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Question of the Week - You Be the Parent at Bedtime

A bloggy friend of mine does a really neat series of posts, which she calls You Be the Parent (her older posts were on her previous blog). It's like the Choose Your Own Adventures of parenting decisions. Not only do I like reading them and contributing to them, but I love to read everyone else's answers. It seems like a great way to get lots of opinions, as well as see where you are in the bell curve of people you know.

After approval for totally stealing borrowing the idea, I am doing an edition of You Be the Parent: Bedtime as my Question of the Week this week:

Although your three-year-old daughter has never gone to sleep easily, you worked hard over a couple of months to get her used to going to sleep on her own. You slowly weaned her from being cuddled and sang to in order to get to sleep, to sitting next to her and rubbing her back, to sitting across the room from her while she lied down by herself, to finally her going to sleep on her own without you in the room. To finally get her to do it by herself, you came up with a rewards chart, which had just started to work.

Then a few weeks ago, she stopped going to sleep by herself. In addition to having problems going to sleep, she has been quite a handful lately, and you suspect it might correspond to the sleeping issues. You are trying to re-wean her, and get her to stay in bed so you can start moving towards and then out the door. She is simply not ready to try the rewards chart and prizes at this point.

Bedtime has become miserable. It takes you 1 to 2 hours to get her to sleep, and it involves a lot of arguing, fighting, yelling and crying--and that's just on your part! Your daughter has occasionally hits and one time bit you! You are frustrated and dread bedtimes. Your partner is having an even worse time than you are.

You have spent 3 years and 4 months suffering through long, frustrating bedtimes with your kid. You are at your wit's end. Your husband thinks the process of weaning that worked before simply isn't working anymore. You both are wondering if a drastic change is needed, or if you should stay the course through this period of regression.

Do you:

A) Go back to lying in bed with her and singing her songs/telling stories to get her to sleep, in order to try to get her to sleep quickly and easily. It worked for a long time, it will likely work again.

B) Stay the course with weaning her from parents at bedtime by continuing to try to get her to stay in bed by herself until she is asleep. Eventually move away from the bed and reinstate the rewards chart to get out the door.

C) Try letting her stay up watching shows or playing quietly in her room until she is tired enough to go to sleep without a fight. She'll eventually fall asleep or climb into bed to pass out.

D) Sell her to gypsies or on eBay, whichever will take her first. See if they will also take the dog.

E) Other?

In the words of my friend, I eagerly await your input!

Comments

Shelby said…
I hear you, I hear you, I hear you. I say a combining A and B. We too had weaned from lying down with DS (2.75), but had never got to the point of leaving him alone. I got as far as the doorway or hallway. Then 2.5 regression. We've done Supernanny style, which is after story and singing, where they may cry but they have to stay on the bed, with you in the room, not answering any of their calls. You start out right next to their bed, only leaving to put them back on the bed. Usually takes 30-45 minutes, but I can read or work on the ipad, etc. No negotiating or it will turn into battle. Just don't answer. I'm not entirely there though, He ends up asking for water, being changed, etc., but it is still better than being bit (which I've also had too), arguing, etc. I usually say something like last request.

Or you could sell her to gypsies. :)
Jan said…
I'm the parent?

My first thought would be that she is getting an awful lot of your undivided attention for 1-2 hours every night with this behavior.

At 3 1/2 unless she is really really unusual anxious about separation, she probably does not need you there to go to sleep and it may even be hindering her.

If (C) works, that's what I'd do, with a caveat. Set up expected behavior (at my house it's In Your Bed and Quiet) and allowances (at my house it's books, small toys and a wind-up flashlight that lasts 45 minutes to an 1). Behavior deviates from expected, allowances decrease (at my house if you're too noisy, you get one warning/reminder and the second time, Mommy comes and takes the car away and now you don't have it to play with).

Shelby's totally right, though, that you have to do it with no real interaction. The interaction is the reward, even if the interaction consists of something unpleasant like yelling. (Not, of course, that I would EVER yell. *ahem*)

If I'm the parent, though, this technique does involve some leaving the child to cry when she is not getting her way. You've posted before that this is off the table for you, so maybe it's a non-starter.

