I'm posting here because most of the info in Family Bed/Nighttime Parenting seems to be geared toward younger kids. Obviously we messed up there because our kids NEVER go to sleep in a reasonable manner. I started putting DD to bed at 7:00. It's 10:00 now, and DH is STILL in there with both DC. (Of course he could be asleep by now, too...)
DD will be 4 on Thursday. DS will be 6 on Jan 17. I'm at my wits' end. I work (more than) FT and will start school FT next week. I'm transitioning into a new career, and the additional courses will take 18 months. In my theoretical plan, I'll put the kids to bed 3 nights a week, and DH will do it 4 nights. I will not have 3 hours to do it, though.
We have tried so many suggestions, and if anything works, it doesn't work for long. I'm really just at the end of my rope. I don't know what to do. We've tried both carrot & stick, and neither seems to work. They have toys in their room, and they play if they're in there alone. I'm tempted to take all of the toys out, but frankly, that would mean putting them somewhere else, which would mean making room for them, etc., etc. Still I'm at the point of thinking that may be the best choice we have.
They share a room and will do so for 1.5 more years. They absolutely cannot go to bed together because they play and talk.
We've tried different bedtimes, and it doesn't matter. There's no difference based on physical activity during the day either. We can go to the Y where they play for an hour and swim for an hour, and they still come home ramped.
TBH, if they would do something quietly in their beds, I wouldn't even care so much, but they don't. They get themselves more wired.
What does your routine look like? I don't know what to do!
Can you put one to bed in another room and then move them once asleep? I have 5 yo twins and when they were sharing a room we had to do that for a little while because they just couldn't control themselves together. They still sort of share a room -- there's a large pocket door between their rooms that mostly stays open -- and we close it when they won't calm down. We have a whole bunch of other things we do to make a routine, but I don't think it's the specifics of it make the bedtime peaceful and I doubt there was much that would have worked other than separating them until they got past 4-ish.
I'm sure you've tried it but the first thing I thought of was engaging them in ideas on how to make bedtime more peaceful or what ever language you want to use. You can tell them your needs and have them give the ideas. At least the 6 yo will buy in more easily. My two are the same ages but in separate rooms. I cannot imagine the high jinx that would happen if they were together.
I think separating them until asleep is a great idea, also removing all the toys, pens, paper. Strip it down to bare bones and they can earn it back one thing at at time.
For reference, our bedtime dance starts after dinner, around 5:30 and they are usually asleep by 7:30. Although their official lights out time is 7:00. We do bath, jammies, teeth, stories (one each), pillow talk and tucking in. It's a long stretch and we are hard line about what we expect after lights out. We also use specific language like, story time, sleep time. Also, we respond the first couple of times they come out of their rooms and then it's the silent return to bed technique. A couple of times, we've found them asleep on the floor at the top of the stairs!
Oh, and they each have cd players and lullaby bedtime music.
We have tried putting one to bed in their room and the other in our room. Or putting DD to sleep first and then DS. That will work for a week or two, but that's it. Then it's back to craziness all the time.
I do like the idea of a CD player. I wonder if we let them listen to soothing storytelling or music if that would help. We've done white noise and also meditation before bed. Again, it's great for a few days but nothing permanent.
I'm so totally at the point of bribing them with money, which I really detest doing, but I don't know what else to do.
The triplets share a room, so the periods of chaos have been brutal. When establishing the routine, there were no toys in the room, I was strict about timing, and if they were wild, all the lights got turned off and the door got closed. Now, they have toys in the room, the night light on and the door open, so things did eventually change.
Our routine is sloppy now, but when I was having trouble getting the kids to bed it was like clockwork and started at dinner, which was always at 4:45. I was probably hard-core about the routine for 18 months before their sleep needs started to change and things shifted.
The routine was dinner, short play time while I did dishes, go upstairs and pick out pajamas, bath, pajamas on, brush teeth, running around in the upstairs hall, Mama chases kids into bedroom, read three picture books, choose a story CD (alternating who chose), each kid turns out the light, turns on the CD and gets tucked into bed; Mama does a round of hugs and kisses, Mama gets sippy cups of water to have in bed and does a final round of "goodnights".
Most of the "sleep experts" say bedtime routines should be calming, but I always found that time running around between bath and bed did wonders to do the final tiring them out, especially on days when we didn't get outdoor play time.
Probably the most important thing is to figure out what schedule you need for the work schedule to succeed and talk to them about it while being strict about implementing changes.
mother of Patrick (7/31/03), and Michael, William, and Jocelyn (4/27/07)
I have two kids, DS is 6 (will turn 7 in May) and DD is 3 (will turn 4 in May) and they also share a room and will for the foreseeable future. Bedtime is 9pm and I go into the room with them. We have a bunk bed and the oldest sleeps on the top and I lie down on the bottom with the youngest. The youngest is in daycare and usually takes a nap - so she doesn't fall asleep until almost 10 pm. At least twice a week she doesn't nap a daycare and I love those days. My oldest falls asleep by 9:30 so I have tons of free time on no nap days. All I really do is lie down with them to stop the talking and I play a book on my MP3 player. My library has the Magic Treehouse Series available for download and we also listen to CDs for A to Z Mysteries. We will eventually need to find some new series but these are working for us.
I have tried leaving them alone and just playing the book, but they usually play around if I do that and they won't fall asleep until after 10pm. I have tried settling down routines, like reading a book or watching tv prior to bed, but it doesn't seem to make a difference for my kids. The routine can be very difficult for me so I have abandoned it. If I get a chance to read a book, I do it. If not, I don't worry about it.
Good luck - I hope you find something that works for you and your family.
