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toddlers sharing a room how did you teach them to not mess about at bed time?

(43 Posts)
lighteningmcmama Sun 06-Jul-14 11:41:06


4yo ds and 2yo dd share a room and they play up so much, and they feed off each other. They actually look at each other after I've said good night in a 'we can mess about now' kind of way. It's driving me potty as I'm 26w pregnant. Please tell me what you do or how you taught your kids to sleep nicely.

Roughly what we do now is-dinner, bath most nights, stories, lights out and a prayer, then they used to sleep well. Stories start at 8pm. Neither nap in the day.

OutragedFromLeeds Sun 06-Jul-14 13:24:21

Divide and conquer.

Put one to bed first and wait for them to fall asleep before sending the second one in.

Otherwise it's just too tempting for them, laying awake in the dark matter how much they know they mustn't!

Needaninsight Sun 06-Jul-14 13:27:35

Agree with above. Plus a 4 yr old isn't really a toddler is he!

Ihateparties Sun 06-Jul-14 13:33:29

As of yesterday we have 3dc sharing one room <mild panic>, they are 6, 4 and 2. The only thing that vaguely works for us is as above, putting them to bed one at a time and ensuring each one is asleep before the next one goes. The older two have been sharing for 18m now and we haven't figured out a really fail safe way of eradicating the faffing about completely. Luckily in our case they are all sharing to facilitate building work that will give them all their own rooms. If they still don't sleep then I'll probably just you know... Move out. grin

daisydalrymple Sun 06-Jul-14 13:39:15

I would try starting earlier too. At 2 and 4yo stories would have been 7pm for my dcs. They may well have pushed through the sleepy stage by 8pm.

purpleroses Sun 06-Jul-14 13:39:21

I used to read DC1 a story sitting on his bed speaking quietly whilst DC2 fell asleep. She'd already had her story and want really old enough to follow DC1's.

Of that fails the way to do it is to stand outside their bedroom door and tell them to be quiet at the slightest noise. Get your DP to bring you a drink or have your phone or laptop to keep you occupied. Make it clear you're not going anywhere until they're asleep. If they're tired it won't be long til one of them drops off. It's the going downstairs and leaving them to it that makes them feel they can mess around.

mousmous Sun 06-Jul-14 13:41:27

we do the bed time routine.
read stories separately and the just leave them to it.
turn lights off with a firm 'night night, time to sleep' after half an hour or so.
I think messing about with siblings is lovely, I have fond memories doing so with my siblings.
just have good rules (no jumping on beds, no noisy toys).

MiaowTheCat Sun 06-Jul-14 13:44:27

I have a 1 year old and a 2 year old sharing. Add to which they're both bloody climbers so in toddler beds and not cots!

1 year old goes to bed first... I'd like to say we spend enriching time reading endless stories with the 2 year old while we wait - but in reality we nick daddy's bed (she thinks this is hilarious) and cuddle up watching the bedtime hour in a darker quieter room with no toys in... then we put the 2 year old to bed.

She gets one chance to be returned to bed if she gets out (teddy rescue missions excepted), and then if she continues to mess around she ends up in a travel cot in our room... huge carrots of a nice activity promised for the morning if she stays in her bed - things like we'll paint pictures, we'll play in the garden, we'll go to the park, today's was we'd make muffin mini pizza for tea... not totally out of the normal level treats but just naming something nice semi-planned for the following day so she's got something to focus on. That seems to be starting to pay dividends now - we've just gone through an absolute shitter of a time with chaos descending most bedtimes and the one strike and it's the boring travel cot, coupled with naming something to go on the next day, seems to be working at present!

We use a white noise light show as well while both of them drop off - just seems to muffle any snuffly sleepy noises from the other one while they do so.

slightlyinsane Sun 06-Jul-14 14:20:22

My dds have been sharing since dd1 5 dd2 2, we have always had the same routine, bath, story bed. Then we leave them to it for a while with some books. A while later, no more than 20 minutes we'd pop back up. Majority of the time they'd be asleep others wed just say it was time to sleep.
I don't think you can completely stop the messing about it's part of being a child, I remember doing it. Make time in their bedtime routine for a bit of messing about time so that if they do it's not eating into their sleep time.
These days I can go up and find ds asleep on the girls bedroom floor after they've had some messing about time. Over time they'll learn when to stop playing and go to sleep. If your looking at long term sharing like us I think it's important to give them some time after they'vegone to bed to hhave some sibling time that they think isn't being overlooked by parents. Mine now discuss alsorts of things, from something they saw on tv to something that happened at school. theyre bbuilding a really strong relationship and I'm going to nurture this for times when they need support and mum and dad just don't understand cos we're boring or too old.
My sisters teenage kids have had similar upbringing and recently her ds has come out as gay, all done with the support and encouragement of his sister.
I know I've gone off topic slightly but what are los do at a young age feed into the rest of their lives. And don't get me wrong the bedtime messing about can be really frustrating but my advice would be let them do it, just give them the time to do it.

lighteningmcmama Sun 06-Jul-14 15:25:48

Thank you all for your replies!

Atm I stay in the room, I tried recently leaving after lights out with the idea in mind that a bit of messing about is fine as many have said, and I agree with, especially the bit about building sibling relationships. But how do u keep them in the room. Tbh I can live with the messing about of they stay in their room, but they come out straight away.

I was waiting outside as suggested, but it became a game but of waiting till mama comes to put us back to then I started waiting on a rocking chair a little further along the hallway but the same thing happened.

So how do you teach the kids to stay in their room?

