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Bedtime craziness with 3 yr old and 5 mnth old

(15 Posts)
FluffyMitchell Mon 19-Nov-12 22:45:48

I have just had another draining couple of hours trying to get my DS (3) to stay in bed, while trying to soothe a crying, teething DD (almost 5 months). I find bedtimes especially hard as my DH works nights and is out of the house from mid afternoon until after midnight. DS is used to the fact that DH is not around 5 nights out of 7, so I don't think that is the problem.Things start off pretty smoothly. I bath DS around 6.30 and let him play/watch TV until 8 or so, then we go upstairs for 'storytime' (if I say 'bedtime' he has a major tantrum). I have tried putting DD in her cot while I read DS stories but recently she's been v.unsettled and cries so I have to bring her in and cuddle/feed her while we read stories. I often spend up to an hour reading and making up stories, and even after that, DS will get out of bed several times, say he's hungry, wants the toilet, is scared etc. Eventually he will settle down and I usually leave his room to go and (finally) have some quiet time to feed DD in our room. But he then gets out of bed to come in and messes about, jump on the bed etc and says he's not tired. This has been driving me mad the last few nights, and I am often lose my temper and shout at him. Even though I feel awful when I am being an angry shouty mum, it has no effect on him and he just keeps saying 'But I'm not tired."
Since DD was born he almost always ends up in our bed (he never did this before). He wakes up around 7.30am and does not nap during the day.
I would love if he would go to sleep or at least stay in bed at a normal time so I could get DD settled and finally have at least an hour to myself! I have even considered painting his room or changing the light fittings to something more sleep-inducing. I also try and keep him really busy during the day to tire him out, but it's not working. I know a lot of his behaviour stems from the fact that his little sister sleeps in a cot in our room and he is probably feeling a bit left out.
Any advice welcome, am at the end of my tether really. sad

QTPie Mon 19-Nov-12 23:10:16

Do DS and DD share a room?

Put DS in his room, read stories (personally I do 5 minutes + 5 minutes cuddle/chat with the lights out), "one last wee", beaker in room, no food, close stair gate into his room, last "hug and a kiss", goodnight, leave him to it (if he plays, empties drawers then fine).

Sticker/reward chart?

ellesabe Tue 20-Nov-12 07:36:50

Does he still have a nap during the day?

APipkinOfPepper Tue 20-Nov-12 07:50:53

Sympathies - I am juggling a 4 year old and 4 month old at bedtime!

Does the 3yr old have a nap still?

Is it possible he is overtired - have you tried taking him up to bed half an hour earlier?

Could you cut down on story time - I tend to find spending too long on stories takes my 4 year old right through the period when he is ready to go off to sleep, and into crazy over tired wide awake-ness!

DownByTheOcean Tue 20-Nov-12 08:16:24

Bedtime starts at 6pm in our house. Ds1 (3.5) has half hour wind down time in front of tv whilst I settle ds2 (5months). Ds2 has quick bath then feed and into cot at 6.30 (always 2 hours after he last woke). Could you try putting your baby to bed earlier so you can focus on getting ds1 in bed by 7.30 at latest?

As soon as ds2 is asleep I bring ds1 up for his bath then we have 15 mins books. He tries the 'I'm not tired/I'm hungry' line regularly but he knows it won't work and the big light goes off and he gets to have door open and hall light on as long as he is quiet. If he's making noise I tell him I'll have to shut the door which calms him every time. His gro clock has been brilliant at getting him to stay in bed until the 'sun comes up'. We also did a bed time box for a while to encourage him to stay in bed, a box full of little treats that he picked (new book, toy car, chocolate mouse...) and he got to choose one if he stayed in bed all night.

Ds2 goes to sleep brilliantly since I started his bedtime routine at 3 months (we won't talk about the 10 night wakings from 10pm onwards!)

notwoo Tue 20-Nov-12 08:24:13

I was having terrible trouble getting baby and 3 yr old to bed by myself until I started putting baby to bed first.

I bath baby first -3yr old dd either 'helps' or plays by herself.

Then I put tv on for 3 yr old and she watches half an hour or so while I feed ds to sleep.

Then she jumps in bath, has her stories and a cuddle to sleep.

I'm exhausted by the end of it but it does work. Before I'd been trying to keep them together but as baby got older and more alert it was getting harder. Divide and conquer all the way here!

And then it seems extra easy if dh happens to be in occasionally and can take over dd.

