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Completely at a loss

1645 Views 37 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  kerc
I couldn't seem to figure out if this belongs in Parenting Issues, Nighttime Parenting, GD, Mental Health, or Personal Growth, so I'm just posting this in TAO.

All 3 of my children should have been in school by 9:15 this morning. Currently, Leah is in school and the other two are still in bed. Why are they still in bed, you ask? Because they didn't get to bed until 11:30 PM. Why didn't they go to bed earlier? Because I can't figure out how the heck to do it!

Jack took a long late nap yesterday, and then wasn't tired at 8:00. Even when he IS tired at 8:00, I often can't get him to sleep before 10.

I have some friends who are very gentle and soft spoken with their children, and they have absolutely no problems with bedtime. They say it's time for bed, and they put their kids to bed. The older one (9) sits in her room reading from the time the little ones (2.5 and 5) go to bed until she's ready for sleep. They recognize that the little ones have a hard time settling down if they think the older one is up having fun. Their kids simply know not to argue with Mom and Dad- when one of them says "Bedtime" or "No more TV" they know it's serious.

I know that I can't use ALL of their methods because 1) I don't put overtired toddlers into a crib and walk away while the child "fusses." 2) I don't have separate bedrooms for my children, so the one who needs a later bedtime is going to argue about "lights out" when the younger one needs to sleep.

I'm feeling very much overwhelmed and walked over. It feels like nobody is "in charge" at my house. When I do try to be firm, my kids interpret it as me being rigid and arbitrary. Basically, sometimes I get fed up and "crack down" on behaviors I used to "let slide" and they resist and I get angry.

How do I break this cycle? How can I "force" grumpy, cranky,overtired kids into bed, and get them to stay there? How do I keep myself from totally losing my cool before bedtime when they're cranky all day?

My Mom thinks I should go see the therapist again. We haven't been there in a few months for a number of reasons. 1) I felt like she was pressuring me to medicate Hannah. 2) She disagreed with my decision to treat Hannah's possible ADD with diet, and was unsupportive when I became overwhelmed with food preparation and getting Hannah to comply.

I also started feeling disrespected by her when I didn't follow her suggestions- like there was something "wrong" with me for not providing more consistent discipline. When I first met her, we "clicked" and I thought it was a good fit. Now I'm wondering if it's turning into a "bad fit" or if I'm resisting her suggestions because she's right and I'm about to make a major breakthrough with my mental health.

Or maybe I am doing alright, and the lack of external discipline is appropriate while my kids are dealing with a major stress (upcoming move.)
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I just had to reply because my kids hate to go to sleep too!

At the moment, my kiddos have separate rooms. When Goo takes a rare nap at preschool, she won't go to bed until 11. I hate that!
We have broken down to bribery. Sad, I admit it. She loves to watch an episode of Dora before bedtime, so that is a "treat" that she has to earn. If she goes to bed when we ask and quietly, then she can watch Dora the next day. I know I know, not very Ap on the list, but it helps us.
We also allow her to read books in her room, but we sometimes have to sit down and do the "family" discussion. We talk about how we are a family and we HAVE to work together. That I HAVE to get dishes done after she goes to bed. That if she is up and making noise, her sister can't sleep, etc.
Usually that helps, but she hates that discussion.

Here's a suggestion:
Are all three in the same room or just the girls?
If the girls share I would send Hannah to bed first. Discuss staying in bed, reading etc, but you need to deal with Jack or what ever.

Let Leah get ready for bed, but let her get some books to curl up on the couch to read until Hannah is asleep. Maybe let her have a blanket and pillow in case she falls asleep. This way, she is away from Hannah.

Before you do this, have a quick family meeting. Explain that the sleep issues are really causing problems. Jack may or may not get it. Leah and Hannah should. Explain how bedtime is going to go. Ask them how they will stay in bed. Make it a group effort. If you explain that bedtime issues are making YOU cranky and that you don't want to be this way towards them, it may click that they need to help you. (or just say it, "I need your help, How can we do this?"

I think a small lack of discipline is ok when a stress is coming up, but I also think it really helps kids to understand that they are part of something bigger than themselves (a family) and that they need to work together to get through it.

