SLEEP => Sleeping For Toddlers => Topic started by: joaquinsmom on November 08, 2006, 18:31:48 pm

Title: how do I handle bedtime?
Post by: joaquinsmom on November 08, 2006, 18:31:48 pm
After what seems like ages of struggling with ds' bedtime, dh and I have finally decided to stop stressing over it and just let him go to bed whenever he feels tired. It sounds insane to me but dh had suggested it before because he thought it was crazy for me to be stuck in ds' bedroom for up to 2 hours every night and many times ending with me in tears, screaming at everything in sight because I just couldn't handle it anymore.

So, last night I just made everything as relaxed as possible, we had some dinner, we played a while, then when dd got sleepy ds stayed with dh in the livingroom while I put dd to bed. When I came out, dh and ds were playing happily, screaming, jumping, etc... After a while it seemed like ds was getting way to hyper so we just kind of tried to get him to do something calmer like read a book or something but of course he started crying, screaming really, and finally asked for his bottle and so I asked him if he wanted to go to sleep and he said yes. Dh and I got into bed with him and we hugged and kissed goodninght and I thought he would fall asleep in a second, but it actually took a little while longer than I expected. Dh and I ended up all falling asleep there too.

It was better than staying in his room for two hours stressing because dh and I hadn't even had dinner or even gotten to say hi to each other, but we did have to deal with a couple of tantrums caused by over tiredness. So the thing I'm trying to figure out here is, how do I help him learn to recognize when hes tired and needs to go to bed? cause last night it seemed like he was getting more and more wound up and I could see he was just sooooo tired, but he just wanted to keep playing. And then, what about on school days when I know he's going to have to get up early the next day? do I just trust that he will kind of learn to regulate his sleep on his own, and be tired earlier the next day?

This is a very new thing for me... I have always been the bedtime meanie cause I think it's so important for him to rest since he is soooooooo active all day. So I would really appreciate all the advice you can give me.

Thank you so much!!!
Title: Re: how do I handle bedtime?
Post by: woopster on November 08, 2006, 18:38:28 pm
Do you have a wind down routine?  Do you start calming things down BEFORE it gets to bedtime?
It might be an idea to slow things down around tea time.  Have a quiet meal then explain that he will have a bath and a story then a bottle and into bed.
I wouldn't have DH play rough with him before bed - that will just excite him too much.
Do you get into bed with him every night? I used to sit in with DS for up to 3 hours a night just waiting for him to go to sleep.
Could you try just sitting on the bed after a story - don't talk to him, let him get used to you sitting there.  Then after he has got used to that, sit on a chair next to his bed and very gradually move it away until you are no longer in the room.  This may take a long time, but stick with it.
Title: Re: how do I handle bedtime?
Post by: joaquinsmom on November 08, 2006, 22:03:28 pm
Thanks Wendy!
Yep, I have to lie down with him every night... sometimes it takes 2 hours and many times it has ended badly...

Last week I started trying to get him to fall asleep with me just sitting on the bed. The good thing is, it has stopped him from pulling my hair to fall asleep (torture!!!!!) but he still cries and complains because he wants me to lie down with him. But yeah, I think that's a good idea and I will try to be consistent with it.

Our bedtime routine has always been bath, bottle and a book and then lights out. I thought it was pretty relaxing but then we would still spend hours of him asking to go outside and tossing and turning and playing, which would all be fine if I didn't have to actually be there the whole time kwim? So dh thinks maybe I'm putting him to bed too early, and maybe we should just wait until he's falling on the floor from exhaustion  ;)  This is fine in theory but in reality it's not so great cause he doesn't just suddenly crash, he gets all hiper and whiny and throws tantrums and all that fun stuff...

I posted here mostly because I had read some threads about ROCRO and UP where moms said they didn't have a set bedtime, they let their kids just kind of decide when they wanted to go to bed, and I was wondering if maybe ds is too young for that or if there's something I could do to help him realize when he starts feeling all crazy and wanting to cry about every little thing that it's time for bed.

This is nuts isn't it? three years ago if someone had told me that today my life would revolve around a little man's sleeping and eating habits I would have laughed...  :)

Thanks again Wendy!
Title: Re: how do I handle bedtime?
Post by: Katet on November 09, 2006, 02:08:56 am
OK I haven't read through other than your first post, but I think you were on the right track, we have a fairly "fluid" bedtime with Aiden &  it is "only quiet play after dinner" so if you can get your dh to do quiet stuff, keep it calm & relaxed & what we did was actually say, things like "do you think you are tired, because normally when you are like that you are tired"... or "you are rubbing your eyes, Mummy gets sore eyes when she is tired" So Aiden got to a point where mostly he could tell us he was tired.  Another thing is the number of stories gan be anything from 1 to about 6, depending on how much winding down he needs.
Just recently Aiden has wanted someone to stay with him until he falls asleep (due to a hospital stay) & at one point I really needed to go to the toilet... so I explained that & by the time I got back he was asleep... so maybe you could try that as a point you can leave & come back??
Title: Re: how do I handle bedtime?
Post by: jayne on November 09, 2006, 12:17:39 pm
you have gotten wonderful advice from kate and wendy--seeing that it is more of a sleep issue then a disclipline issue i am going to move this to the toddler sleep forum you will get more advice still--i am sure that kate and wendy will also follow up on this..

