Friday, March 30, 2012

The Demon At Bedtime

Oh, good lord, I need help.

A little over a month ago, we transitioned our two-year-old (33months) to a big girl bed.  She was sharing a room with the baby, but she was being so disruptive that we thought it would be easier if she shared a room with Sissy because she's older, and could set a great example at bedtime.  Well, it has been a month of utter hell.

Peanut will NOT stay in bed.

Not. At. All.

Over the past six weeks, I have tried every possible technique I could find for transitioning a child to a big bed.

We have tried the Super Nanny technique, wherein you never speak to the child, or make eye contact, just put them back in bed and walk out...except she follows me out.  No sooner have I closed the door, then it is open again.  If she doesn't open the door and come out, she just gets up and turns the light on and gets out toys.  Since she is sharing a room with her sister, it is majorly disruptive, and sometimes Sissy will be in tears because she's tired and Peanut will not go to sleep.  We just kept not talking and putting her back in bed, and she just keeps right on coming out.  It goes on for HOOOOUUUURS.

We tried Ferber.  I have spent hours sitting on the floor outside her bedroom door trying to wait her out.  Last night, I was there for almost two hours, hadn't heard a peep, got up, went downstairs...and there she was, right behind me.  Tonight was much the same, but instead of following my husband downstairs, she went into the baby's room and turned the light on, waking her up.  The Ferber method seems a battle of wills between who can sit quietly the longest.  So far, she wins.

Because Peanut is little, she still takes an afternoon nap.  I thought maybe it was keeping her from being sleepy at night, so I tried eliminating it.  First, she's a perfect little shit without a nap.  A screaming, tantrum throwing tyrant, to be exact.  And inevitably, she'd just go downstairs and sneak into my bedroom and fall asleep on my bed at about  o'clock PM, thus making bedtime an even more distant dream.  So i just cut her nap back.  I let her get good and cranky and then, after lunch, I let her sleep for about 45 minutes and then get her up.  But, hey, guess what?  It didn't work.  At all.  She's just as much awake, right now, at 10:30 at night, as she was with a two hour nap, or no nap at all.

I have tried various bedtime routines, bath before bed, no bath before bed.  Reading books before bed, not reading books.  Lullabies, different pj's, raising the thermostat, lowering the thermostat... I still can't find the sweet spot for a sleepy Peanut.

And because I am not perfect, I will also admit I have tried other Awesome Mom methods like screaming, bribing, cajoling, begging, pulling my hair out, and...yes, spanking.  All to no avail.  I cannot, for the life of me, get this child to sleep.  Not in a crib, not in a bed.  We have changed the bedtime routine.  We have tried putting her to bed at the same time as sissy, and we've tried putting her to bed hours before.  None of it matters.  Tonight, Sissy is actually sleeping in Bubba's room because she has an early soccer game and she needs a good night's sleep!!  Also, I was curious if she would do better in a room on her own.  I guess, if worst came to worst, we could rearrange the whole upstairs again and put her in her own room so at least she isn't disrupting everyone else, but it seem she's going to do that anyway.  God forbid I have to pee while she's still up, because she will hotfoot it as fast as possible into all the other rooms, turning lights on and and waking up everyone else.

So, I need help.  I need the demon to sleep.  How do I get that precious, sweet, smart, adorable, angelic DEMON to GO TO BED?!?!?!   Please, PLEASE, fill my comments with your wonderful mommy suggestions.  I need them.  My sanity is rapidly waning.  And I'm tired.  I want to go to bed!  


Ariel said...

I am not a parent, but I am and have always been a TERRIBLE sleeper. When I was little, I had a really hard time taking naps or going to bed at bedtime. I just remember being very, very bored, and found it really difficult to just sit there doing nothing when I wasn't tired at all. Even as an adult, I don't sleep too much. I don't know what the best solution for you is, but my mom let me listen to story tapes or soothing music (she wouldn't let me listen to Michael Jackson at bedtime because his music was too energetic). I still sit in a rocking chair with my iPod when I can't fall asleep sometimes (I did that last night, in fact). I know listening to a story/music would be disruptive with them sharing a room, though. But it did work well for me. I'll have to ask my mom if she did anything else to get me to sleep.

Jill Couri said...