Sending you a hug. I am always amazed by the power of single moms!
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Officially, Jack and I share one bedroom and the girls share the other. A few weeks ago, I invited Hannah into my room because she was having a tough time coping with all the stress, she was acting out a lot, and I felt that she needed more "time in" with me. The girls have always slept in my room for Shabbat and Jewish holidays, so they can leave the light on in their room for playing, and this past week (Monday and Tuesday being Shavous, another Jewish holiday) Leah never seemed to move back out

So, the 4 of us are in one room right now. Leah likes to watch TV before bed, but the TV room is next to my bedroom and it keeps the other 2 awake. Hannah has a hard time going to sleep when Leah is watching something (just as she has a hard time doing homework or chores while Leah is doing something "fun.")
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BTW that is a nice idea having the sleepover on Shabbot,

Ok- maybe it is time to kick Leah back to her room. Goo will also take over the special occasions.

Maybe tell Hannah that she can sleep in your room BUT she needs to go to bed at her bedtime or she sleeps in her room. (that way she chooses staying up later or sleeping with you once you get to bed)

Hmmm. thinking. I have had to get creative before with Goo, and Moo wants to stay up as long as she knows Goo is having fun...

I will think more.
What is your nighttime ritual for the girls? Do you listen to them say the Shma before they go to bed? What if you read a story to them--a chapter book, in installments--each night for 20 minutes before sleep time? If that is something they would like, they might be willing to let you put the baby to bed and be quiet while you do it.

About your therapist: is it normal for therapists to weigh in with strong opinions about your discipline and childrearing methods? Aren't they supposed to help you in your decision-making process instead of telling you what to do? This is the second time that an MDC mom has posted about a therapist telling her how to do discipline. It just seems off to me. I mean, here is what I would expect to hear from a therapist:

Ruthla: I have decided to try the Feingold Diet instead of starting Hannah on medication.

Dr. Nicelady: How do you feel about that decision?

Ruthla: I'm excited about it! I think this diet could really help her! But...

Dr. Nicelady: But...

Ruthla: I'm worried about what my mom will say if it doesn't work right away.

Dr. Nicelady: And how are you going to cope with that? Would you like to role play?
Etc. Do you know what I mean? There shouldn't be an opportunity for the therapist to weigh in and say, "The Feingold Diet? What a load of crap, I can't believe you!" etc.
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Part of the problem is that we don't really have a nighttime ritual. Quite frankly, by the evening, I'm more tired than they are, and trying to do any kind of ritual is simply too draining- I'm usually trying to keep myself awake until it's a decent time to try to get them to bed. And then, when I'm about to go have snuggle time for everybody, somebody announces that he or she is hungry, and/or "one more recording" and/or "one more computer game" and/or "let me finish this page/chapter/book."

About the therapist- it's not as simplistic as "The Feingold Diet? What a load of crap, I can't believe you!" It's more of a "Well, I don't know what else to suggest, you don't want to treat the ADD" and more subtle comments during a session about my "trying too hard" or "setting unrealistic goals for myself" when I'm feeling overwhelmed. It's not an "attack" of my parenting choices, it's little things that slip during the session.

Originally Posted by Ruthla
Part of the problem is that we don't really have a nighttime ritual. Quite frankly, by the evening, I'm more tired than they are, and trying to do any kind of ritual is simply too draining- I'm usually trying to keep myself awake until it's a decent time to try to get them to bed. And then, when I'm about to go have snuggle time for everybody, somebody announces that he or she is hungry, and/or "one more recording" and/or "one more computer game" and/or "let me finish this page/chapter/book."

About the therapist- it's not as simplistic as "The Feingold Diet? What a load of crap, I can't believe you!" It's more of a "Well, I don't know what else to suggest, you don't want to treat the ADD" and more subtle comments during a session about my "trying too hard" or "setting unrealistic goals for myself" when I'm feeling overwhelmed. It's not an "attack" of my parenting choices, it's little things that slip during the session.
Okay, the first part--you need an earlier nighttime ritual. It might have to be a long time before the children are ready to sleep. You can do stuff with them to mellow them out, and then let the girls read to themselves in bed. If you can figure out how to do it, give them bedside lamps so that one can read while the other sleeps (that's a tip from my parents, since I was an early reader and shared a room with my sister!) Just make it quiet time, because that will help everyone to pay attention to when she needs to sleep.

