Have We Discussed Bedtime Lately?

So, last night I sat here and wrote a long, painful post, begging you all to help me figure out how to Save Bedtime. (Now that we’re done with the whole Save Ferris campaign, that is.) Because it’s been just awful. I outlined the scenario and what’s got us so stuck around here. I was going to post it tonight.

But then I was on a little internet chat with my good friend Becky (because why would you just yell out your back window to your friend-who-happens-to-be-your-neighbor when you could do something impersonal like iChat?). And I asked Becky (yes, the one with the better fashion sense) if she knew how to keep a 2-year old in his bed at night. Now this might sound normal to you, but that’s only because you don’t know that Becky’s child is still in a crib. But desperate times call for desperate measures.

Becky recalls reading somewhere that you should just walk the child back to bed as many times as you have to – without saying a word.

Oh.

Wait! (Slapping head with open palm.)

You mean, don’t yammer on and on with, “If you get out of bed again, I’m going to have to take Superman to sleep with me, because he really wants to sleep and you’re keeping him awake”? or (my personal favorite) “Please, please, just get back into bed without another freak out,” which last night resulted in him hollering, “FreeCock! What’s FreeCock, Mommy? What does the freecock say?” with his big brother rolling with laughter up above, screeching like a peacock.

So tonight, armed with this new idea, I stayed calm. I breathed. We read the story, we cuddled on the pillows on the floor, I sang the songs they wanted (one was about helicopters and the other about Superman). I stayed the requisite four minutes (Lyle’s time limit of choice). I quietly went to the couch in the playroom outside their door. Every time Lyle left his bed, I silently walked him back. I never said another word to him. When he dropped his toy and needed my help, I silently pointed to it. He got it. I silently gestured towards his bed. He got into it.

Oh, it wasn’t pleasant or easy, don’t get me wrong. He cried and screamed and drove his brother absolutely bananas in the top bunk. But he stopped getting out of bed, and eventually he calmed down and went to sleep.

Noisy? Yes.
A longer process than is strictly necessary? Definitely.
But better than last night and the night before that, and the night before that.

Which serves as a great reminder that sometimes you just need a fresh perspective, not necessarily someone who has walked in your exact pair of stinky shoes.

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7 responses to “Have We Discussed Bedtime Lately?

  1. Yeah, I need a little Nanny 911 action in my house with my 4 y.o. She slept like a champ for the first 2 1/2 years of her life, then it all went to hell. I do find myself making empty threats in the middle of the night(“No TV!”) and being really inconsistent(sometimes just giving in and sleeping with her). Duh. I guess I should practice what I preach, but that’s really hard when you’re sleep deprived!

  2. Let’s just hope it works with Anya when we finally make the move (and when Lyle lets it slip that she is actually capable of getting out of bed on her own…does Lyle want a car in exchange for his silence on this matter???).

  3. Oh, The Joys

    So I’m the only one that sits on mine? Like, literally? Heh.

  4. Christopher Tassava

    Blessedly, both of our girls are doing pretty well on the sleeping front right now, and have been for a while. But if I’m ever an actor, and need to feel stressed to the point of shaking and tears, I’ll just think about those horrible nights (past and – probably – future) when They Just Won’t Sleep. *shudder*

    At any rate, I hope Becky’s techniques work as well tonight as last night! (Come to think of it, didn’t she work for a certain branch of the federal government with a well-known interest in behavior modification?)

  5. Does anyone else–besides Heather Armstrong, I mean–have a three-year-old who literally does not know that she can get out of her bed without Mama or Daddy there to get her up? Believe me, I’m not complaining. But it still cracks me up that to this day at the end of every nap and night she’ll call, “Mama/Daddy, come in, I’m wakin’ up!” and lie there until we open the nursery door to greet her–no matter how long that takes. (Lest you resent me, recall that this is the child who basically did not nap from 16 weeks old to six months old, and after that only napped for at most an hour at a time for the rest of her baby/toddlerhood, so I figure I’m due a preschooler who easily goes to bed and sleeps 12 hours without a peep.)

  6. Actually, that’s fairly commonplace, for a child their age not to know they can get out of bed! Baxter did that for years and years, and I had to tell Lyle recently that he could come out of bed and upstairs after his nap. Boy, did that open a can of worms.

    As I write, my blood pressure is through the roof because the silent treatment didn’t work AT ALL for nap and this child, who whined and cried and rubbed his eyes all morning, is a live wire, running rampant through the house, not able to do quiet time and punching his brother. I could just scream. Help!!!! (Do I just need a gate??)

  7. Hmm…now that I think back on it, we DID gate D into his room at quiet time when he was younger and not napping. (And by “younger” I mean hs stopped at about 20 months and has not napped since.) Since N was only a baby then, and napping all the time, I made sure D’s room was safe for him, put him down for quiet time, closed the blessed gate (but not his door as I wanted to be able to hear him), and then sat in the next room with the Noster, rocking and nursing and rocking and nursing….He really did well, actually, and it saved my sanity (although there are probably many out there who doubt it!). Sometimes he would sleep, but most of the time he would play quietly. Really. 🙂

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