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To think there has got to be an easier way to get older children to sleep?

(58 Posts)
ThisIsNotARealAvo Wed 31-Aug-16 20:38:38

We have 2 children aged 7 and nearly 9. We adopted them 18 months ago. Bedtime takes absolutely ages. Both children need an adult with them until they fall asleep, which sometimes means I am doing bedtime from 7 until 9 or later. I work as a teacher and get really tired, making me snappy around these endless bedtimes, and also would like to spend my evenings on other tasks sometimes. It makes it very difficult for one of us to go out (although we are lucky to have PIL to babysit sometimes so we can both go out).

It's driving me crazy, I just dread bedtime as I know I'm going to be sitting there for so long. My younger child usually gets to sleep quite quickly but my older child not for 45 mins to an hour.

DH and I have tried various ways of taking turns, doing one night each or one child each, and the routine is precitable - bath, teeth, one story, a couple of songs of Spotify and lights out. This is a routine we have honed over the last 18 months. We have also tried lights- night lights, lights on, off, music, no music, but my son still takes ages to go to sleep. I've tried back rubs, meditation type stuff, and every lavender product out there.

I fee for him as I know he's anxious, and to be fair their behaviour at bedtime is usually very good. I just want my evenings back.

IABU aren't I? I will just have to put up with it until they grow out of it! I just long to kiss them good night and go downstairs.

ThisIsNotARealAvo Wed 31-Aug-16 20:40:23

I should have also said that if I try to leave them before they are asleep they get very upset, cry, and sometimes get quite panicky. So it doesn't seem worth it.

GeneralBobbit Wed 31-Aug-16 20:41:09

Is it time to teach them to settle themselves? Let them read, listen to music or draw?

Or do you think it's an attachment/anxiety issue because of they're adopted?

Cozytoesandtoast00 Wed 31-Aug-16 20:41:15


GeneralBobbit Wed 31-Aug-16 20:41:34

Sorry, x posted

Poor you !

Pinkvici22 Wed 31-Aug-16 20:41:53

I feel your pain. Mine is much younger and I've already lost patience!! DD is aged 4. Slept through the night from 4 months and self settled.

Then a few months ago out of the blue she suddenly couldn't self settle, bedtime takes hours and she finds her way into my bed every night.

I also work FT in a very stressful job and I'm exhausted. I don't have any solutions but hope someone does. I just wanted to say I sympathise with you!

isthistoonosy Wed 31-Aug-16 20:42:18

Could you keep the older child up a bit later maybe he just isn't tired. Or if he reads allow him a night light to read while the other is sleeping and start popping out to do things while he is reading, gradually increasing the time you are out the room for. Basically gradual retreat for big kids.

AnnaMarlowe Wed 31-Aug-16 20:43:10

7pm is quite early for a nearly 9 yo to go to bed.

Why not let them read in their room quietly until 8:30pm or so and then go and see them for good night?

NormHonal Wed 31-Aug-16 20:44:28

Melatonin is great for anxious DCs.

You can't get it in the UK unless on expensive private prescription, but you can buy it online or overseas. But it might be worth discussing with your GP.

Has made the world of difference in our household - bedtime/sleeptime is now a reliable 8pm, even with one of us sitting in the room.

jinglymum Wed 31-Aug-16 20:45:21


I've had so many problems getting my 5 year old to a point he can self settle, different situation as mine was because I had always helped him to sleep so he had never learnt it.

Anyway we finally cracked it when he got a new bedroom, we picked everything out together on the understanding he was getting a big boy bedroom and big boys went to sleep by themselves.

I know it sounds drastic but maybe something like that would we. We have been tear free from night one in the new room.

Meadows76 Wed 31-Aug-16 20:45:32

Bedtime is way too early for both, but in particular for the elder child.

Mine went to bed at 7pm when they were 2.

NattyTile Wed 31-Aug-16 20:47:06

Was that their routine in foster care too or just since they moved in with you?

What do they do if you do leave them to it?

I think I'd aim not to disappear altogether, but to go for a gradual withdrawal until you get to a point where they will accept you sitting on the landing, in earshot and eyeliner, but not in constant contact.

Might take a while, but hopefully it'll reinforce the fact that you are still there for them, that you aren't going to disappear, that they aren't alone, but that they really can sleep by themselves.