About the therapist: if she's saying "you don't want to treat the ADD" because you are using the Feingold Diet instead of medication, then she is obviously being judgemental. Is it her job to "suggest" ADD treatments? She's YOUR therapist, not Hannah's, right? She's not supposed to be making suggestions, that's what I'm saying. Suggestions about how you can cope with your feelings or make decisions or stuff like that, but not concrete suggestions like "turn down the TV set at 8PM so the children will get sleepy" or whatever. (that's our job, your sisters at MDC! :LOL)

If you still like her, go back to her and confront her on that. If you don't, well, you can find another therapist.

I think even if she thinks you are "trying too hard" that's still something for YOU to decide and in a therapy session she needs to be listening to what you say and helping you listen to yourself, too. So for example, if you say "Gosh, all this cooking in order to make sure that Hannah has a good diet is really wearing me out" it's not on her to call it an unrealistic goal, it's her job to say "do you think doing this special diet was a realistic goal?" Because you are the one who gets to decide that.
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I tend to agree on the nighttime ritual. We have one for Goo and we are working on one for Moo.

I hadn't thought about adding the sh'ma...that's a good idea as the last thing before bed.

Dr. Foo and I were just talking about a new bedtime ritual for Goo at lunch.
He thinks we need to set up a "ok- dinner is done, time to do X, but when bedtime starts, we do Y"

I am not sure how to deal with the "Leah is having fun, I don't want to go to bed". That is the hard one...

I am going to be lurking a bit on this to pick off some advice too!!! Hope you don't mind me listening and stalking!
Sometimes just the label "bedtime" or the instructions "to go to sleep" make kids resist. My ds is almost 4 and it sometimes works to tell him to pretend to sleep. I'm not sure where you can take that thought with multiple kids but I thought I'd throw it out there. Maybe having quiet time after a certain hour but that might cause a problem if the oldest is used to watching TV.

Originally Posted by captain optimism
About the therapist: if she's saying "you don't want to treat the ADD" because you are using the Feingold Diet instead of medication, then she is obviously being judgemental. Is it her job to "suggest" ADD treatments? She's YOUR therapist, not Hannah's, right?
Actually, all 3 of us were seeing her (in separate sessions.)
My opinion is that kids sometimes need rules. Yes we can be friends with our children, but we also have to set boundaries in our homes. If you feel that they need to go to bed earlier (some parents are fine with them staying up late, others like bedtimes), then I'm sure there can be some compromise. Maybe at 7:30 it's time for quiet-time and at 8 the lights go out but they can still listen to a walkman if they want.

As far as your mother, this is YOUR family and although she might be trying to help, she's just putting more pressure on you. Make sure that it's YOU who wants them to go to bed earlier, or wants more boundaries in general, and not her getting inside your head and causing you to doubt yourself.


My oldest dd did not have a firm bedtime until recently because she is a night owl and it was useless to try. She also wakes up at the crack of dawn.

My baby needs to be asleep by 7 becauses he has medical issues and must be hooked up to equipment at night. I did very gentle sleep training with her. I wouldn't even call it "training." More like just getting her used to the idea that she has to go to bed and once she's in the room and lights are off she doesn't come out again, and lights do not get turned back on. I will pat her, hold her for a few minutes, but she is not allowed to walk around. If she wants down I put her back in the crib. Sometimes she will just play with her little car in the dark in the crib, most of the time she sleeps though. SHe really loves her crib. I know, weird kid. :LOL

She and Abi have very different personalities and I know that played a part, too. Abi wanted nothing to do with her Pack and Play bed that we had for her after 3 mos. old (thus our entrance into co-sleeping).

They share a room. Sometimes when Nitara is sick I will sleep in that room, too, in Abi's bed with her. Abi goes to bed at 8-8:30, after Nitara is fast asleep. If Abi is not yet tired she still has to go to bed. I let her play her Leapster (sound off) or listen to a book on tape but she *has* to stay in bed, period. If Abi makes noise and wakes her sister up she is removed and must lie down in our bed for awhile, no Leapster or books.

