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5yr old ds too bored to sleep.. please help...

(18 Posts)
dippyeggs Fri 12-Oct-12 12:06:29

I have put this on sleep too but it's more relevant to behaviour...

My DS is 5, just started year one.

For the last 12 months, he has struggled to get to sleep at night. Since we (horror) belatedly took his dummy away. I know 4 yrs, awful. Guilt etc.

I split from my exh in March, these problems started way before that and we managed that the kids (also have nrly 3yr dd) didn't witness any fights or upset. Not quite sure how we managed it but we did... so am fairly confident that as this started before that, although he is obviously upset and misses daddy (sees twice a week) that this is unconnected. It's so easy to blame everything on the split.

Anyway, I put my dd to bed at 7pm and wait for her to got to sleep before ds goes up (before 8pm) - otherwise there is ww3...

He then usually shouts for me until around 9pm, I'm bored, can hear noises... I'm not tired, I need water - anything really. He doesn't get out of bed. We solved that about xmas time last year and it seems to have stuck thank goodness. I go up and down the stairs not wanting him to wake up dd....

It's just so hard. I'm on my own with the most of the time, I work and am exhausted and just need to have some head space before I go to bed. I often end up going to bed just after he has fallen asleep.

I have tried reward charts, cuddles, bribes staying calm... Have now started to shout a lot which I hate. He generally, obviously, responds very badly to me losing my temper. I explain its bedtime, suggest he looks at a book etc. That I need to eat my dinner, that I will check him in 10 mins if he is quiet...

He generally is a good lad, very sociable, and conforms very well at school/with others, but very disobedient at home, rarely doing anything I ask him to do.... Distracted, not listening...

Anyone got any thoughts on resolving the going to bed/sleep thing? He is obviously exhausted. It doesn't seem to matter when I take him to bed... I have pushed bedtime later he still calls and calls.... Same when he's with exh and he is struggling too - we are trying to work together..

Twinkleinmyeye Fri 12-Oct-12 21:37:14

Oof this sounds hard. Poor you. sad

What does he do while you're putting your DD to bed? If it's TV, it could be a bit high impact that close to bedtime, but I understand why you need for him to be entertained while you see to her. if he is watching TV, something quietish would be good. Not sure what though. Helpful.

What is his bedtime routine? Do you do the whole reading a story with dimmed lights thing? You can read chapters of longer books with him now, which might be nice for him to see as just your (ie yours and his) thing to do together. That would be a good way of calming him down and readying him for bed and letting him have some quality time with you before dozing off. Pre-empt things like needing a drink by letting him help get a cup of water to take up with him.

I'm sure that this will pass, but it doesn't help in the short term. It sounds to me though like he's just trying to get you back in the room. If you stretch out the actual putting him to bed bit, it might shorten the messing around bit.

HTH smile

Lovewearingjeans Fri 12-Oct-12 21:47:24

We have this with ds2 who is in yr2, but has been going on and of for a while. We are very mean smile and tell him it's bedtime go to bed. He then either sleeps or sings song from Joseph and his technicolour dreamcoat. What works for him are stars, and when he gets 10 he gets a Moshi Monster card pack. This is what works best for us. We do have to remind him to have a drink at tea time as drinks are the biggest excuse for not sleeping.

adoptmama Sat 13-Oct-12 05:59:08

Single parent too, so bags of sympathy for you: you need your time in the evening too to destress and unwind. And don't worry too much about the shouting - we all do it, they survive and honestly I personally think there is nothing wrong with them sometimes getting the sharp end of the stick and realising we all have limits.

Also - shock horror - mine had her dummy till the same age. Lots of good reasons for this, including when DD2 arrived DD1 sneaking them smile We had a good few nights of screaming "i can't sleep' etc. after they were finally taken away a few months ago.

My DD1 is the same age and we still have similar issues to the ones you describe. DD1 gets quite jealous of sister being the 'baby.' DD2 still gets a bottle, so DD1 also takes her bottle of warm milk off to bed with her: helps her to feel she is still my baby and the warm milk helps her drop off. Now and then I let her take a book into bed with her; she is normally asleep very quickly after that. We went thru a brief 'monsters are under my bed phase' which she had clearly got from someone else as a possible tactic at bed time (I wonder if they discuss it on the playground grin) but gave up after being told to stop being ridiculous!

If you have let it slip recently, re-establish your bed time routine and stick to it. Once I have DD1's light off now she has her chance to ask me 'one last thing.' When she shouts down the stairs, if it is not a dire emergency, I just call back to her that we are done with conversations now and I am not answering her. She usually stops pretty quickly and luckily DD2 is a deep sleeper! If DD1 is particularly unsettled or feeling replaced by DD2, I let her go to sleep in my bed (where she either stays for the night or I carry her back later) and that always stops the shouting down: I guess it gives her a feeling of being close to me even if I am downstairs.

Even though you are confident it is not connected to the split he may have some fears lurking that you are going to leave too. My DD1 had a great fear of being left (adopted and has abandonment issues) - I used to let her keep the car keys and my shoes in her room at one point so she knew I couldn't leave with out her!

poachedeggs Sat 13-Oct-12 06:43:21

I'm no expert on sleep but my DC are awful sleepers so I've tried it all over the years! I've got a couple of thoughts.
Is it possible that he's overtired? My DS is 5 and if he stays up too late he will often lie awake for hours on end. He shares a room with 2 year old DD so I understand the worries about waking he. I bath them ntogether then they both go to bed at the same time. The practicalities sort of evolved but they will get a short story each and then ligts out . I sit in a chair between the beds until they're asleep! This has potential to be frustrating but it's become a nice wind down - I catch up on the news, facebook and MN on my phone and relax and they're usually asleep within fifteen minutes, then the evening is free. Do you think it might work for you?

