I cannot get through bedtime without losing my temper

(43 Posts)
PolyesterBride Tue 10-Sep-13 21:43:06

I would like to know how other people manage to put children to bed without shouting. I do not seem to be able to manage it.

I have two DDs aged 5 and 3. I have a partner but he works long hours so its usually just me doing bedtime. I also work full time which puts a bit of time pressure on as I end up doing things too late and the girls are always exhausted.

What are other people's routines? We tend to go upstairs, have a bath (sometimes) or get straight into pjs (usually), have stories. DD2 has milk. All of that is mostly fine. The bits I can't manage is getting them to have a wee and brush their teeth. One of them always ends up refusing/whining/tantrumming about it and it always ends in a big argument with threats of god knows what, people being sent to sleep in different rooms, lights out straight after stories followed by more wailing and its just hell.

The other thing I can't do is do any reading practice with DD1. It is impossible to do it because DD2 just interrupts constantly. I end up so grumpy that I snap at DD1 for the slightest mistake. Tonight ended up with reading being abandoned as I tried to put a screaming DD2 downstairs (which didn't work as she kept coming back up). I ranted at both of them about how they make me so miserable.

Basically I am horrible. But I need a better way to do bedtime. Or do other people's children just comply?

Sorry this is so long and dull.

AFishWithoutABicycle Tue 10-Sep-13 21:45:46

What time do they go to bed?

NumTumDeDum Tue 10-Sep-13 21:47:34

Do they have the same bedtime? And do they share a room? Is giving the younger girl a slightly earlier bedtime and the elder one a slightly later one so they are at least half an hour apart an option?

Could the girls clean teeth straight away after their tea and just remove that bit from bedtime?

PolyesterBride Tue 10-Sep-13 21:48:32

Around 7.30 normally. I aim for lights off by 8 but don't always manage. They normally mess around for a while so fall asleep 8.30 or so. They have to wake up at 7. It doesn't sound that bad but I think they need more sleep.

NumTumDeDum Tue 10-Sep-13 21:48:37

Sorry posted before I'd finished, the reading could be done after younger one is in bed.

I'm like this - come home from work and I'm tired and hungry! So grab a snack on the way home and tell yourself that it will be fine. Bedtime isn't really the time for reading practise surely? Why not just have them both read with you and keep it relaxed for now?

Also do a wee before stories, same with teeth. And keep them both with you.

PolyesterBride Tue 10-Sep-13 21:50:48

Yes they share a room which doesn't really help! A different bed time might work but a bit hard logistically when I'm on my own. Could get DD1 to wait for me in my bedroom while I settle DD2 I guess.

Wishihadabs Tue 10-Sep-13 21:52:02

Sorry I disagree the 5yo does need reading practice what time do you get through the door? eat? go upstairs. We can help but we need details.

PolyesterBride Tue 10-Sep-13 21:53:43

Not sure when else I could do the practice. Or rather, I suppose I could do it straight after dinner or something, but what to do with Dd2? She just insists on joining in and makes it impossible! I suppose she could be bribed to stay quiet with the iPad.

NumTumDeDum Tue 10-Sep-13 21:54:43

Also have you tried the descriptive praise technique? It basically involves noticing and commenting on everything they do right. So if say dd1 picks up her brush, but doesn't brush you would comment 'well done, thank you for starting to brush your teeth like I asked you.' It sticks in the throat a bit when they are being difficult and my dd (4) is the definition of difficult. I was surprised that it works. I forget to do it all the time and have meltdowns too. Sympathy!

Wishihadabs Tue 10-Sep-13 21:56:27

that sounds like a plan was going to suggest the night garden.

joanofarchitrave Tue 10-Sep-13 21:57:01

Is there any time for reading practice in the morning?

Brush teeth in the bath?

Wee before pjs?

PolyesterBride Tue 10-Sep-13 21:58:24

We get in the door usually 5.45-6 ish. I then provide drinks, take them for a wee (this always seems to take a long time and they won't go upstairs without me). Then I get the good ready so we eat about 6.30. Go upstairs around 7 or sometimes a bit later (they eat incredibly slowly and insist on millions of pieces of fruit etc!). Occasionally I get in earlier eg 5.15 and it all happens a bit earlier. I have totally accepted the need for fast dinners eg not even cooked stuff or beans on toast but 30 mins after walking in is as quick as I can be!

NumTumDeDum Tue 10-Sep-13 21:58:49

Have you tried sticker charts etc for cleaning teeth? They didn't work for us but they do for a lot of people.

PolyesterBride Tue 10-Sep-13 22:04:43

I probably don't do the descriptive praise enough. I seem to concentrate on the 'playing one off against the other' praise which probably doesn't foster much harmony

I would also describe my DD1 as the definition of difficult! Now that DD2 is getting in on the stroppy act I feel completely defeated.

I going to work out a way to do the reading with dd1 before we go upstairs while dd2 goes on the iPad or watches tv. Then teeth and wees before stories.