We are extremely sleep-deprived due to Nitara's medical things. She often vomits at night or doesn't sleep well, or her machines beep. So we *must* have firm bedtimes so that we can sleep and take care of them during the day.

Oh, and I've noticed a difference in Abi's level of defiance and she sleeps better when I give her lots of chores to do every day. I'm not into child labor but I do make sure that every member who can contribute to the function of our household, does contribute. Abi is old enough to do a lot of things to help out and I think it helps her feel satisfied inside. It works off her wiggles so she can go to sleep more easily, too.
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Maybe it's time to cut out naps on your wee one? I agree to start the bedtime routine earlier (I love the wintertime, I can go to bed at 7pm EASILY). Implement some "rules", lights have to be out at a certain time. No tv after a certain time. And if they want to read, invest in a small battery operated book light or flashlight that can be used for reading so the lights don't bother the younger kids? (I've implemented all these in our house as I have a nightowl too.)
Jack usually doesn't nap- which is why it throws off the entire schedual when he does!!

Well, tonight I TRIED to get everybody into bed around 9:30, but Hannah was having a huge tantrum in the other room and Jack got up to comfort her and didn't come back into the room. Then I started to doze off then woke up when I realized the kids were awake and unsupervised (and screaming!) so I got up. Now that I've almost fell asleep and been woken up a few times this evening, it's unlikely that I'll fall asleep tonight. I'm so tired that I'm feeling dizzy but I'm no longer able to fall asleep. Oh, and the kids are still up

I'm not about to actually hurt anybody, but right now I can COMPLETELY understand how other parents can hit their kids!!!
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Yep. I recommend breadmaking- great way of venting the frustrations.

I'm with USAmma on this one- sometimes children need very clear boundaries, especially on personal choice issues- like, for instance, bedtime. Some thoughts I had- is there any way you could organize your schedule so you can get a nap in before the afternoon school run? To give yourself an energy boost? Also, could you get a weeks worth of meals in the freezer and eat off paper plates whilst you're in your first week of the routine?
Secondly, I'd buy an alarm clock. That way, the morning routine can be consistent, even when the bedtime routine is not- it seems coldhearted to wake a child up when you know they got to sleep late, but they do have responsibilities- school, etc- that need to be met.
What we do- we get in from school, normally via the park, get the homework done, watch TV if anyone wants, then eat dinner. Dishes get done quickly (in theory) then the boys and an adult (whoever is handy) go and take the dog for a bedtime run so she can go to the toilet and get all relaxed and happy. In through the door, boys upstairs, dog downstairs- so the TV isn't an issue. Bath, jamies, warm drink in winter, bed. We get- at most- half an hour of messing about. There are two of us, but I implemented most of the routine when it was just me- and roped my friends in to help support me when I felt like cracking.
Oh- I have less than 2 years between my two, and I don't differentiate bedtimes. I don't think a 6yo needs significantly more sleep than a nearly 5yo, and he gets other privileges and responsibilities. I'll just throw that thought into the equation.
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Could the older girls throwing tantrums like that and being so grumpy and hard to get to bed be from being OVER tired? I can tell when mine need that extra sleep, because they are BEARS.

I know we all want to be gentle and let our kids set their own clocks and way of going about things, but if it's upsetting the rest of the family (YOU!) then some guidelines need to be set too.

You "sound" exhausted and an exhausted momma isn't a good thing niether, momma needs her sleep so she can deal with the kidlets calmly too. I think I'd probably have one of my "because I said so" moments and make them ALL go to bed early for a change, no matter what.

Will they sleep better if they're in your bed/room? Do YOU sleep better that way? There are many times my older ones still come in and sleep on my floor, and we ALL sleep better that night.

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It seems like I'm already doing everything you guys have suggested!! Leah is sleeping on a pile of blankets on the floor at the foot of my bed, and Jack and Hannah are in my bed. Jack's toys "sleep" on the toddler bed in my room. We have two alarm clocks- one in each bedroom.

Maybe there isn't much difference between the sleep needs of a 9yo and a 10yo, in general, but Leah has always needed less sleep than "average" for her age and there is no question in my mind that she needs less sleep than Hannah does right now. She may even need less sleep than I do right now!!