My younger kid is, right now, in a stage where with no nap he is a basket case by 6 p.m., but with a nap he doesn't fall asleep until 9:30ish regardless of when we put him down. We're going with the latter, and he is allowed to look at books and play with his little cars until he feels sleepy. We also allow him to get up if he needs to go to the bathroom (obviously) or if he needs the reassurance of seeing that we are just downstairs or down the hall. If we see him, we just smile and say, "hi buddy, time for bed" and that's enough and he goes back in his room. I've heard other people have gotten the same sort of results with leaving the kid's bedroom door open so he can hear the parents, but if we do that, our animals drive him crazy, so bedrooms doors are always shut for sleeping at our house.

I hope this last paragraph doesn't offend; it's not meant to. It might, in my opinion, be time for you to revisit your no-crying policy. 3 1/2 is not a helpless infant anymore, incapable of understanding that mommy is still there, even if mommy isn't Right Here. I think it sounds like she might be yanking your chain a little, even if subconsciously.

P.S. If you find gypsies that will take her, please send me their card. I have a 6-year-old whose sassy mouth makes me cringe at the thought of the teen years. Oy.
Katie said…
D. :)

Seriously: go back to A. When you get a window, start B again.
caramama said…
@Jan - She cries plenty with and without us there. The reason there is no option to just leave her in bed crying is because she simply will. not. stay. We've tried many ways to get her to stay in bed or even in her room, but haven't been able to come up with a way that she can't get around.
After Words said…
I am going through this EXACT same thing with my 3 year old....bedtime is awful and when she is finally asleep (last night, around 9:30) she still wakes up a zillion times a night.

I stole an idea from Pantley that was working for awhile--she has a "special" bed in our room that she can sleep in if she gets scared sleeping in her room--but now when she's in our room she has unending requests in the middle of the night: she needs help with the blanket or she needs her doll or the other doll or her magic wand, etc.

I am thisclose to putting a lock on her door (though I've said that for months and never been able to bring myself to do it.

Looking forward to reading the responses here.
paola said…
You just described my daughter's sleep (she is exactly 3.5). we haae had a slight improvement in her sleep in the last week or so and I don't kow if this is due to the technique we are using or she has just been thru a developmental spurt because she is much easier to reason with recently and the frequency of her tantrums has flattened out.

The problem has always been putting her to bed. She seems to go into panic mode with me at bed time needing to see me one last time, or tell me one last thing. But it goes on and on and on, sometimes for an hour. The night before last hubby was home ( he is not usually home when the kids go to bed) and when she came out looking for me, he told her I had gone for a wlk and I wasn't available. She sulked and and kept on asking for me, but eventually went back to bed and only came out another time to check if I was around. The night after when I was putting her to bed I told her I was going for a walk and I wouldn't be there so if she need someone there was only daddy. She didn't even bother getting out of bed that night. And the same last night. She seems to be so much less anxious knowing that I won't be physically able to be there for her. I only hope hubby continues getting home around 8 for bed time.

As far as waking up goes, we have cut back her night visits to one or two a night, sing this technique. My kids love the shopping centre rides ( you know the horse and car rides with tokens). Every time we go to the shopping center they go on a couple ( seeing they are ridiculously cheap). Anywya I bought a handful of tokens last time I was there and told Zoe that if she didn't come visit me during the ngiht I would give her and her brother one token each to use the next time we ent to the shops. The first night, she visited us once, the next night she actully slept the whole night in her bed. She got another token a couple of nights ago too, which they spent today. I bought another lot of tokena and let them play with them a bit in the hope that it will get the message across even more. We'll see tonight.

Anywya to answer your question i'd go with a). I am resorting to something similar at nap time ( I still need her to nap as I think she would be far more difficult without a nap) I won't do it a bed time as I know she will expect it when she wakes up during the night. So far, she goes back to bed easily when she does wake, but I don't want to push fate too much

Good luck. It is a rotten phase and I am expecting it will get worse again before getting better.
Amy said…
None of the above. Explain how she's to go to sleep on her own, and you'll give her lots of hugs/kisses and snuggles and then you'll leave. Then put up a baby gate in her door. Get a glass (or three) of wine, and go sit on the front porch for an hour. Or two.