hope you get it sorted out :)
Title: Re: how do I handle bedtime?
Post by: joaquinsmom on November 09, 2006, 18:56:21 pm
Thanks Kate! I like the idea of asking him questions and giving him the chance to figure out for himself wether he is tired or not. I do have to talk to dh about keeping things a lot more lowkey at night, I think that should help.

Thanks Jayne for moving my post. I guess I kind of spaced out there and forgot there was that other board...

Last night was a nightmare. Ds went to the beach with my parents and came back at around 7. He slept the whole way in the car (2 1/2 hours), but I didn't know that. So when I got home at around 9:30 I thought he was tired because he was crying about every little thing. I asked him if he wanted his bottle and to go to bed and he said yes. Well, 1 1/2 hours later he was still awake, and I was at the end of my rope. Good thing dh came home and stayed with him until he fell asleep at around midnight :o so I could go to my room and cry myself to sleep  ;)

I have to remind myself that he won't be 2 1/2 forever... jeez...  :)
Title: Re: how do I handle bedtime?
Post by: woopster on November 09, 2006, 18:59:49 pm
Midnight?!?!  WOW!
What time do you normally have bath and bed time? Does he sleep at all during the day?
Title: Re: how do I handle bedtime?
Post by: Florencia on November 09, 2006, 19:32:46 pm
Hi Jennifer!
Tough times aren't they? i was about to ask the same question Wendy was. Is he still napping and if so when and for how long? you see all this tantrums at night sound like overtiredness to me. If you were already spending 2 hours inside his room trying to settle him back down, have you considered spending those 2 hours doing a sleep training option? I'm thinking wi/wo might work wonders for you. It works great with spirited lo's that have trouble winding down. He'd still have control about when to go to sleep but what would help you tons would be that there's a set time to go to his room. That is, you do wind down routine and in to his room he goes. You only wi if he's crying for you but instead of staying long hours next to him (which is draining for you and him) you just comfort briefly and wo. Explain to him that's bedtime and mommy's tired and so he is. It's ok if he stays in there just chattering or playing alone, he'll go to sleep when he wants to but you won't have to be in there the whole time.

I'm not a big fan of letting lo's set their bedtime by their own. For what i've seen they just crash around, become a tear mess and doesn't help them get the rest they need. What i like about wi/wo is that even when it takes long hours the first days for them to get it, it works and works for good. You have to be really firm when you wi, that is no play, no cuddling, no talking. Just brief comfort and explain him on the first time that is mommy's sleep time too so you won't be spending any more time next to him. He'll protest but if you remain consistant the first (and awful) three days he'll get the hint and hopefully will start showing an improvement.

HUGS i know how hard it is with one! let alone with another lo to tend to. but the reward is so amazing!!!!!! you too deserve some time with your hubby!
Title: Re: how do I handle bedtime?
Post by: jayne on November 09, 2006, 19:36:32 pm
Quote (selected)
Thanks Jayne for moving my post. I guess I kind of spaced out there and forgot there was that other board...
Quote (selected)

no thanks needed :) i am not so good at fixing sleep problems.. gina was touchy baby now spirited toddler i have gotten her into a routine that works for all of us.. but how i got there is a bit of blurr :-\ :-[

so i know you will get more help here :)

Title: Re: how do I handle bedtime?
Post by: Erin (redstarfalling) on November 09, 2006, 19:41:00 pm
I agree with the others - sounds like he's too overtired and worked up by the time bedtime comes around to relax enough to sleep.  I'm a big fan of wi/wo too and I also really like the ideas of talking to him about sleep cues.  We started doing it with dd and now she'll even say "Megan tired".  Of course if we suggest bed she says no and cries.  But the worse she protests, the more we know it's time.  Definitely he needs quiet activity after supper too. It'll come - see what sort of plan makes most sense to you and dh (and believe me - I can relate when you talked about your dh wanting to let him just crash - WHEN will they learn that it doesn't work that way???), and we'll be around to support you!
Title: Re: how do I handle bedtime?
Post by: joaquinsmom on November 09, 2006, 21:34:57 pm
Thank you all so much!! I really appreciate your advice :)

Ds usually takes a nap at around 2:30 and it usually lasts from 1 1/2 hours to 2. I usually lie down with him and dd while they have their bottle (I know, bad mom, bottle to get them to sleep...) and then they just fall asleep in about 5 minutes.