I've tried pulling the "I'm the Mommy and I said so" card but it doesn't work. I'm not strong enough to physically restrain them and force them to stay in bed- and even if I was, I'm uncomfortable with the idea. When Hannah is having a tantrum and refusing to come to bed, what am I supposed to do? She weighs about 60 lbs and I have fibromyalgia- I CANNOT carry her to bed anymore!!

I know they're overtired. The problem is that I don't know how to fix it.
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I don't know whether all of your kids watch tv before bed or just the one, but I would recommend not letting them do that. Watching a flickering screen is not conducive to sleep. I have read studies that show that watching tv before bedtime is associated with sleep problems.

With my kids, two and three, we have a piece of paper with pictures of each of the steps in the bedtime routine. We go through it every night (it takes about 45 minutes), and then the kids get in bed and listen to books on tape. I tell them that they can look at books, play quietly with small toys, or listen to their tapes. They don't have to go to sleep but they have to stay in bed and they can't come out of the room.

I think that it is important for kids to have a regular bedtime. Especially kids who go to school, because kids who don't get enough sleep don't do as well in school.

I have one kid and one husband, both of whom are really resistant to sleep. I on the other hand am quick to fall asleep, but when woken up mid-night more likely to remain awake. Oh and Erik (dh) is out of town for a month and for the last month has been working like 18 hrs of every day.

that said....
we rough, outdoor playtime when we come home

then dinner (erin helps with napkins and setting the table, which clues her into quieting down time begins). dinner is sometimes elaborate, tonight it is salad and sandwiches. so nothing fancy.

load dishwasher

quiet indoor play until 730ish.

bath time

pjs/brush teeth

read stories in bed, snuggle for 2 minutes.

then I leave and the lights stay on. We discuss that this time is for erin to do "erin-stuff" and mom to do "mom-stuff" and when dad's around dad does "dad-stuff". erin knows the lights will be on until 830. at 830 I turn the lights off. If I think erin's not very tired, I generally leave the lights on until 9 so that I don't have to fight her.

then we begin a process of returning erin to her own bed. it usually takes 2 times of tucking in.

naps are 1 hour, and occur before 3pm. or else she's a terror. I wake her by opening her door and stroking her face.

and on a side note: I have friends whose kids are not nearly the "trouble" erin is at going to bed. But they aren't nearly as passionate people.

Do your older kiddos do the tantrum thing because they each need snuggle time with you? can you do that say by reading stories or whatever with them one at a time during the time the others are beginning their showers before bed?I can't see your signature right now, but say A,B, C are kids in age oldest is A.

child c into bath
child b with you
child a does whatever - tv time or whatever

child c out of bath and snuggle time
child b into bath
child a continues tv time

child c into bed
child b snuggle time
child a showers

child c and b into bed
child a snuggles....

mom passes out from exhaustion.
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Aha! That's where this thread went.

Okay, of course if you are seeing the same therapist as your daughter and she recommended drugs, she will see it as a rejection if you try diet instead. You need to see a different therapist from Hannah's therapist, so she won't be so invested in you doing exactly what she prescribed!

Your bedtime is too late, that's the problem. It takes them awhile to wind down! My son (only one of him!) gets very jazzed up. I give him a bath between 7 and 7:30 and start getting him down to bed around 8 or 8:30, and he doesn't get all the way to sleep until 9 or 9:30. And we NURSE! and there's only ONE! You have THREE! so you have to start nighttime stuff early.

Tell them that you are putting them to bed earlier because you know it takes a long time to get sleepy. It's not a punishment. Put the girls back in their room, and go in there with Jack to do the nighttime reading. That way (and you can tell them this) he can hear how big girls say the Shma. Get out of their room by 8 or 8:30 and tell them they have to have the lights out by 9:00. You can always go back to check them.

Edited to add: It sounds very authoritarian "put them to bed" but if you set up a routine and keep to it, they should find it reassuring rather than otherwise.

Your children are very sweet, I love it that the three year old comforts his sister. I hope they are always this kind to one another, and that they start being kinder to you, too.
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