It's kind of a commando style approach, but it sounds like she's trying to control you with her bedtime antics. She's old enough at 3 to understand the rules. My daughter is the same way, although the gate didn't work - she knocked it down. Instead I turned her door knob around and locked her in. It was a last resort and not fun for either of us, but we were both miserable to be around after not sleeping. It worked, and now she stays in her bed and goes to sleep without a problem.

And we are both much more pleasant during the day!
I might get "poo-pooed" for this, but I'm gonna comment anyway :)
I have 10 & 12 y/o boys who still have a tuck-in ritual that lasts about 15 minutes for each. I wouldn't trade it for the world. My 12 y/o has become a tween with nearly both feet in the teen years,and these 15 minutes offers a world of insight into his ever changing world. He tells me about his day and shares freely of his prepubescent concerns regarding girls and his lack of muscles. lol My 10 y/o usually tells me about all the big ideas he has for inventing the next super-mega-thing-a-ma-bob. I love getting a glimpse in their not-so-little-anymore minds.
Both kids have been on sleep-overs and even sleep away camp, so I know they don't "need" our tuck-in ritual as a sleeping aid.
When they were younger, the ritual was more like 20+ minutes, but honestly, I think keeping the evening bonding sessions has been great for our relationships as they've changed and matured over the years. I know that some day the kids will say a simple hug or even just a shout-out will suffice for the good night ritual. Until then, we'll be sticking with the nightly bonding time! As with everything in parenting, you have to know what works for both you (the parent) and your child. This is what works for us :)
For the record, I did use the Ferber method when the boys were around 6 months of age. It worked like a charm and only took moments with each. It's not for everyone, but for us, at that time, it was perfect.
songbird said…
I'd re-read Ferber's sleep book for ideas. He has a chapter on CIO but many more chapters on other things. It's worth a read.

Have you tried Moxie's troubleshoot-with-the-three-year-old technique? (Or maybe it was hedra?) The one where you say, "This is my problem. This is your problem. How can we solve both our problems?" and see what she comes up with? I mean, considering how contrary she's being it might not help, but you might get a bit more to the bottom of why she's so resistant. Does she think she's missing out on fun? Is she actually not tired? Ferber, by the way, recommends if you're going to do any kind of letting-the-kid-cry that you start the whole thing much later than their usual bedtime to minimize the amount of time they can physically be awake and crying. The point is to get them to sleep, not get them to cry.
songbird said…
Oh, and with the baby gate: Ferber recommends two, one on top of the other, for older kids.
Kristina M said…
I would do whatever it took to keep her in that room and take the 1-2 hours of parent interaction out of the picture. I would explain that day, multiple times what is going to happen that night so she is not completely unaware that things will change. I would choose this method because I do believe in Ferbers' behavioral training methods, even for the older child. I believe that daytime behavior is strongly tied to how much sleep a child is getting and that some of pumpkin's behavior is linked to that. But my observations and opinions are based on limited observations, what methods make sense to me plus I don't have an older child like Pumpkin.
Melba said…
Hrm.

I agree with @Jan that she is getting waaaaay to much attention at bedtime. I think that all the attention for undesireable behavior is adding fuel to the fire. Easy for me to say, I know.

And I agree with @Kristina and @Amy that you've got to set limits and get out of that room and keep her in. I'm not saying cut out the bonding time at bedtime, as I agree with @The Whimsical Fig that the bedtime routine and bonding is important and can be a real special time. But cut it down to 15-20 mintues. A story, or a song, or whatever you do, tuck in, talk about things (we talk about our day over here, helps Rosie wind down), maybe a hug/kiss/snuggle for a bit, say your I Love You's and Goodnight and leave. Lock the door or use a baby gate and prepare for hours of mayhem for the first few nights.

If you can't stand the screaming or you hear banging and wonder if she's hurling furniture around and might hurt herself, then by all means go in. Go in as often as you feel you need to, but always say the same thing - it's bedtime, go to sleep, I love you, see you in the morning, and leave. She will eventually fall asleep, even if it takes hours.

Anyway I think its worth a try, and if a week goes by with zero improvement, then abandon it. But this works for Rosie. I don't stay in her room with her, and there are nights I leave her in a screaming tantruming mess. But we have a rule here - I don't sleep in your bed or lie with you while you sleep, and vice versa. Kids are allowed to come into my bed after it's morning time, for morning talks and cuddles. But never for sleeping. I'm so not a cosleeper.