He didn't take a nap yesterday because he was at the beach. My parents take them to the beach every wednesday. But he slept about 2 1/2 hours in the car.

I'm afraid of doing wi/wo because he hates being in his room alone. He screams and says "somebody help me!" "get me out of here!" can you imagine?! Not only does it break my heart but I'm sure the neighbours must think I'm torturing him... Do you think this would be better than doing the gradual thing where I sit on the bed for a few days, then a chair, etc...?

Thank you again for all your help, I DESPERATELY need it...  :-[
Title: Re: how do I handle bedtime?
Post by: Erin (redstarfalling) on November 10, 2006, 13:17:19 pm
Does he sleep with any stuffed animals?  Made a big difference with my dd.  We just gradually started adding some (well - dh did and now she's up to 4!).  She snuggles with them before going to sleep and plays with them in the morning when she wakes up.  It could be an introduction of someone else sleeping with him - "bear is going to snuggle with you tonight instead of mommy".  Then, I'd be inclined to start the gradual thing of moving away, if you're more comfortable with that.  Once you get farther from the bed (after a week or 2 maybe), you could try nipping out -"mommy's going to the bathroom - I'll be right back".  Come back, but eventually, hopefully, he'll fall asleep in the interim. 

Whatever you do, you have to stick to the plan though.  It sounds like you're not quite ready for wi/wo and you'll cave and go back to lying down with him.  With wi/wo, you really can't be going in everytime he talks - you have to wait for him to cry or be upset.  With the other method, it might take much longer, but you might be better able to stick to it.  Talk to your dh and see what works for both of you.  Regardless of the method, though, you need to be consistent and also not give snuggles or any kind of positive reinforcement once you put him to bed.  No chatting or responding to him unless absolutely necessary and then, be firm and cool.  Stick with standard phrases like "it's bedtime - lie down and go to sleep". Avoid a lot of eye contact, physical contact and anything else that he'd want to stay up for!
Title: Re: how do I handle bedtime?
Post by: Harrisonsmummy on November 10, 2006, 13:35:08 pm
Can you post your whole routine to get a handle on your day? What time does lo get up, and what time do you generally try and get him to bed? When he goes to school how many days will it be for, as I would generally try and set a routine for bedtime and stick with it as much as possible, to regulate the body clock, otherwise he may be programmed for a late bedtime and then have to get up early and you may get stuck in one of those destructive tired cycles (nightmares all around!)

Title: Re: how do I handle bedtime?
Post by: joaquinsmom on November 10, 2006, 15:49:23 pm
I actually have tried the stuffed animals. I even bought him this stuffed doctor doll that had some hair made out of string hopint that he would like to pull that hair instead of mine. It didn't really work. Lately he's been so into Batman though, I may just make him a little stuffed batman to see if that will work  :)

His routine goes something like this:
8:00 A.M. Wake up (it's really hard to wake him up!), have a bottle and get dressed and ready for school
8:30 to 12:00 school (although he's going to start his Christmas break next week and it lasts until January)
12:00 to 1:15 play, watch tv, whatever at my mom's
1:15 to 2:30 lunch and hang out with mommy for a while
2:30 to 3:30 or 4:00 nap (after his bottle)
4:00 to 6:00 or 6:30 play, watch tv or whatever at my mom's (except on the two days a week I go to school, and then I don't get home until 9:30)
6:30 to 7:30 dinner and play for a little while
7:30 bath
8:00 we get into bed and read one or two books and then I give him his bottle and turn off the lights, and then it usually takes at least 1 hour for him to go to sleep.

Last night though, I let him stay up later since my sister needed some help with her thesis, so he got to play and be wild until like 9:00 or 9:30. After that he started crying for his batman shirt (I'm about ready to burn the darned thing!!) and so I took him home (we live on the 8th floor and my parents live on the 9th so really we only took the elevator home) gave him his bottle while I put his sister to bed, and then went in to see him and told him I was going to the bathroom and I would be back. He called me back to his room a couple of times but then he fell asleep. IT WAS HEAVEN. It may be a lot better for us than the gradual thing, it feels like with that plan I keep changing things on him every couple of days and he seems to not like change very much. Maybe it is just better to rip the bandaid in one pull...

Thank you again for taking the time to help :)
Title: Re: how do I handle bedtime?
Post by: Harrisonsmummy on November 10, 2006, 19:02:30 pm
Our bedtime routine is just starting so I will be brief, but I would try and put him down for a nap much earlier (probably tired after school anyway) say by 1pm ish and get him up by 3pm latest - earlier if you can make it and he will go off.