It's not that hard to work out is it? Just seems like an impossible task when two small people are screaming their lungs out at you.

PorridgeLover Tue 10-Sep-13 22:06:41

Been here and done it. Had a 4yo and a 5.5yo going to bed in the same room. Night after night of shouting, biting my tongue and coming downstairs hating myself.

I used 'How to talk so kids will listen' which is basically the descriptive praise NumTum mentions.
It takes practice but boy, does it work!

It still takes time, but I can sit on the landing with my cuppa while they get ready for bed...they do it all by themselves right up to the point where I read them a story and give them a cuddle.
Got it from the library initially.

orangeandemons Tue 10-Sep-13 22:06:49

I think, perhaps some of your problem is the time you get in-sorry.

Can one of you not rejig your hours so you get in at about 4:30?. I'd be stressed out doing all you do and getting in at that time. It seems like your main problem is time.

joanofarchitrave Tue 10-Sep-13 22:07:27

Just to say - I hate bedtime. Always have done. I hear about parents who make it a magical time of loveliness and I feel very sad but the best I can do is kind but brisk, and sprint down the stairs before I go 'AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGH'

PolyesterBride Tue 10-Sep-13 22:14:10

I have that book but haven't read it yet. I have also been on a parenting course (hollow laugh) which taught that type of descriptive praise running commentary type thing. Will definitely try to do it much more.

I agree the main problem is time but nothing I can do about that. To get in at 4.30 would mean leaving work at 3.30 which is just impossible. I'm already guiltily sloping off at 4.45 or so. Still I think it could be done if I had a better approach to things. I get really stressed and really short tempered.

Thanks everyone for your suggestions.

summermakesmesneeze Tue 10-Sep-13 22:15:16

Perhaps if you're having a night where you're in a little earlier, or if what you're cooking allows you to be out of the kitchen you could try and squeeze some reading practise in? Otherwise there's always the weekend to catch up.

And the fruit- is it a diversion tactic on their part? You could be a little firmer and say 'here is tonight's fruit, once it's gone it's gone' (and then straight upstairs, monkeys!)

Sympathy, getting my DD1 to do anything in a hurry is nigh on impossible.

Parmarella Tue 10-Sep-13 22:20:12

it is tough at that ages, but gets better!

I used to divide and conquer, so let 3 yr old watch TV (no i-pads 5 years ago!) and sit with 5 yr old to read. Naturally, the 3 yr old is jealous of the attention so would also get a "fair" share of time where we read together.

The whole old quality time thing, both should have a bit of your undivided attention every evening..it is important to them, after that they will calm a bit.

I used to put youngest to bed first, and then older one once youngest is asleep. My 2-3 yr old yongest needed a special routine with me singing the same song every night, three times, then 10 kisses, then night night! then light out whilst I sing his special song one more time. Shortcuts were not allowed. the older one loved the important privilege of staying up a bit longer and went to bed quitely as a mouse when his time wwas up (they shared a room) and we would have a whisper and a cuddle...shhhh, then bed.

You will have to find a routine hat suits all of you. I found at that age kids demand a pretty much fixed routine. The later it got and the more tired they got, the harder bed time would be.

Numberlock Tue 10-Sep-13 22:23:59

Make tea the night before or batch cook at weekends. So tea takes only as long as microwave or the time it takes the rice or pasta to cook.

Spongingbobsunderpants Tue 10-Sep-13 22:39:23

Where are they when you pick them up? Can you arrange for them to have tea a bit earlier or a hot meal at lunch and then just picky bits for tea?

I get in from work around 5.45pm and luckily they will have eaten before I get there (have live out nanny) but I still always make them a meal the night before to heat up for either lunch or tea, and the other meal will usually be sandwiches or pitta with fillings and some fruit/yoghurt. It's sometimes a pain in the arse cooking their food the night before especially when Dh and i want to cook a separate spicier dish, but at least I know they are getting something nutritious but quick and easy the next day. Could you organise it like this - that they have hot meal either made by you the day before to just heat up or easy to prepare cold meals?

I've just started staggering bedtimes when it's not bath night (really can't be arsed doing two separate bath times!) and take dd2 up around 6.30pm for age appropriate stories rather than superhero ones which ds1 loves. ds1 follows around 7pm and both are usually down (if not asleep) be 7.30pm.

It's not perfect by any means but it's better than it used to be (involving snatching, competitive crying, fighting and ruined storytimes)

anonymum11 Tue 10-Sep-13 22:41:19

I've struggled too and we've only got one DD, now 4 yrs old. The best advice I've been given is to keep speaking in a calm voice, even when they're misbehaving. If I start sounding stressed she gets more stressed and we wind each other up.

eddiemairswife Tue 10-Sep-13 23:01:53

I would certainly recommend putting the younger to bed first. It makes the older one feel a bit special. I have never understood why people put all their children to bed at the same time.

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