Anyway, that's just my opinion... no offence to anyone who cosleeps or doesn't like CIO techniques or whatever, but that's just what works best for me and my family.

A thousand good lucks. 1-2 hours is just so long.... I feel for you!
Cloud said…
OK, I'm going to post my answer before I go back and read your other comments.

I have two thoughts:

1. I think there is a big developmental leap at 3.5- maybe the understanding of false beliefs? It is described in Bedtiming, and I don't have that with me. I just remember reading it and thinking "oh boy, 3.5 sounds like a bunch of fun. Gee, I can't wait."

So the "everything just went to hell" aspect of life right now may be due to that. Maybe if you read up on what is going on, it will give you some ideas for how to approach things? For instance, I know my 9 month old is going through the classic separation anxiety phase right now, so we're dealing with her sudden sleep issues from the standpoint that she is freaking out about her parent(s) disappearing, and looking for solutions that take that into account.

2. Have you tried discussing the issue with her? My 3.25 year old had developed a thing where she could only poop on her little potty, not the big potty. One day, I just happened to say to her "it would be really nice if you pooped on the big potty, because then I wouldn't have to clean it up." And ever since, she has used the big potty. I am dumbstruck. I wasn't even trying to address the problem yet- I hadn't figured out HOW I'd address the problem. Now she even talks about how she's using the big potty to help Mommy and Daddy.

Anyway, my point is- they understand more than we realize at this point. And they can totally surprise us sometimes. So maybe you could talk things through with your Pumpkin and try to figure out why she's freaking out, and maybe get some new ideas.

Failing that? I'd probably go with (a) and look for my next chance to start the weaning process again. I might look for some way to avoid going all the way back- for instance, when my daughter (who is also fairly new to the "falling asleep on her own" skill) cries for me and needs company, I don't lay back down with her. I'll kneel by her bed if she needs my hair, I'll hold her hand, I'll tell her favorite story again... but I don't generally lay back down.

Good luck. She'll go to sleep on her own eventually.
Cloud said…
Oh, reading the other comments reminded me- anytime I do anything that might mess with sleep, I move bedtime later for a night or two, so that I have a sleepy kid. I did this when we took the binky away and when we instituted the "go to sleep on your own" thing.

Does she like stuffed toys? Have you offered to buy her a brand new one for bedtimes? That was the magic for us. Incidentally, Outside the Crab (our magic toy) soon fell into disfavor, but he did his job, as far as I'm concerned.
Anonymous said…
e. send her to her aunt's bedtime bootcamp for a few days (a week)

: )

you know the twins spazzed on bedtimes a couple months ago, so i have no high vantage point to advise you down my nose, iykwim.

The tokens were the answer for us (this time, who knows what the next time will require), but then we've had them pretty bedtime-trained since babyhood.

I like the ida of a baby gate on the doorway, and a very frank, simple talk along the lines of: We love you, but this situation isnt normal. you're going to get used to falling asleep on your own, and this will help by keeping you SAFE in your room but still able to know the rest of the family is here.

THEN DO NOT GET HER OUT, PERIOD (ahem except to pee).

Talk to her over the fence, if you have to. give her a hug and a kiss.. over the fence. think of it as a crib rail. Let her fall asleep half strewn over the bookcase, if that's where she ends up.

Earplugs. Alcohol. and maybe me coming over a few nights?? It doesnt have to be mean to be firm.

the only thing keeping you from 100% sure success is the other nipper. maybe you can arrange something with the grandparents for him a couple nights one weekend.

Not saying its easy, only that it's possible. My advice generally is this: Gird your loins, OR... "give up" and prepare to continue cosleeping on and off with her til some future time (for our eldest it was age 6 or 7)

i'll help, if you need me. she can come over here for a week, that might work. Londo would owe me a -lot- more photoshop work, though. ; D
Anonymous said…
one more comment (sil again)

something struck me when ares was a pup and we had our first thunder storm... i remembered very well how your mom's 2 dogs both reacted to the rain (shiver/hide/whine) AND i remembered reading that most reactions to rain are TRAINED to be that way. the first shiver as as pup gets the reward "oh baby, its ok, hug/pet" and that leads to more shivers and more petting until yu have a dog that's learned not only is being afraid of thunder ok, it's rewarding. So when we hit that first thunderstorm, i sat outide with him on the covered porch, and every couple times it thundered i'd smile and hug him and go "yeaaaha!!!!" and when i wasnt doing that i wasnt reacting at ALL to the thunder. no fear displayed after that, no matter what the weather.