RichManPoorManBeggarmanThief Tue 20-Nov-12 08:31:50

Agree with other poster- baby in bed first. Then toddler. I get dd down by 6.30 whist ds (2.2) watches a bit of Peppa. Then ds in bath, quick story and in bed by 7. He rarely gets up as he knows I never crack. It's straight back to bed using the super nanny technique. They both get up at 6 but I don't care as means I get 3 blissful hours of me time between them going to bed and me going to bed

FluffyMitchell Tue 20-Nov-12 08:53:02

Thanks for all the replies. DS doesn't nap during the day, unless he falls asleep on a long car journey. APipkinOfPepper he could be over tired, something I hadn't thought of before.
Great idea about putting dd to bed first, I had been trying to do that because I think he gets distracted when she is still awake, but will try again tonight. I am envious of the lovely short storytimes, as DS hauls out about 20 books and says he wants me to read the all! I will try a new approach tonight and definitely be more firm.

DownByTheOcean Tue 20-Nov-12 09:27:05

Make it his choice, let him choose 3 books and tell him he can choose 3 more tomorrow. Making it seem like a special choice really works for us. Good luck smile

Girlsville Tue 20-Nov-12 11:17:25

It soudns to me like he is very overtired, and would ebnefit from goignt o bed a lot earleir,r egardless of whetehr he says he is not itred. It is a long day for him fromwake-up to 9 or 10pm.

DD1 is almost three and just dropping her nap. She is exhausted by teh end of teh day and goes to bed at 6.30pm (or 7pm absolute latests if we are running late). Prior to dropping her nap we were havign similar issues to you, with ehr taking yu to two horus tos ettle and gettign mroe and mroe overwrought and awake when she was actually exhausted.

For what its worth I bath DD1 and DD2 togetehr (dd2 18 months) at 6pm. then milk for dd2 whiel dd1 plays quietly updatirs and stories dfor dd2, tehn dd1 has quiet time and stories with me as older sisetr then bed. we have been doing it this way since dd2 was about 6 weeks old and it mroe ro less works. If I let dd1 downstairs tow atch tv while i put dd2 to bed, she would get so hyped up that she would never come updtairs happily and settle. Can't you do teh TV before you go upstairs for eitehr of their baths?

Overberries Tue 20-Nov-12 11:37:44

It's so tough cracking the bedtime thing with 2 of them isn't it? I have DS (3) and DD (6 months) and finally feel like I've got it sussed. Agree with other posters, the turning point was baby in bed first. I think the older ones pick up on the "just get in your bloody bed so I can feed the baby" vibes that I'm sure show through the lovely patient exterior we try to use!

I tend to bath both together then DS is allowed to watch a bit of a DVD on the portable (meant for car) player whilst I settle DD. When I come back to him now, he's happy with one story, one wee, one cup of water and one song...

HalleLouja Tue 20-Nov-12 11:42:53

I have tried to cut out TV close to bedtime as it can overstimulate them. Also, any chance of putting your 3 year old to bed earlier as they could be overtired.

We sometimes put a audiobook on for our 4 year old which helps him settle.

DewDr0p Tue 20-Nov-12 11:49:12

Baby in bed first, definitely. Then ds will feel like he gets you to himself, which may be the key here.

I wouldn't leave such a long gap between bath and stories either tbh. Either bring bedtime forward or bath him slightly later. We have a no going back downstairs rule, so they know it's bedtime.

Limit the number of stories, then it's lights out and be firm if he gets up. Stair gate across the door and ignore him if you need to.

I used to bath them together but take the baby out first, dry him, babygro on and feed him (sat on the loo!) while ds1 played a bit more. Then baby lay out mat in bathroom while I got ds1 out, dried and into PJs. Into our bed, finished feeding baby while ds1 had bedtime milk and maybe looked at a book next to me. Baby into bed, then time for story with ds1.

Hope some of this helps.

FluffyMitchell Tue 20-Nov-12 20:26:50

Thanks again everyone for the tips, i am pleased to say DS was asleep by 7.45 tonight! I made sure DD was bathed first then got him bathed and ready for bed. I let him watch tv for about 20 minutes, then made a big deal of putting DD to bed first. I let him choose 5 books and even though he got out of bed a few times after that, I just put him back in and didn't talk to him. DD must have picked up on the new routine as she hasn't stirred either. Feel like a new woman now!

scarecrow22 Tue 20-Nov-12 21:29:12

Marking space to lurk as expecting DC2 in spring and this is my biggest preoccupation. Partly because some us time at bedtime with DD (now 23mo) is so important to me too, and instinctively feel will be important to continue when baby in competition!
Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

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