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I can give my full sympathy because it's happened to me too! I hated it!! We still struggle with bedtime but after reading Raising Your Spirited Child and my own creativity I was able to apply some principles to bedtime and it's much improved. Not sure if some of the ones here are old enough for some of my ideas but here they are-- figured you'd be willing to try anything. :)

-- at 20 mos. or so we got dd her own futon on the floor next to, but slightly separated, from our bed. We started putting her only to sleep on it so at least we got a few hours of alone-time sleep before she woke up to join us at midnight. Now at 30 mos. she joins us at around 4-5 AM so it's getting better. The family bed just was not working for us past a certain age. Too much stress and sleep deprivation.

-- my dd's a big kicker. I was literally sore from her kicking me and really fed up with it. She has to kick something to go to sleep. First I had her kicking a pillow but she would wiggle those feet under the pillow to get at me. Then I started rubbing her legs and it relaxes her enough that she goes to sleep.

-- She has a CD that she's been using for about 3 mos. now. Gentle nature-based music. She turns it on herself and *needs* it to get to sleep. Sometimes she'll wake up at night and turn it on and go back to sleep. Dh and I are thrilled with this recent development!

-- We read her a couple books in bed before the lights go out. She puts the lights out. I think it's important for her to take part in her bedtime routine. Then in the dark I recount everything she did that day so she has things to think about as she falls asleep. I put it in the form of a story.

-- She knows that us sitting next to her while she goes to sleep is a priveledge. If she kicks us, we leave for a few minutes and she has to stay in her bed or she goes to time-out. We don't leave the room, we just move to our bed. She cries and tries harder not to kick. This was a tough thing to do but both dh and I were tired of getting kicked by a child who's old enough to control it at least most of the time. Esp. with me being pg now, and dh getting kicked one too many times in his groin area.

-- To combat the boredom I bought a walkman and got books on tape from the library. I actually started looking forward to bedtime so I could "read" my book in the dark! Later I got a booklight and now I read sometimes too. She knows not to touch the light or else I leave the bed.

-- If it's taking too long to get her to sleep dh and I will relieve each other after an hour. (Dh has been putting her to bed more than me lately to get her ready for the new baby).

-- We make sure she has eaten a good dinner and give her 1/2 glass of milk before bedtime to make sure she doesn't wake up hungry. She was waking up very hungry very early and we started making her eat more at dinner-- this was a power struggle, not her not being hungry-- and now after dinner she will even eat 1/2 slice of apple pie! (So I know we are not forcing her to eat more than she can) Then by bedtime she's full and happy and sleeps better.

-- We never let her nap after 2 PM, period. Sometimes we have a hellish afternoon and evening but it's worth it when she drops off to sleep at a decent hour. As far as naps go, I allow her to tell me when she wants one rather than trying to get her down at a certain time. I wait for the signals of her rubbing her eyes and looking dazed, and then lay down with her and let her go to sleep. If she doesn't go to sleep right away I give up on it. Yesterday she didn't get to sleep by 2 PM so she didn't get a nap yesterday at all and it was ugly, but she slept through the whole night 9 PM- 7 AM!

It still sometimes takes 2 hours to get her to sleep on the bad days, but the booklight and our rules really, really help us all to not feel resentful about it. Most of the time now it takes under 30 minutes.

Good luck you all! I feel your pain!!

Darshani
 

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I bought a booklike from Barnes and Noble that clips onto the back of the book, and you can focus the light where you want it. I sit on dd's bed with my knees up (well at least until my belly gets bigger! lol!) and rest the book on it, partially closed. The light doesn't shing on dd's face or anywhere near her. And like I said she knows not to touch it. It took some working with her but *my* needs are important too. I knew it was not violating her trust in any way to threaten a time out if she kept touching my book light. She needs to be taught boundaries sometimes.

Darshani
 
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