Saturday, July 19, 2008

More on the bedtime battles

Whew. Thank you...and you....and you!

Thanks to all of you for once again sharing your thoughts and advice (and sympathy!) about bedtime. I know I've said it before, but it bears repeating: you guys rock! It's wonderful to know that I can hit "publish" on a post all about my latest struggles, and know that within hours I'll receive a bunch of different perspective and ways of looking at the situation. Seriously, how did people raise kids before the internet?! ;o) It doesn't take a village - it takes a blog community!

Anyway, instead of responding to everyone individually, I thought it be better to post a followup here.

To those of you that expressed familiarity with these bedtime struggles - I'm sorry! but I'm also secretly glad to know I'm not alone in this. The whole misery loves company deal. ;o)

Arizaphale your words - "You are a great Mum and you have a high maintenance toddler. The best and brightest ones often are!!" - were especially heartening to me. I do feel that Nadia has a very keen mind and her headstrong nature is a sign of her intelligence and potential. She's going to do great things one day - if we can just get past this frustrating stage! I keep reminding myself that what I call stubbornness now will one day be called persistence and it will be a good thing. Nadia's exuberance and zest for life is one of the things I love most about her - but also one of the most exhausting and challenging.

Our bedtime routine starts around 7:30. I have Nadia help me pick up her toys, then we change into pajamas and brush teeth. All 3 of us pile into in Mommy & Daddy's bed to read books: one new library book every night, which she is then allowed to bring with her to bed. After prayers she's off to bed by 8:00-8:15. She turns on her music and flower light herself, and I tuck her into bed. I have tried snuggling with her in her room for a bit, thinking it will help her to calm down more - plus, I crave snuggle time with my busy girl! - but she usually resists. By the time I'm at the door, she's back up and waiting to give me one more hug and kiss over the gate in her doorway. She goes back to the bed and does reasonably well for about 20 minutes, usually reading her book, but then the chaos and crying starts.

I love the idea of having her tuck her baby into bed, and in theory it sounds perfect. In practice it hasn't worked so well. We've done it with TedBear, but he hasn't been a very well behaved child and she hasn't been a very consistent mother. After two minutes, she has him up again. But since Ted is her constant companion, perhaps it would work better with a not-quite-as-special baby. I will move the doll cradle into her room and we'll give it a try - I'll let you know!

Closing the door doesn't work either. We've tried it, and it just turns into a new battle. I close it, she opens it. Over and over.

It doesn't work for me to stay in the room with her, either. As long as I'm there she stays riled up and will never go to sleep.

One thing that might work would be to threaten to take TedBear away. But I really, really hate to do that. It just feels wrong to me. Ted is her best friend and source of comfort, and I think it's good for her to know he's always there. But on the other hand, it would probably only take a couple times of losing him for her to get the concept. I don't know...I'll have to think about that more. I'm almost that desperate, but it just doesn't sit right with me.

She does sleep with us sometimes, and honestly we all like that. I have no problem bringing her the bed when she wakes up in the middle of the night (which is rare) and she goes right back to sleep no problem, but she doesn't do well falling asleep there in the first place. She just can't settle down and thinks our bed is for partying all night.

I said yesterday that before this, her room was "a kid's paradise crammed full of...well, all the junk that 2-year-olds accumulate." That is and is not true. She had plenty in there, but I don't think it was overwhelming. Dresser, bookshelf, chair, basket of stuffed animals, rocking horse, giant Pooh Bear. Most of her toys are in the living room. I had moved a few more toys into her room over the last month or so, as she's been enjoying playing in her room more and I wanted to encourage that. But it wasn't chaos central. And there was not a tv in her room, nor will there ever be. That's something I feel very strongly about.

Nadia is a kid that needs a nap. Without it she's a complete bear by late afternoon. There have been a few times she went on nap strike and I thought she might be giving them up, but she always went back to it. And she's almost always been a good napper, sleeping 2-3 hours each afternoon. Even if she didn't need the sleep, I still think it's important for her to have downtime each day - she needs the break and so do I! I don't even call it naptime anymore, I call it quiet time; I turn on her cd and once it ends (about 1.5 hours) she can get back up. I don't care if she falls asleep or not as long as she gets some rest, but as it is now she's not coming away from it refreshed. She has been exceptionally challenging these last few weeks, and I can't help but wonder how much of that can be attributed to poor sleeping.

This morning I asked Nadia, for the first time since moving her to the big girl bed, if she likes her bed or would rather have her crib back. Her face lit up and she immediately said "my crib!" I think that gives me my answer. I had wanted to avoid it, feeling that it's not a good idea to move backwards...but another part feels like I should go put her crib back together this very instant. She slept well there and she misses it. She has accepted most changes in her life quite easily but for whatever reason this is a big issue for her. So let her have it back! Who cares where she sleeps as long as she is sleeping and is happy. She's growing up too fast as it is. So I'll give it a few more days, and if it's still not working well I'm going to put the crib back together on Tuesday when I have a few Nadia-free hours.