I give Harrison 5 hours between  nap wake-up and bedtime and he will go to sleep in approx 20 minutes. I always wake him by 3pm to preserve bedtime of 7.30pm (but H is an early waker - up at 6am so he does nap easily at 12.30pm).

It may be worth bringing his whole day forward slightly to settle him in an easier routine for school and bedtime, but I would try and keep more or less to the same timings as then their bodies adjust and are ready for sleep at the same times and wake up at a similar time (hopefully naturally) with an earlier bedtime.

HTH (a bit) ...good luck - frantic children at bedtime are just a nightmare so keep at it - you will sort it out - just takes perseverence and finding what works for you (for me it was to stop giving H the soft option and get firm!!!)

Title: Re: how do I handle bedtime?
Post by: Katet on November 11, 2006, 00:02:38 am
Jennifer, I'm thinking if he is getting up at 8am & having a nap, going to bed at 8 or 8.30pm is expecting a fair bit of sleep... at 2-3 yo the average is 12-13 hours total. So he is 2.5yo then 12.5 hours is about what you'd expect... so roughly 11 at night & 1.5 in the day. I know we found around the 2.5 yo mark that we needed a later bedtime if we wanted Aiden to keep napping KWIM

I know from your other post that you are having eating problems... can I say I'd be thinking about ditching the bottle esp at breakfast & giving him food (milkshake or smoothy? to start)... we went through a stage when Aiden didn't eat breakfast & to be honest he was a "brat"... lots of research points to a good breakfast making a huge difference to children's behaviour in school etc & milk really just isn't enough & maybe that "wrong food" is making it hard for him to have the energy.
Title: Re: how do I handle bedtime?
Post by: joaquinsmom on November 14, 2006, 18:09:53 pm
Thanks Kate!

That's really interesting about breakfast. I had been giving him a bottle as soon as he woke up, but the other day I offered some cereal instead and he was happy with that. I just have to get some more healthy breakfast stuff now and maybe that will have a good effect on both problems.

The sleeping thing has gotten a million times better in a short time!!! I was so afraid of trying wi/wo and now I regret not trying it before. It's been maybe 5 nights now since the last time I spent hours in his room. It wasn't even that bad. I have gotten a kind of routine going: I give both kids a bath, then take them to ds' room and get clothes on both of them and give them a bottle if they want it. Then I take dd to her room and give ds a book to read while I'm in there. Dd has been falling asleep pretty easily lately, although she does wake up a cople of times after ds is asleep. So then I go back to ds' room, we read a book, I turn off the lights, we say a prayer and then I tell him I have to go wash his bottles and I will be back. He always asks me to leave the door open, so I just make sure the lights in the hallway are turned off too and then walk out. He usually calls me a couple of times and I go over there and kiss him and tell him I'll be in the other room and will be back in a while and he ends up falling asleep on his own. Last night he did get up a couple of times asking to go to the bathroom but when I put him back in his room he didn't even ask me to stay anymore. He just hugged a little felt penguin that my sister gave him, and a little batman figure that my brother gave him and closed his eyes while I left. This is nothing short of a miracle. Seriously. I am so grateful for this. One step closer to a saner, non screaming mom!!! :)

Thank you all for your advice, hopefully this will continue getting better.
Title: Re: how do I handle bedtime?
Post by: woopster on November 14, 2006, 18:17:06 pm
Oh Jennifer, that is fantastic news!!  Give yourself a big pat on the back! 
Title: Re: how do I handle bedtime?
Post by: Florencia on November 15, 2006, 17:45:41 pm
I knew you could do this!!!!!! this is great news, just keep at the good job, cause some setbacks are to be expected but if you handle them as great as you've been doing, you're off to a wonderful road!!!!

Huge huge congrats, I know how good you must feel so far! and big rewards to Joaquin who's been a champ too!
Title: Re: how do I handle bedtime?
Post by: Katet on November 15, 2006, 21:31:04 pm
Well done Jennifer, I think our fear of them being really upset & things getting worse often seems to be a bigger stumbling block than the problem.
Title: Re: how do I handle bedtime?
Post by: joaquinsmom on November 16, 2006, 18:26:09 pm
Thanks for the words of encouragement!
I went out with some friends last night and dh stayed with the kids. I was out until 1:30 A.M  :o  (I was allowed out of my cage for 1 night...  ;D ) and dh said ds had just fallen asleep  :o  :o  So I'm kind of expecting trouble tonight but we'll see. I'm not going to stress about it.

Thanks again!
Title: Re: how do I handle bedtime?
Post by: Florencia on November 16, 2006, 18:37:26 pm
Hey Jennifer you're my hero, you have 2 kids under three, work full time, study AND have time and energy to go out with your friends!!!!!!!!!! I need a friend like you nearer me!!!! Good luck tonight!