Monday, July 6, 2009

Bedtime Difficulties

Bedtime used to be my favorite time of day. Not only because it meant that I was finally going to get some peace and quiet, but because it had a routine and a structure that involved cuddling and reading books and singing songs and just having an enjoyable and relaxing end to the day. Lately, it hasn't quite been going like that and often involved one or both kids crying and multiple trips back into their rooms.

I just want to take a short trip back in time to remember the early days of bedtime routines. Let's start with Big. In my quest to be the most informed new mother ever (ha!), I read a million different books and websites and generally ignored a lot of what I read. But, the one thing that I bought into was the idea that even a little tiny baby needs some sort of routine and is comforted by knowing what is going to happen next. It doesn't matter what time the routine happens, but if the baby knows that once he has a bath, next he's getting a bottle and hearing a song and then he's going to sleep, then when he goes in the bath he is already planning for what is coming next and knows that sleep will soon follow.

The routine we had with Big was very simple and started probably as soon as we brought him home from the hospital: bath, pajamas, read Goodnight Moon on the rocking chair in his room, nurse/bottle, sing some songs and into the crib to sleep. I will freely admit that in the beginning, he would fall asleep on me and then wake up as soon as I'd put him down so fine, maybe the routine didn't always go so smoothly!!

As he got older, the routine never changed significantly, we moved on from Goodnight Moon to other books, the bottle turned into a sippy cup, but the general idea of bath, book, bed stayed on and worked. Sometimes there would be negotiations over how many books or which books, but there was hardly ever any serious crying or fighting.

Then we threw Little into the mix when Big was almost 2 and a half. We kept up Big's routine as best as we could, but it was Little who sort of got the shaft. We'd bathe them together (Big in the big tub and Little in the baby bath on the floor next to him) and then Little would lie in the crib while Big was getting his pj's on and having books read to him. The plan being that then Little would be held and read Goodnight Moon, etc. But Little would often just fall alseep waiting. So, he never learned the routine. Although, I guess his routine just became bath and bed and he didn't really know the difference.

At some point, we seem to have given up on the books altogether. Now, bedtime consists of us realizing that Little MUST go to sleep when he starts hitting and kicking and acting like the overtired little toddler that he becomes at about 6:30 or 7:00. Then fighting with him to actually go to bed, maybe reading him books (it's only recently that he's begun asking for this and even sitting still to listen), bringing him 3 cups of milk (yes yes, I know that is a bad habit). All of this happens while Big is watching tv or playing Hot Wheels games on the computer. Then, when Big is told it's time for bed, he immediately bursts into tears at the unfairness of it all since he didn't get to finish his game (that he's played a million times) or watch enough tv (even though he's been watching for the past hour or more). Then there's more fighting and crying and threats of no books and then maybe reading a book and then discussions about needing to sleep alone in one's bed versus having a parent stay there all night.

And then, finally, quiet. At least until a little voice screams "MORE MILK" or "I NEED TO PEE" or "I CAN'T SLEEP ALONE IN MY BED" or "WHERE IS MY BROWN BEAR?" or "IT'S TOO NOISY."

I think we need to get back into a real bedtime routine. I think (hope) it would make the evenings feel less stressful. What's bedtime like in your house? Any suggestions??


Commenter Abbi said...

Emily, your blog looks great! Sorry it's taken me awhile to get to it. I've been packing all week for our trip on Sunday.

About bedtime: All my kids are in one room. Most of the time it works fine and they're actually all used to going to bed together now.

I usually put Eli down first at around 7:30. The girls are up till 8,and go down with or without a book. But in the beginning, I often put one girl in the room and another to fall asleep in our bed, because it was just too hard. Sometimes I just let them be really wild in their room for about 15 minutes, to get it out of their system.

Tehila still has a routine of coming out of bed to tell me "one more thing" if she doesn't fall asleep immediately. I generally tell her one more thing and that's it and generally don't act all that interested, to discourage the habit.

So i don't have a whole lot of suggestions, other than maybe trying to put little down first or separating them for the falling asleep part (I've never allowed all night sleeping in our bed, so coming into our bed has never really been a problem).

Good luck!

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