Whew, that was long. I didn't even realize I had so much to say about this! The good thing is that writing it all out has helped me work through some of it in my own mind. But I kinda feel like I should write something totally off the wall here just to see if anyone actually made it to the end. ;o)

And thus ends my very loooong way of saying thanks for the advice and support. :o)


Maggie said...

I totally was late to the party and missed leaving a comment on the original sleep post. Oops.

I would be considered the sleep nazi by many. Once it's bed time, and the lights are out, I don't mess around. And I am not above taking comfort things away to get the point across - but I know that not everyone likes to do things that way.

I say that if putting the crib back is the thing that is going to bring sleep back to your house, then go for it. I think that while toddlerhood is a challenging and limit testing age, that children who are well rested are so much more tolerable than children who aren't. And I think that desperation for well-dispositioned toddlerhood would over-ride my desire not to put back the crib.

Good luck -- I hope that the sleep fairy graces your house VERY soon!

Corey~living and loving said...

Let me just say that just as I finished reading the words, "I can't help but wonder how much of that can be attributed to poor sleeping", and before I started the next paragraph, I thought in my head, "ask her about the crib!" NO joke.

In your situation, I think I would sit with N and say, "you of mommy's jobs is to make sure you are getting enough sleep. Without good sleep you can not grow healthy and strong. It sure seems to me like ever since we took down your crib, you haven't been getting enough sleep." (pause here and see what she says) Then you could go on with, "I am wondering if you think you might be able to fall asleep better if you hd your crib? what do you think?" (pause again for her answer)

I think it is important for you to convey to her WHY you want to bring the crib back. Make it clear that what has been happening with the not going to bed on time is not good for her, and how it is your job to take good care of her. so if need be....the crib will come back.

oh and I have once or twice removed a beloved stuffed animal from the room during nap because she wasn't settling down. I simply warned, "it looks to me like you are having trouble settling down. You are playing with baby elephant. Maybe I will have to take him with me." she said "no...i'll go to sleep!" five minutes later I went in there, and she was still playing, so I said, "I'm sorry honey, but baby elephant is not helping you sleep, so he is going with me!" She cried a bit, but was asleep in no time. When she woke up, I gave him back, and said, "I do hope next time baby elephant is able to settle down and help you fall asleep, don't you?" she smiled, hugged him and agreed.

it is hard, but it certainly is our job to ensure good sleep.
I absolutely do not think of bringing the crib back as punishment or even making her regress. It is just a bed. As long as you don't make it into something "for babies" it is just a bed. that is that.

hugs to you!

iheartchocolate said...

We are in the throws of this as well. Our 2 1/2 year old sleeps in a crib. I moved it one day and she totally flipped out. One side has been removed to transform to a toddler bed, but we keep that side agaist the wall. We tried to turn it around the other day and just go on as usual. She wasn't havin it. At all. 2 minutes and she was opening her door and telling us she was not going to bed. It was cute, but frustrating. She may be three before we try the transition, she is very attached to the crib and her blanket. She likes things to be constant..and gets very upset when we move her stuff. She also removes the sheets or blankets from under her, she wants to sleep on the bare odd..but it is what it is. These times are hard, but I know we won't even remember them a few years from now. Savoring every moment we can...Good luck to you. I say, bring the crib back if that is what she wants. Security is so important to them at this age.

HipMomma said...

I agree with both above. Go with what your mommy sense says. Hang in there. You'll look back on this someday and smile.

(Both of my girls have security blankets. I would never take them as punishment.)

Arizaphale said...

What a lot of sensible Mummy readers you have. I especially loved what Corey had to say. She is VERY cluey isn't she? I wouldn't worry about reinstating the crib. As everyone says, whatever works. The other thing is that at some point she is going to want to have a 'big bed' like her friends and the time will be right. I wonder about lights and music. Perhaps N is too sensitive to sensory stimulus? Maybe dark(er) and quiet would work better. I also want to direct you to a post by another bloggy friend but I'll have to go and find it first! :-)

Arizaphale said...

Here's the post I thought you might find interesting.

one method

carrie said...

I was waiting for your "something crazy" to make sure we all read it to the end! :-)

I think again, trust your instincts. If taking TedBear doesn't feel right - it probably isn't! (I can't imagine taking Bear or Blankie away from the girls!) and if putting the crib back together does feel right - I say do it!

Jaimee said...

I was late getting to your first post on this! But, I think everything you are thinking is right on track!

I wouldn't worry about giving her the crib back for one second...she won't fit in there for the rest of her life anyway! :) And, as arizaphale said, she will WANT that "big girl" like all of her friends some day.

I can already tell that Caden will likely be in his crib for a LONG time! As we've been here in San Antonio this week, he's been fighting bedtime by screaming for a LONG time every night/nap time and not sleeping as well because he isn't in his bed. And, I think he and Nadia have very similar personalities in a lot of ways!