I only have one, so I know it's easier, but this is what ours looks like:
8:45ish head upstairs, go pee, brush teeth, brush hair, put on pjs.
9:00-9:15ish start reading a book, then turn off lights, snuggle in bed, talk about our day, hugs kisses goodnight, and I leave.
I don't know quite how we developed a dependably efficient routine. DD was a HORRIBLE sleeper for the first 3 years of her life! Now she knows that she's tired and the importance of sleep. She still naps 2-3 hours a day, and if it gets pushed real late or she misses her nap, she knows it makes her feel crummy. So maybe somehow getting them to understand the value of sleep? I have no idea how, but that seems to have something to do with our usually easy sleeping routines.
I'm curious, OP, what happens when they are left alone to do what they want? How long do they play? Can they fall asleep on their own once it gets really late? Not that I'm suggesting you do that purposely, I'm just wondering what the worst-case scenario is.
Mine are 4.5 and almost 9.
After dinner is bath time and if they have time between that and bedtime, they play or hang out on the couch with us or watch part of a movie. About 7:50, I start getting them headed downstairs. Then it's teeth brushing, going potty and into their beds. My older son gets in bed and starts reading while I read a book to my younger son. Once his is done, we turn on his disco ball and he goes right to sleep. Then I go read to my oldest. It's 8:30 at the latest by the time I'm done.
Something about the lights they have help with their sleep. DS1 has a lava lamp and he's gone to sleep much faster since he got that. DS2 has an old disco ball of dh's that he loves and once he's asleep I turn it off. I have also found that letting either of them read/look at books puts them right to sleep. Neither are asleep when I leave their room but they go to sleep pretty quickly after I leave.
My ds will be 6 in March and dd will be 4 in August. Bedtime usually starts at about 7:30 if they`re having a bath, 8 if they`re not. So they have a bath together, then jammies & brush teeth (if they don`t have a bath then they just wash up before brushing their teeth. Sometimes they shower separately - ds with dh & dd with me). Then I read stories to them for 20-30 mins. They then get into bed, listen to a CD & ds reads til he falls asleep (usually for an hour). Dh lies with dd til she falls asleep. So that`s usually around 9.
They kind of share a room, ds` room was an addition onto the back of the house, just off of dd`s room so there`s a wall with a doorway between them. She`s scared of the dark so ds` lamp doesn`t bother her, she also has a dim lamp on in her room as well.
My kids are about the same age as yours 5 1/2 and almost 4. For a while it was brutal when they first started sharing a room about a year ago. I was so used to ds1 just quietly reading books in his bed and then falling asleep. Then ds2 came onto the scene and is a totally different kid. Putting them into a room together just ramped up ds1. It always ended up with someone crying. I'll tell you what I did to make it better for us. Bedtime is 7:30. At 7, we brush teeth, get jammies and read books. And I try to be out of there by 7:30. Then, I let go of the idea that either of my kids were going to quietly look at books and then fall asleep. I got a dimmer switch. Then I set some rules with them: You may play together (with the light half dimmed), but as soon as I hear fighting or crying then everyone in their beds with the lights out. I stuck with this. the little one, and sometimes the big one, would bawl when I enforced it, but I just kept at it. Now, they will play well together and I will find them each in their own bed asleep. Now, sometimes it's 9 or 9:30. But that's fine with me. They aren't going to get to sleep before they're tired, and my kids are just not "easy sleepers." They never have been. This works for us. I also have a cd player playing books on tape for them which doesn't seem to help, but they like it. And we've cut out naps entirely unless there are circumstance that would call for it. Good luck, I know it can take a toll battling bedtime. I hope you find just what works for you and your kids.
This is what our ideal bedtime routine looks like NOW that our kids are 6 and 9 (and in reality, move everything forward about 20 minutes!)
7:45 or so: Pajamas
8:10 independent reading time
8:20 (for dd) brushing teeth, flossing
8:25 (for dd) mom/dad read one chapter of her book outloud, followed by prayers
8:30 (for ds) brushing teeth, flossing
8:35 or so dd goes to bed, keeps reading in her room
8:35 ds gets one of his chapters read
8:45 or so - ds in bed
somewhere between 9:15-9:45 ds gets up, puts his book away, comes down to say hi to me, hangs out with me, I get grumpy and tell him to go to bed, he says goodnight to dh, and FINALLY goes to bed.
When our kids were 3 and 6, the bedtime routine looked like this:
8:30 story time (with both kids)
8:45 brush teeth
8:55-?? mom or dad (depending on who's night it was) stayed in the room until the kids fell asleep. Dh would bring his laptop and work; I'd bring a book and read.
Note that we would not be in bed with the kids, but on the floor in between the kids' beds. (They're in separate rooms now, but at the time they weren't.) We tried to be as boring as possible. If they got out of bed (other than one quick trip to the bathroom) or were noisy, we left until they calmed down.
When we were trying to transition them to falling asleep without us, what we'd do is set the timer for increasing intervals and check on them. So, we'd start with 5 minutes, go in and check on them (if they were quiet and in bed, otherwise the timer was reset). Then we'd set it for 10 minutes and check. The 15, 20, 25, etc. Often they were asleep by the 10-15 minute mark, and a few days it took until the 25 minute mark. But, we didn't have to be there all the time. It was a quick check and didn't require us interrupting our activities for much. Eventually, they were able to regulate themselves and we could dispense with the timer. The timer was useful because it told them that we were coming back.
The final thing I'd say is: it takes us 2-4 weeks to establish a new routine.
ETA: Our bedtime routine also gets messed up whenever anyone is sick, we're on vacation, and sometimes even when the kids have a day off of school. If we have a day or two of 'off' bedtimes, it'll take us a day or two to get back into the routine. If we have a week, it'll take us a week.