Kids are animals too! She's doing this bedtime dance in part because she's always done it, and sees no reason to stop. She's never had to get herself to sleep regularly because you guys rescue her, or at least face the time together, and that's just how it's been. Retraining is about as fun as training, only with stuff to unlearn, but it can be done!
Charisse said…
C - and other strategies to get her more tired at bedtime. Because it sounds to me like you have a kid who's not that tired, wants to be with you (because she's not that tired and it's nice), and is going to bed because you tell her it's time but doesn't feel sleepy and doesn't want to be in a dark room by herself, fully awake. Which isn't nuts.

So: Is she definitely getting plenty of exercise every single day? Like, a lot more than she needed when she was smaller? By 3ish, Mouse needed a swimming lesson plus a couple hours on the playground to be good and tired.

Is she napping? It may be time to revisit that again if she is. At least restrict it to short ones, maybe?

Is her bedtime inappropriately early for her? You could potentially knock an hour off the whole mess just by saying it's 9 instead of 8...and if she's never tired at 8, that might be the right thing. You'd have to rethink your evening to have her awake for more of it, but you're gonna have to do that one day anyway...

One final thought: have you ever asked her why? One of the most instructive chats I ever had with Mouse was around 10:45 when she was still not effing asleep and I finally said "WHY don't you want to go to sleep???"...and she told me. And it was something we could help with.

More hugs!
mom2boy said…
I agree with later bedtime and more exercise but I totally understand why both of those things are hard to manage with two kids and two working outside the home adults. It's hard for one adult and one kid to manage.
I still do the lay down with Tate thing. It takes a good hour but by the 30 minute mark if he isn't mostly being quiet and still I give him a warning and then get up and leave. I invariably get back in his bed but he will then be quiet and fall asleep. But there is a 30 minute cap on books, stories, talking, etc. because there has to be a me/him need balance.
Shui said…
Hmm. Bed time is an ordeal at our place too - but the Moo is only 6 months. I'm reading the comments with interest for future reference...

Anyway, taking into account I have no hard won experience in the area - I like the sound of C & the suggestions about asking the question of why won't you go to sleep? Also - I think there may be some value in getting a non- parent involved to help set a new pattern. (by non parent I mean an adult other than you or Londo, not someone who has no children) My sole data point for this
theory is that a few nights sleep over with my parents was
used to wean my cousins 3 year old off her bedtime bottle of milk. She had been very resistent to giving it up at home but somehow when her great aunt just suggested she didn't need it because she was a big girl having a sleepover by herself it was all fine. (but I know at that age
someone still had to lie with her after lights out because I
did it a few times & at 5 she's sometimes still co sleeping
at least part of the night when visiting my parents)

I guess what I'm trying to say is maybe another adult might
help as a circuit breaker? Maybe just to have the conversation about why bedtime is so hard - without the emotional investment you have?

PS this is my first comment, but I've been lurking reading your blog for a while - it's been helpful as a new mom to hear about life in the trenches! Thanks.
I'd stick with a combo of B & C. We've had success with Monkey and both of those methods. Except for C, we tell him to play quietly in bed with a few toys we permit him to take in with him. If he gets to rowdy with his play, we go in and remind him it's quiet time before sleepytime.

Hopefully something someone has suggested here will have you and Londo snoozing the night away soon.
Jac said…
Also voting a combo with B and C. We tell DS he doesn't have to go to sleep but he does have to stay in his bed and be quiet. He's allowed books and small toys in there. We leave his bedroom door open, but if he makes a fuss for any reason, or gets out of bed, we shut the door until he's back in bed and quiet. He HATES having the door shut. It only took a couple of nights of being hard-ass on that point for him to get the picture.

Also, when we leave, we tell him that we'll come back to check on him and then we do. At first, it was after 5 minutes, we'd go back and give him a fresh hug and a kiss and tuck-in. Then we stretched the time out. So now, he's in bed at 7:30, usually gets a check-in around 7:50, and again 20 mins later if he's not asleep. I think the key is that we do it on our terms. If he acts up, we don't respond, we just shut the door until he's in bed and quiet.
Lucy said…
Dear Caramama, I have just started reading your blog, having seen your comments on Ask Moxie.

