Bedtime nightmare

Bedtime at our house has become a complete nightmare!  Knowing that we had a baby coming, we carefully moved our 2 year old into a “big boy bed” several months ago so that he would not feel like the baby was taking his bed (psychology major, remember).  He got new “Thomas the Train” bedding, which he still proudly shows off to everyone who comes in our door.  Knowing this child as we do, however, we braced ourselves for the trouble that would inevitably come when we moved him out of the constraints of a crib to the freedom of an open bed.  We were sure he would never stay in bed, would be roaming the halls at night, doing who knows what.  We were ready.  Then, it didn’t happen!  He so sweetly went to bed like normal, slept all night as usual, and called for me to get him out of the bed in the morning.  What bliss!

Then, the baby came.  At first, this did not create a problem.  But looking back, I can see this is how it started.  There were several times that he woke up from his nap and called for me, but I was downstairs holding or feeding our new baby.  So, I did the next best thing.  I sent the 4 year old up to get him out of bed.  They both thought that was great fun.  But somehow along the way, this little guy put it together that if his brother could come get him out of bed, then it must not be a big deal to be out of his bed.  That was the beginning of the end.  As I write this, it is after 10 p.m., and bedtime has been going on for over 2 hours. He is making his 3rd trip “sneaking” down the stairs.

We have tried everything.  I took the supportive approach, and sat reading in his room until he fell asleep.  I finished 2 books in 4 days.  He didn’t go to sleep.  We put him down in our room a couple of times.  He took the diaper cream that was by the bed and smeared it all over the wall and headboard.  We took a punishing approach.  We took his toys away.  After the 2nd time, he walked down the stairs and willingly handed them over.  I yelled a lot.  My 4 year old said that I was really scary.  This guy didn’t even seem to notice.  I really don’t believe in spanking, but my husband doesn’t share this feelings, and gave him a small one.  He didn’t even blink an eye.  I tried the preventataive approach and put the baby gate on his door. He got it off in about 7 minutes.

I thought I finally fixed the problem.  As a “punishment”, I brought the pack-and-play out of the closet in an attempt to keep him contained.  I thought this would at least slow him down.  He was thrilled!  He said, “Mommy, for ME?! Thank you!!!”.  Then he slept in it all night.  I was already patting myself on the back for this one.  Then the 4 year old came in his room the next morning.  While I had my back turned for 1 minute, he taught the 2 year old how fun it is to climb in and out of it.  I felt like I was in slow motion running in screaming, “Nooooooooo!”.

So, back to square 1.  He doesn’t seem to be suffering from the lack of sleep.  I’m worried though that if I can’t fix this, my husband might call “Super Nanny”.  Help, please!!!

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7 Responses to Bedtime nightmare

  1. David Harris (father of 7) says:

    Ah, the memories! Emily, its never a science, mostly an art! from what we can tell, resistance to sleep = too much energy. when they are “worn out” the sleep thru the night. but it is a fine line: too much exertion results in soreness and pain and continuous crying through the night!!

    Best thing short of exercise is find ways for them to interact at night time, maybe share a bed? they won’t be quiet, but they will leave you alone at least ;-).

    Supermom (my wife) can tell you a TON more.

  2. David Harris says:

    Ah, the memories! Emily, its never a science, mostly an art! from what we can tell, resistance to sleep = too much energy. when they are “worn out” the sleep thru the night. but it is a fine line: too much exertion results in soreness and pain and continuous crying through the night!!

    Best thing short of exercise is find ways for them to interact at night time, maybe share a bed? they won't be quiet, but they will leave you alone at least ;-).

    Supermom (my wife) can tell you a TON more.

  3. Chris Curtin says:

    We have 3 kids. Some ideas worked for each one, some didn’t..

    1. put a door safety lock on the inside of the door. He can’t open it (I hope, our youngest figured them out at 18 months).
    2. Stand at the door (with the closed, you outside). When he gets up and can’t open the door tell me ‘go to sleep like a big boy’ and “l’ll be in to check on you in a minute’.
    3. Routine, Routine. We brush teeth, piggy back ride, one or two Thomas and Arthur stories then I tell him ‘get into bed like a big boy’.
    4. Don’t be a mom ;-). Say Goodnight, quick kiss and hug then leave. Don’t delay at the door, don’t blow kisses etc. Then they think it is a game.
    5. Last idea, which worked with 2nd daughter: sit in the hallway with a book, each time they get up put them back in bed without saying anything besides ‘time for bed, I love you’.

    As for the 4 year old, be glad they get along. My teen and tween daughters fight about everything.

    P.S. It is Thomas The Tank Engine, as our rather indignant toddler will tell you if you call him Thomas the Train 😉

  4. Chris Curtin says:

    We have 3 kids. Some ideas worked for each one, some didn't..

    1. put a door safety lock on the inside of the door. He can't open it (I hope, our youngest figured them out at 18 months).
    2. Stand at the door (with the closed, you outside). When he gets up and can't open the door tell me 'go to sleep like a big boy' and “l'll be in to check on you in a minute'.
    3. Routine, Routine. We brush teeth, piggy back ride, one or two Thomas and Arthur stories then I tell him 'get into bed like a big boy'.
    4. Don't be a mom ;-). Say Goodnight, quick kiss and hug then leave. Don't delay at the door, don't blow kisses etc. Then they think it is a game.
    5. Last idea, which worked with 2nd daughter: sit in the hallway with a book, each time they get up put them back in bed without saying anything besides 'time for bed, I love you'.

  5. ehilimire says:

    Thanks, David. I would certainly consider you guys “experts” in all things children. 🙂 I am trying to incorporate more exercise into the day. I will let you know how that works. I would love to let them share a bed, but the 4 year old genuinely wants to go to sleep, and he gets so angry at the little guy for keeping him up!

  6. ehilimire says:

    Thanks, Chris.I really appreciate the feedback. I have definitely tried varieties of 1-5, but I will have to look at how I might approach them again!

  7. Kelly B says:

    Emily, your blog is like a good book – always a pleasure to revisit it from time to time and reread! I can’t wait to read about your new adventures!

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