You might need to start gradually by retreating from their bed to the floor or a chair initially at the foot of the bed but bit by bit closer to the door until you can get outside.

Then you can at least take it in turns to be the one sitting upstairs. Still not great but a bit better.

Or you could do what I did with my adopted child 18 months after placement and just refuse to do it any more, leading to nights of screaming before acceptance hit. But that was very hard going and I'm not sure if do it that way again. We did all survive it though.

smarterthanhim Wed 31-Aug-16 20:47:46

Aw, sounds like you are knackered! I can relate, as my 6 yr old needs someone around at sleep time. He sleeps really well, but is dreadfully anxious if alone. 10 yr old goes to bed same time as me! But he has to amuse himself quietly from 8 pm. Tbh, at the age yours are, I think they are passed the early night stage. Maybe you

NattyTile Wed 31-Aug-16 20:48:07

GPs can prescribe melatonin - ours does.

allypally1983 Wed 31-Aug-16 20:48:08

Have you tried gradual withdrawal? Worked a treat with my dd

AnaG1ypta Wed 31-Aug-16 20:48:18

I agree - maybe closer to 9 is a more natural bedtime? Work on a no-fuss sleep at that time and bring it forward?

Twoseventhsaweasley Wed 31-Aug-16 20:48:31

My 7 year old is exactly the same. He is my birth child but he does have SN. I really feel for you. He was still awake at 11 last night and then I had to spend another hour sitting next to his bed at 4 am.

We have also tried music, stories, lights etc. If you discover anything that works please share and I will do the same.

Good luck. I really hope you find a way to help your boy manage his anxiety.

smarterthanhim Wed 31-Aug-16 20:49:29

Sorry, posted too soon! Maybe you could carve out some evening adult space by sending them into another room with a nice DVD, or some games and books? That was our solution.

Squirrelfruitandnutkin Wed 31-Aug-16 20:50:01

How would they be if you said you were in your bed room, only a few steps away? You could crack on with work/ read/ something and after a while start moving further away?
My 5yo likes to know that I'm near by and also that I'll pop back in (when I put the washing away, when I go to the toilet, when I put my pjs on, when I go to bed etc). I only actually check when I go to bed but she's reassured by the routine of telling me when to check on her!

Oakmaiden Wed 31-Aug-16 20:50:49

What time do they get up in the morning?

ladyjadey Wed 31-Aug-16 20:50:50

I suppose it's different as ours are not adopted and we have made no special efforts to settle them. I don't muck about at bedtime, a kiss and a cuddle and I'm off, they can read to themselves if they wish and it's not too late. I'm of the opinion that the more you cater to the kids the more you end up trapped in situations like this, but I can appreciate that when you adopt kids you want to make them happy and settled. I think a steady retreat is needed, and tell them what you are doing and why. Good luck xx

Squirrelfruitandnutkin Wed 31-Aug-16 20:51:22

PS my 7yo goes to sleep 8ish and is up 6.30. He's always been an early bird but needs less sleep than 6months ago.

lokijet Wed 31-Aug-16 20:55:57

have you tried story CDs this allows them a longer wind down time and my son often drops off while listening with low/no lights. I also have used the headspace app for Kids and a kids sleep//meditation cd (but mine will only listen after a "real" story)

Seryph Wed 31-Aug-16 20:56:47

Okay, firstly you have only been with each other for a very small amount of time in the gran scheme of things, it's perfectly normal and reasonable for these children to have problems settling.

Secondly, 7pm is way too early for bed time, especially for a 9yo. And I would expect a 9 yo to bath themselves, a sensible 7 yo can probably mostly manage by themselves too. So send them up for a bath and get them to give you a shout when they are out, into pjs and bed, you can read a story then leave them reading for a bit perhaps?

You say both children need you with them. So let them need you for as long as it takes. You won't still be sitting with them when they are 30, I promise.

TryingtobePrepared Wed 31-Aug-16 20:57:16

Not sure I have useful advice mine are much smaller but really feel for you. If you can afford it is it worth a sleep counsellor? I'd always been a bit dubious but friend won a go in a silent auction and it's revolutionised their lives. We're of the we'll pop back in a minute, then 2 mins then 5 mins school when dd1 is anxious. Good luck flowers

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