Wednesday, October 24, 2012


There are lots of things I don't remember from when my babies were newborns. The first time they smiled, the first dirty diaper, the first time Charlie slept through the night.

I do however, remember the first time Sam slept through the night. I had heard all these stories from moms about how the first time their firstborn slept "through the night" (which typically means 6 hours or more), they would jerk awake and rush to see if the baby was still alive.

That didn't happen for me.

I was at my parent's house, and it was about 6:30 in the morning. I heard her cry, looked at the clock, and all I thought was, "Please, please sleep a little longer." It had been 7 1/2 hours. I should have been ecstatic, but instead I was really sleep-deprived. Luckily for me, Sam continued to sleep through the night, until about...oh...the past few months.

In those precious times, bedtime was a joyous occasion. We had a good routine with Sam, and she was pretty easy to put down. Bottle, swaddle, bed. As she got older it was bottle, books, bed. Sometimes Workaholic would put her to sleep and we would enjoy a nice, quiet couple of hours before going to sleep.

The reason I say those were joyous times is because before and after those times, bedtime is the worst time of the day. Worse even than getting up in the morning. My kids seem to save up all of their energy for after dinner, at which time they run screaming around the house, tickling and tackling each other, stealing each others toys, and generally being wild animals.We've tried to set a routine...sometimes a bath, then brush teeth, get into pajamas, read books, snuggle, sleep. Oh how we have tried.

The past few weeks have been, well...hell. Take tonight, for example. Workaholic is working, so it is just me. I give them a 20 minute warning, at which Sam protests. Charlie says, "OK!" only because I think she likes to say that word. When I announce it is time for bed, Sam starts whining and asking for things, and Charlie bolts. I chase her down, drag her into her room, and wrangle her into a diaper and PJs. I turn on the sound machine, turn down the lighting, and we read books. At least five every night. And then I tell her that we can either rock and snuggle or she can go to bed. At which she tells me no.

Eventually she wriggles out of my arms and climbs into bed. This is where the hell begins. (as if the fighting beforehand wasn't bad enough) We've gotten into a terrible routine of putting her in bed, me walking out, her getting up, me putting her back into bed. After about 15 times of this, she starts to get really upset. This isn't a game she wants to play anymore. She has figured out that I will rock her if she is insistent enough, and cries hard enough. I'm talking the can't-breathe-sobbing-pathetic cry that toddlers do that sort of break your heart. And it also sorta makes you roll your eyes because you know that they are just tired and WHY THE HELL WON'T THEY JUST GO TO SLEEP??

So I rock her, and then tell her that it is time for her to go to her bed. She goes willingly enough, and a few seconds after I walk out of the room, the crying begins again. And the getting out of bed, getting put back in bed routine starts too.This can be a cycle, I might give her more than one chance to rock and snuggle if she gets upset enough. I figure if she is crying THAT hard, there is no way she'll calm down enough to sleep. (I think I need to get a harder heart.)

Tonight, the process took and hour and half. AFTER we went into her room. AN HOUR AND A HALF PEOPLE. I could be watching valuable television, or posting witty things on facebook, or blogging for goodness sake. I could be trying to regain my sanity after a crazy day.

I am all for spending 30 minutes on a bedtime routine. But seriously, 90 minutes?? And that is just Charlie! Let's not even talk about Sam! The best part of the 90 minutes is when I came out of Charlie's room to see that Sam had fallen asleep waiting on me. In my bed, of course, but at least she was asleep. And this isn't the first time it has taken this long.

Sam's biggest complaint is that she "is not tired" and that she wants to sleep with us. Yes, we have caved more than I would like to admit and let her sleep with us. It started out as a necessity of staying in beds that weren't ours. Then it turned into her begging every night. And if she doesn't get her way (yes, we do say no most of the time), then she will often get up at 4 or 5 in the morning and want to come in and "snuggle" with me. (read:push up against me until I fall out of the bed)

So not only am I not getting my alone time at night, but I am getting woken up almost every night by at least one, if not both kids. I'm not sure how to handle this. I need my sleep. I NEED MY SLEEP. They don't get sugar or juice at night, and I am limiting how much they watch the iPad and TV. It doesn't seem to be helping.

Does anyone have any other suggestions? I just don't have it in me to fight both kids at night and it seems ridiculous that I have to. Maybe this is just karma being a bitch.


Meagan said...

I've lucked out with good sleepers, but we did have to train them some. They are now 4 and 5 (almost 6), but at 2 and 3, we had to work on getting them to stay in bed.

One thing that helped a lot at the beginning was a gate on their bedroom door. Closing their door scared them, but a gate allowed them to feel like it was open and corralled them. There were many times we would come upstairs to find them sound asleep on the floor in the doorway.

When they would cry and call out, we would wait before responding. When we started, it might be 3 minutes, then 5, then 10. Usually by then they gave up.

For a while they were getting up way too early. We would tuck them back in bed and tell them to go back to sleep. It sometimes netted us 5 or 10 minutes. Eventually, it paid off. It took months.

We also have a playroom in the 3rd bedroom. When they get up, they are supposed to go play in their playroom until they hear our radio. The audio cue is great. On weekends we can set the alarm a little later and they know not to wake us up.

Now that they are getting a little older, we put a digital clock in their room. They learned at Grandma and Grandpa's house not to get up until the clock had a 7 for the first number (there's a clock in their room there). So, they were already trained on that side. We're teaching them what time is bedtime. Since they see the time on the clock, it makes it less personal.

Speaking of which, for a while they were really fighting when we told them it was bedtime. I don't remember how we started, but we started setting a timer. We'd tell them bedtime was in 15 minutes. When the timer went off, it was bedtime. For some reason, when it wasn't us telling them it was bedtime, it made it easier for them to accept it.

I don't know if any of those tricks would work for you or if your kids would respond, but... Hopefully they will start sleeping better soon. Sleep is so important.

(Bonus: my 5 year old actually asked for an earlier bedtime now that he's in Kindergarten. He was too tired at school and recognized that he needed more sleep. Maybe yours will figure that out too.)

Gail said...

Thank you so much Meagan! Those are great ideas, especially the audio cue.I had really resisted the gate idea, because my 2 yo can easily scale one, but if it is just to keep the door open, that makes so much sense.