Sleep is absolutely priceless! A well-rested toddler makes for a much happier toddler and a happier toddler makes for a MUCH happier mommy!

Susie said...

Oh, I hear you. Sleep is a fragile thing in our house. My kids are actually not so difficult to get down as keeping them asleep. So while I am not a sleep expert, I am a child development specialist. So here's my perspective. Going to bed is a separation for children. Not just physically - their own bed and room - but emotionally. Once they go to sleep - they are away from you. That is why even family bed kids have a hard time going to sleep. Plain and simple, some kids have a harder time saying "good-bye" more than others.

Bringing back the crib is not a step backward if this is Nadia's way of saying that she wasn't ready for this change. So if you can do it, it might be worth a try.

You may even want to change up which parent does the final "good-nights." In my house, we found that Daddy is really better at this - there is a lot less of the "one more kiss, drink of water, trip to the potty..."

I also agree that removing a nap is asking for more trouble. Toddlers need that rest and you will have a harder time getting her to sleep or having her sleep well if she gets over-tired. You may find too that once she gets better rest at night, she may shorten her nap a bit.

And finally, sometimes the bed-time routine is all about control. Some kids like to be in control which is why the routine is so important. And you are already giving her as much control as possible by having her turn on her light, etc. Sounds like for Nadia, it get hard once she has said "good-nite" and she's alone and still awake. Is there a book she can look at by herself for a few minutes, a flashlight she can hold and use if she needs it, etc.

Remember - this too is a stage and will pass. And soon, you will be missing how needy she is at bedtime. Sigh...

Tara@From Dawn Till Rusk said...

i feel your pain Christina. My little girl is a nightmare at bedtime and totally gives me the runaround. It's really tiring and wearing and I just keep telling myself "it's a phase! Please God let it be a phase!" We will come through the other end and then I'm pretty sure we'll all be wondering what all the fuss was about!

Jenn said...

I have to say I agree go with your mommy instinct - I think that to take her "lovey" away would not be a good idea, and could possibly hurt in the end - it's her comfort item, it's what she goes to when she needs a friend, or is scared - to take that away could hurt her in more than one way.

But then I still co-sleep, my son's 4 1/2 and while it's not perfect for everyone it works for us, thank God - he's NOT a good sleeper, never has been and gave up naps at 18 months, when he was not going to bed until 2 AM due to being "awake" so I stopped he goes down at 8 - I lay with him for about 15 minutes, and he's asleep for the night until around 7:30-9 sometimes later.

Trust your mommy instinct, if the crib will bring sleep back to your house, moving back till she's ready is NOT a bad thing - it's kinda like potty training when she's ready it will go FAST FAST FAST push it early and it takes LOTS of time and stress!


Golightly said...

I didn't get a chance to comment on your last post. Maybe because I didn't have any "new" advice or options to try.

But I will agree that if the crib will bring peace and rest - bring it back in. Remember how Harrison wasn't ready to give up the crib rail - and that was after he turned 3-years-old. I wasn't in a rush to move him. The crib rail is down again and the bed rail that was in it's place is also gone. he insisted on it's removal one day before he would take a nap and then that the crib rail go back up after nap. That was two weeks ago. He sleeps in the crib like a regular bad and hasn't fallen out yet. he was ready.

I don't think removing Ted Bear is the answer due to his relationship with her. But that is your call. Harrison choses a different toy every day and night for bed time, and on occasion I have to say, does such-and-such toy need to take a break from you so that you can get some rest? Sometimes he will say no, and go to sleep, sometimes he will ask me to set the toy aside for him.

Good luck!

Stacy said...

Ugh...we do these battles, too. I know you don't want to take TedBear away, but all it takes is a couple of times. Anya LOVES her taggie blankies and has one with her at all times. I've take them away a few times and all it takes now is the threat. I actually started throwing them all in a trash bag once and whipped it into the garage one day when she just wasn't going down. She was definitely upset, and YES I did let her have one back as long as she went to bed. Which she did. I know that may be more tough love than you want to do, but it does work. Threats don't work unless you carry through with them.

Amy said...

Ahhh. The bedtime battles. Fun stuff. We got into some bad habits with my Boog that took awhile for us to break, but after a lot of consistency (and a decnet amount of tears) now he's a good "going to bedder". It takes awhile, but I don't mind since I love the time together!)

I agree though, I would feel terrible taking away Boog's Ellie (the elephant if you didn't guess). No routine was worth that pain to me.

No matter what you choose, it'll work out though!

Amy (from Graco)

Colleen said...

I haven't read all of the comments... but all I really have to say is that you need to do what works for you and for Nadia. If the crib works... who does it hurt? Nadia will eventually want out... and when she's ready she'll be ready.

Like Nadia, Zoe has given us such an easy time transition from everything. She's given us so few issues. Our battle is the pacifier. She still has it to sleep... and gets it herself from her bed when she feels like she needs it. It's a rare thing... but I'm finding it's just not worth the fight.

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