My 4.5 and nearly 2 year old do best after we do a huge jumping around / chasing / "rough-and-tumble" / highly physical play in their room, that involves lots of jumping on the sofa.

This happens just before bedtime, when they go through a 'wired' period anyway, which actually means that they are tired.

Then after that it's stories.

In many ways it seems counter-intuitive to be increasing energy levels just before bedtime, but it really seems to help.

Oh, and so far the 6 months from 3.5 - 4 years has been the hardest time.

Oh, and it seemed to help explaining that we do chores after the kids are in bed, and the one time he came down to investigate, I was on my knees scrubbing the floor and my husband was washing dishes!
hush said…
I honestly don't know, but I feel your pain totally. Tonight our 2.75 year old DS refused to go to bed after hours of the standard bedtime routine bullshit we've been doing. DH finally yelled at him and said "Time to go to bed! We did x, y, and z for you to go to bed! No other kid your age is up this late!!!" It sucked. And now I realize that my DH got the last part wrong. Loads of preschool age kids pull this same stuff!

You have a spirited child alright, as do I. The usual stuff isn't going to work. So you may as well reclaim your time if you can, and drop the 1-2 hours of bedtime routine for a few nights and see how it goes. If you have the same result (non-sleeping kid) then maybe you can stop spending your time on it. Again, I really don't know. Maybe embrace the chaos and do whatever it takes to eke out some time for yourself.
It sounds to me like a transition object -- maybe an audio recording of you reading a story, or a new stuffed animal you pick out together, or something -- might be another possibility. Reinforce it with some sort of talk about how "mommy and daddy can't be right in your room, but X will remind you that we're not far away at all, and we're always here to make sure you're safe."

I'd combine it with the least engaging parent (and the one who finds it easiest to be firm) does bedtime. Which may be super painful for a few nights (or weeks) but I think just might pay off.

Try to see if there are any specific fears that are bothering her about being alone at bedtime, and address them. It was at about this age that I was scared of monsters, and my dad found a way to convince me that I didn't have to be. Of course, getting a three-year-old to explain their feelings is tricky, to say the least...

Otherwise, I'd go with option D. (Just kidding.)
paola said…
The problem with letting my kid cry/carry in order to wear herself down to sleep is that she will wake up later on REALLY PISSED OFF, and it is much more difficult to settle her and convince her to go back to bed. If I can calmly convince her to stay in bed without resorting to shutting the door or whatever else, she is more likely to sleep thru the night, or at least wake less often.

I'd like to try some other suggestions (the gate sounds like it could work for us), but my daughter shares a room and her antics are already hard enough on her bro as it is. If I let her cry in the middle of the night for example, there would be 4 people awake instead of just the two of us.

Oh and this phase is when kids finally achieve 'theory of mind'. They realise that people ( Mum?) think differently to them and this creates a lot of insecurities for the child. Isabela's blog 'Child of MInd' has a bit of theory about this stage, but alas nothing practical for helping kids get back to sleep. Going on my daughters last half years, I'm giving this phase 6 months. She should be back to 'normal' for her 4th birthday.
Kristina M said…
What time is her bedtime?
MommyEm said…
B sounds good to me. You know that she can do it and was progressing, so maybe just "staying the course" will create a new routine over time. I know that it takes Dorothy awhile to be ready for something new, and she always transitions better when she does it herself than when we push something for which she isn't ready.

Two ideas that others brought up are intriguing - the idea that she is using this time for more attention/facetime with you and Londo, and that she doesn't know any other routine than this difficult one in relation to bed. Perhaps worth exploring?

Another thought - Pumpkin is a smarty pants and always listening, so maybe a consistent conversation about your expectations of bedtime during the day will plant the seed change. Thus making it her idea and much more appealing than what you and Londo are "'ordering" her to do. Giving her that much desired control that our three-year-olds seem to need.

Good luck with the tactic you choose!
songbird said…
You could also try bargaining along the lines of "I'll stay with you as long as you lie down in the bed with your eyes closed, otherwise I'm leaving" kind of thing.
Becoming Mommy said…
E.) Because we had a problem for a good while with Sasha, and once and a while we have the Return of the Holy Terror. (to include biting, hitting, and spitting).