I am so sorry, my friend! I don't know that I have altogether good advice for you about actually getting your precious girl to sleep. Just an idea, though: (and again, this would probably be disruptive to the other kiddos) but perhaps, let her watch a movie as she's trying to fall asleep? Kelly sometimes uses this technique to shut his brain off...he'll watch something that he's seen a thousand times and zone out on it and fall asleep doing it. This seems like a crap idea b/c of everything we hear about TV at bedtime but perhaps it's worth a shot? I will be praying for your sanity and for Peanut's sleepiness!

leiamarie82 said...

Like Ariel, I have my entire life been one of those people who doesn't need to normal amount of sleep. When I was little, my parents left the lamp on and told me to turn it out when I was done reading--yes, even when I was two. Of course, if she doesn't have her own room, that might not be a possibility.

I have a friend whose older two children refuse to sleep in their beds, and with a baby+two kids, their bed was just getting too crowded, so now the baby sleeps in his crib unless he's nursing, and the two older kids have pallets on the floor next to the parents' bed. For whatever reason, the pallets on the floor work.

I think sleep issues are THE hardest in all of parenting tiny people. It's just so exhausting. I will say this--Will didn't sleep through the night until he was 2 1/2. 2 1/2!!! I almost didn't have a second child because for 2 1/2 years of my life I was up multiple times during the night (he would scream, so I could only lie in bed and curse for so long before handling it). It's not the same situation, but I do empathize with the exhaustion and frustration.

I don't have any real advice other than maybe trying to put her in your room (while avoiding having her in your bed to disturb you) and maybe letting her read books quietly???

I hope it gets better soon--I will say this, though, as a general rule in parenting, any time I start to hate my children for something they are doing, I remind myself that it is a phase. She's not going to do this forever (even though it feels that way right now). You'll blink, and tomorrow she'll be doing something else to frustrate you.

Oh--and tag team the night watch for sure. Your husband definitely deserves some fun.

Carter said...

Well... I know I'm not a mommy, but I am a stay-at-home daddy, so I figure I meet the minimum qualifications to share my input. :)

We have night time and (even more intense) nap time battles, too. At night, it usually takes two or three rounds of the Super Nanny method before our man cub will stay in bed. However, at nap times, we have regularly resorted to putting him in the truck and driving around town. Works every time. Sometimes, if he's deep enough into sleep, we can successfully transfer him from the truck to his bed with little ado. Most of the time, we just turn the heat up in the garage (hey - it's Alaska) and leave the doors open so we can hear him when he wakes up. This usually doesn't result in much rest or productivity for me as I tend to check on him every 5 minutes and can't really leave the immediate area. But, it does work and, given the alternative, is worth it.

I don't know if you would want to do something like that at bedtime, but 30 minutes of driving around versus a two-hour battle of wills might save everyone a little sanity. Perfecting the transition from car to bed would be key... or otherwise finding some way to be morally OK with letting your child sleep in the garage all night. (No judgment here!)

All jokes aside, good luck. If you find the sandman's bag of tricks, let me know. You have my sympathy.

Kim said...

I don't have any personal advice, but I do know other people whose children don't sleep and they've tried everything from melatonin to seeing sleep specialists. The latest suggestion from the sleep specialist is to cut out all forms of stimulation 2 hours leading up to bedtime. I don't know how practical this is in a house with 3 other children, but I know that seems to be working. I tend to believe there are some people in the world who just don't sleep much and no amount of cajoling, disciplining, etc will make a difference. I think as she gets older you may find some other things people have suggested, like getting her an iPod to listen to soothing music or reading in bed until she's tired, will work well with her and take the stress off you. Maybe she should have her own room for the time being so you don't have a house full of sleep deprived zombies. Hope you get some helpful advice.

Anonymous said...


I kid.

A constant routine, bathtime an hour before, one story, music, a "sleep" animal that makes sleepy noises, rocking...

Oh, or they have this nightlight that is big and changes color with the hour. Blue for when you can't get up, yellow for when it's almost time, or something like that. I saw it on Pinterest. Also, there's a nighlight with removable orbs?

Fritter said...

Oh mama I feel for you.

I put those round door knob covers on B's room, and once he figured out he couldn't open the door anymore he gave up.

If it were me (and this is probably the worst advice ever) I would put one of those on the door and leave it at that. She can't get out. If she falls asleep on the floor-oh well. You go in and check on her before you go to bed and put her in bed. Is that awful?