't talk to most of my mommy friends about it because they did CIO and I fear that they will infer that this is what I get for not sleep training.
How much sleep is your son getting over all? Does he sleep late in the mornings? Still nap?
Thank you so much for the suggestion. I think that the idea of it possibly being due to his maturity and being ready for the next stage was floating around in my head but didn't crystallize until you said it. Tonight, we tried getting him to bed earlier and I did a combo: I laid down with him as usual, but when he got fidgety (almost immediately) I said, "it seems like I am distracting you from going to sleep so I am going to leave. If you stay in your bed, I'll come check on you in five minutes. He cried the entire time, I returned after 5 minutes, and did the whole thing all over again. This time when I returned, he was able to stay calm and fell asleep quickly. The whole thing took less than an hour - a vast improvement over the previous night. I hate to leave him in a room crying alone for any length of time, but I think this is necessary to preserve my sanity.
I think all the crying indicates he isn't quite ready for being on his own, but I think we should work up to that. If nothing else, this system helped me keep from getting so flipping angry! It is a success for just that!
Thanks again for your helpful post.
Good to hear things were a little less stressful! If you find he's crying for the whole five minutes, you might want to start much smaller - like, 30 seconds, even - so that he gets the point that you are indeed going to come right back, and that it will all be okay. When I started this with DD, she already was completely ignoring me and going to sleep on her own with me in the room, so she was in a bit of a different place with it than your son.
Another trick is to say 5 minutes, but listen to the monitor and play it by ear. I try to go back in for the "5 minute" check right before I sense she's going to start calling for me, because my mantra to her is "You don't have to call me. If you wait, I promise I will come." So sometimes it's just a few minutes, sometimes it's way more than 5, sometimes she just falls asleep and I never have to go in at all. They can't tell time, anyway, so it's not like he'll know that you're coming in early/late!
Remember, a nearly-three-year-old crying is different than an infant. A few minutes of crying isn't going to hurt them or cause them to "un-attach" from you.
With my hard-to-get-so-sleep three year old, I warn her I'll leave the room if she doesn't quiet down/stop fidgeting/lay down, and then I follow through. I'll stay away for a few minutes, and then we try again. On the very, very hard nights I'll... have a small alcoholic drink to mellow out. It happens quite rarely, 1-2 times a month, but it helps me keep my cool and in turn helps the kids settle down.
SAHM to DS BuggaBoo 12/07, and DD Doozer 03/10. Sharing life with The Hubby since 01/05.
The last couple nights I've just fallen asleep in there, which doesn't do much for my time to myself in the evenings, but gets him to go to sleep without much effort from me!
I think I need to keep trying versions of leaving when he fidgets too much and trying different amounts of time for the return. I'm not sure I am comfortable with the amount of crying he did that first night. I am trying to walk a line: on the one hand, I don't want him thinking he can get anything by crying. On the other, I don't want to torture him or make falling asleep alone more scary. *sigh*
I absolutely hate having to wake him up from a nice cozy nap but I really believe it's sometimes the only way to have a sane bedtime with a three year old. I know my friends whose kids have up their nap do not have these same bed time struggles....
Good luck! You are not alone!
I think there's also a difference between a kid just crying and crying and crying, and a kid fussing themselves to sleep for a few minutes. We wore/carried our daughter to sleep up until about 14 months, and at that point decided something had to give (or our backs were going to) and had a few days of transitioning to putting her down awake and sitting with her and soothing her. She didn't like the transition but after a few days she got it. It turns out she doesn't even like us sitting with her after she is in bed and at this point she has enough words to tell us to leave. Now she is 2 and our bedtime routine is easy. Change clothes, brush teeth, she gets into bed and curls up, we kiss her goodnight and leave. Some nights she might cry for 30 seconds or a minute at bedtime now but it is more of a fussy getting-settled-in cry. If your son was crying for 5 minutes straight it could be more than that, but I think a little bit of crying is normal if the kid isn't already passed out when you lay them down.
No shame! I pour a glass of wine for myself when I'm going to put my kid to bed about three times a week! I usually have an evening glass of something, so it's like, "Ok, it's bedtime, I'm going in. I'll just get my drink first."
It makes it feel like it's a bedtime party instead of a chore. Lol.
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