What I do is I leave him throwing a fit in his room, turn out his light, and shut the door. I go about my business of the evening and getting ready for bed myself to give him ample time to chill.

When I'm ready to go to bed, I'll stop by his room and ask him if he's ready to behave. If not, he can tantrum himself into passing out. If he is, we do the story, prayers and snuggles.

Either way, he learns pretty quickly that I do not tolerate that kind of behavior and he can either be a gentleman about the bedtime and have a nice one, or be a turd and get treated like one.
Dedybear said…
I am not sure what I would do if I had the chance to change now, but I can tell you what we have done.

A) This was part of our solution. With Matthew wanting to come back into our bed, and the new one keeping Claire up, I manned up to take on the responsibility of the toddler. So, I lay with him, and have banned Claire from his bedroom, in hopes that we can night ween him. So far, this has given me 2 weeks of sleepless nights.

B) Tried this. Getting up to move into my own bed ended up meaning that I was awake while waiting for him to sleep, creeping out of the room after he was finally asleep, and then shortly there after, running back in to put him back to sleep. This ended up allowing me no sleep.

C) Matthews sleep is even worse after TV. After getting him to tell me a bit about it, he says that his mind has too many things in it that he would like to do in the day, and he doesn't want to sleep cause he doesnt want to miss anything. TV shows him even more stuff he could be doing, and reminds him of stuff he has already done. TV + bedtime = disaster.

D) Shipping is prohibitive.

E) Moxie had a good post on this, tips like:
1) Try making the room warmer.
2) Try making the room cooler.
3) Try turning on a nightlite.
4) Try turning off a nightlite.

Really hit the nail on the head with those tips. Translation: Who really knows...

Please let me know if you widdle out a definative answer.

Marco
Now, don't get the dog all wrapped up in this! :)
Jan said…
I have a bedtime ritual with my kids, too, and I hope it lasts until their teen years. Sometimes it's my favorite half hour of the day. We started it when my older one was about 4 months old (though obviously it's morphed over time).

You know, the auntie-boot-camp might not be half bad idea. Is there a trusted caregiver that could "do" bedtime for a few nights? That could set up the routine and then you could give it a try with a caveat along the lines of "mommy can put you to bed if you follow the rules, but if you won't, then we'll have to go back to [caregiver] doing it until you decide to cooperate with mommy."

I feel like I come across so harsh when I write about this stuff, but to me sleep is SO important. Bedtime nonsense is as non-negotiable at my house as, say, sitting in the car seat or holding my hand when we cross a busy street.

If I'm the parent, I enforce one very specific rule absolutely: When it's bedtime, we stay in bed and try to sleep. The details are up to the kids -- I tolerate reading, playing, listening to music, getting up to go to the bathroom, even checking on mommy and daddy -- but I do what I have to do to enforce the "bedtime is bedtime" rule. My kids have both gone through phases where bedtime is 7:30, but I know they don't actually sleep until 9, and that's fine.

This won't help you at all now, but you did say you hoped this might create a little repository for some sleep solutions, so I will tell you that I think our one bit of inspired parenting around this is that when we moved from crib to bed, we did it before the kids could get out of the crib themselves. The "big boy/girl" bed was a special awesome treat and only for kids that can be responsible enough to follow the rules. You climb out of your big boy/girl bed to play around, that shows me you aren't ready for the responsibility and I'll put you back in your crib. We watched on the video monitor and the minute they got out we walked in and silently moved the crib mattress from toddler bed to crib, placed the child in the crib, kissed goodnight and that's where they were for the night. It took exactly one application of this consequence to convince my daughter. With my son it took 2 or 3.

We've all heard the saying about choosing your battles with kids. It's usually used to remind us not to get too caught up in the little things that don't really matter that much, but I think it's equally important to remember that if you're going to pick a battle, you better be prepared to see it through. Is there some chance you're sort of conflicted as to whether this is a battle you've chosen? If you are, I wonder if your daughter has picked up on this (mine absolutely would) and, sensing your lack of resolve, is pushing that much harder to get her way? Maybe some introspection is in order -- what is it that you really care about in this situation? Where is the bottom line for you?

Does that make sense at all?

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