I also insist on a proper drink with tea, and preempt requests by having a little plastic beaker of water by the bed.

Don't be hard on yourself about losing the rag. I find bedtime really hard (I'm not a LP though, DH works shifts, so appreciate it must be a lot harder doing it alone always) and at 5 I think they're old enough to grasp that you need time for yourself.

lolalotta Sat 13-Oct-12 06:56:09

I think he might be missing his sleep window and going to bed too late and becoming overtired so finding it difficult to settle off. PLUS i think he might be looking for mote attention from you. What worked for my sister and her eldest is spending 15/20 minutes one on one with her eldest at bedtime relaxing in bed with her and chatting or reading stories etc and really connecting. This not only meant she had no problems falling to sleep afterwards it even reduced the amount of scrapping that was going on with her younger sister too so it was a win win!!!! grin

lolalotta Sat 13-Oct-12 06:58:28

Mote= more

lolalotta Sat 13-Oct-12 06:59:15

Could you put a beaker of water by his bed too?

seeker Sat 13-Oct-12 07:06:52

Audio books are your friend!

dippyeggs Sat 13-Oct-12 14:24:03

Thanks so much all of you. Some really good tips and support (and understanding) I have only just changed his bedtime from 7.15-7.30pm tbh but do think he is over tired in many ways... Yr 1 much more tiring for a start and he can't get up in the mornings... But, I know dd will get up if she's not asleep... Hmmmn.

Audio books worked well for a while, will try them again. Also love the 'one more chance to ask me something' tip then ignoring adopt.... Will try...

It also really helps to know I am not the only one struggling. Last night it was 930pm - We had a very calm and happy bedtime for once, I was determined and he seemed to pick up on my calmness.. I also said he would lose certain privilages for a week and he didn't shout but he came down!! just twice but we I don't want to introduce a worse problem!! Finally saying he had a sore throat at 910pm... Calpol time, he has got a cough and I have had a sore throat so I gave him the benefit of the doubt...

He is with my exh tonight who is fully briefed. DD1 wok up with chicken pox this morning!! Bless her. sad

I really appreciate you guys taking such time. It's nice to feel supported...

poachedeggs Sat 13-Oct-12 14:45:14

Seriously, keep posting. It's bloody tough and sometimes all that gets you through is having a vent on here. And remember, it will pass! smile

Twinkleinmyeye Sun 14-Oct-12 18:12:22

Argh sorry to hear he got out of bed last night too!! Sounds like you're all a bit viral though. sad

Yep, keep venting. It helps me to keep my cool with the DC most of the time if I know I can come onto MN and swear to my heart's content.

OhGood Sun 14-Oct-12 18:21:09

It's a NIGHTMARE when they won't settle to sleep. You have my heartfelt sympathies. DD is not a great settler and it's just so freakishly hellishly disproportionately stressful to listen to her shouting / singing / 'Mummy'ing / crying etc when she should be asleep and I should be having time out. She is going through a good phase atm and it's totally changed my life - seriously, I am far less stressed in all areas of my life.

Things that have helped us - though my DD only 2.5 and I only have one and I have a DH to split the load, so how you are coping is amazing -

1. Followed HV tip to do some hand-eye co-ordination stuff before bed (drawing, puzzles etc) and no TV an hour before bed. Really helped
2. Totally rigid bedtime routine
3. Stopping losing my temper (sorry, don't mean to add any pressure, but it's true that she settles better if we are both calm)

Good luck, let us know how you get on.

GimmeIrnBru Sun 14-Oct-12 19:12:46

My first thoughts are 'overtired'. DS1 is 5yo and his bedtime is 7pm sharp. We find if he's in bed later than this he cannot get to sleep easy, he'll be up and down the stairs wanting x y and z....but when he's in bed sharp then he's not a jot of bother. You may want to bring water up with you when doing the bedtime routine, last call for using the toilet, etc. Make sure he's got everything he needs before you leave the room. It's sometimes easy to miss stuff when you're anxious to get time to yourself (been there done that).

You need space and time to yourself to unwind each evening.

dippyeggs Mon 15-Oct-12 17:48:41

Hi all. Thanks again.
Water always at hand..
Last night slightly better, made sure he had proper time with me and a chance to ask everything before I left him. I checked him as promised after 10 mins and he only called once... Phew...
He is with a sitter tonight as I am working but I know will be perfect so annoying (good too).
He is allowed to watch tv once dd gone to bed, something more grown up but that's the next threat that will go - sounds like its a mistake anyway...
I am, as I always have rewarded the good and ignored/dealt with the bad. Consistency all the way, he is just good at consistently ignoring me arghh
Thanks xx

seeker Mon 15-Oct-12 18:12:04

Do you have audio books?

seeker Mon 15-Oct-12 18:15:34

Oh, and when dd was a bit like this I used to come back in 10 minutes- I would put a timer on so I would be sure to remember.

She's 16 now, and when she was very tired and a little poorly last week, she said "check on me in 10 minutes?" when I went to say goodnight. It made me go all gooey- but bit does show how important these things are to them.

thewhistler Mon 15-Oct-12 18:29:31


It sounds as though you are going about it the right way for your Ds.

If he's too tired, can you get dd to bed earlier to keep the interval the same?

We have just done an equivalent with our teenage Ds, saying he wasn't getting enough sleep and nor were we, so we were all going to bed earlier. It took about 10 days to take effect.

Attachment is key. If Ds was unhappy, I would relax on my bed, saying as I went out, you know I'm not far away and with a light outside his door. I still do that if he is ill because the old worries surface ( and he is an ill child)

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