Also if you split bedtime what does the other one do? Dh is hardly home at bedtime, and besides they're quite close, they love playing together so I can't see how I could do that without them both wanting the other one...I know this would help massively if I could work it out but I just can't get my head round how to implement it.

Thanks again all

donkir Sun 06-Jul-14 15:46:33

I would suggest a consequence they are both old enough to understand that if they do not stay in bed then in the morning we won't go to the park or you won't have your half hr of tv. Simple but effective.

OutragedFromLeeds Sun 06-Jul-14 15:55:09

You tell DS that as he's a big boy now, he doesn't need to go to bed at the same time as DD.

Bath, pyjamas, stories both together. Then you take DD up, while DS has some 'staying up time' (I limit this to reading/drawing/board game/puzzle or sometimes a bit of TV). He should be able to entertain himself for 15 mins, while you settle DD.

Maybe read him an extra story while you wait for DD to settle or do a puzzle etc with him. Then take him up once DD is asleep.

Ihateparties Sun 06-Jul-14 16:02:02

Dunno if my two year old is abnormal but in no way would she be able to modulate her behaviour at bedtime based upon potential consequence occurring tomorrow. 4yo is also touch and go on that, she'd probably think it over and do it anyway...

lighteningmcmama Sun 06-Jul-14 16:46:36

I think my kids are similar to ihateparties...dd wouldn't link her behavior to the consequences (she's only just 2). Atm I'm taking away privileges but he doesn't seem to care that much. Today he's got 6 nice things taken away because of repeated misbehavior at bedtime yesterday. What is happening is that today h4 will probably sleep well now-but tomorrow he well go back to normal (going by how it's worked last few weeks)

I'm so sorry I sound like I've asked for advice and now I'm just saying the advice won't work! Maybe I can't see the wood for the trees at the minute sad

lighteningmcmama Sun 06-Jul-14 16:48:14

Sorry that may not read clearly, I was talking about dd at first then I switched to talking about ds. Hope that makes sense. Thanks all for your time and help

AryaOfHouseSnark Sun 06-Jul-14 16:56:29

It's hard isn't it, I have 4 year old twins and we have blips where they just muck around at bed time.
In your situation I would put a story cd or cbeebies on for ds then put dd old to bed. If 2 year old is in bed at 6.30 you could try 7.30 for ds ?
I know how you feel, nightmare bedtimes are horrible hope you get it sorted soon.

donkir Sun 06-Jul-14 16:58:51

How about rewards then rather than the taking away. An empty jam jar with marbles is a good visual. So for every excellent behaviour you add a marble for every not so great you take one away (getting out of bed however many times counts as one marble). If they get 10 marbles they get a treat. This could be a magazine or trip to the park. Perseverance is the key to any type of behaviour you'd like to change.

Ihateparties Sun 06-Jul-14 17:09:39

I'm also on my own a lot at bedtimes and have the same situation with them coming out of the room. There is also blatant flouting of "the rules" such as no bed jumping, stair based madness, personal injury, breakages etc.

I tend towards thinking that sometimes the standard approaches don't work in the same way for all children. All three of mine have quite different approaches to sleep (and many other things) what works with one just plain doesn't with another. No single approach works. Which is an issue when there are three of them and one of me most bedtimes.

I really like the idea of allowing a window of messing about time, we've never mastered it as there doesn't seem to be an end point (this stems from one dc ultimately who is in other contexts pretty easygoing and generically compliant). Sleep and bedtime seems to be her "thing".

lighteningmcmama Sun 06-Jul-14 17:25:15

Thanks again all. I think I will give the story cd a go. I cut out all screen time after 5pm recently having read that it can interfere with sleep hormones before bed. But I think I need to give the splitting them up a go, as so many have suggested it I need to try it. And I know ds did like some story podcasts we listened to on a journey recently.

I also love the marbles idea, I think ds will really respond to that. We did penny in the pot for potty training when he was 2 and he loved that. And I like the way it involves rewards as well as punishment.

Thanks for taking the time to help everyone.

lighteningmcmama Sun 06-Jul-14 17:28:00

Ihateparteies your describing exactly the kind of behaviours I'm having to deal with. And similarly there never seems to be an end point to the messing about.sad I'll try the above and see what happens

OutragedFromLeeds Sun 06-Jul-14 17:47:53

I think the problem is there are some things that are just too tempting for a marble/trip to the park/sticker to prevent, and messing about at bedtime is one of them ime. It's just too fun! If you give them the opportunity, they will take it. The only foolproof method is to take away the opportunity.

or tie them to the bed

Kikaninchen Sun 06-Jul-14 17:57:06

Mine have a story CD, both lie in bed listening to it.
It is a bit harder finding something they both want to listen to, because of the age gap, but if we hit on something good they both lie still, and the little one usually is asleep before it finishes.
Have to be careful though - I scared the crap out of the younger one by attempting to play them Fantastic Mr Fox. But both love the Enormous Crocodile and lie silently agog for The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark and a whole load of fairy tales CDs I got free in the paper, so we generally have peaceful evenings.

MiaowTheCat Sun 06-Jul-14 18:36:02

I've found it's just key having the younger asleep though - mine would love messing about time but they'd never STOP messing about - it just spirals when I try to do it that way and ends up in chaos. Thankfully DD2 could sleep through the end of the world so if she's asleep when DD1 comes in - she's out for the count... but if she's even the slightest bit awake then it's like an audience feeding the silly behaviour.

Otherwise it's a case of DD1 - book over head and zonk usually!

Because of the layout of our house we have to have a stairgate on the rooms upstairs as a primary safety line - the plasterwork is that shite that I'd never trust the top of stairs one (it's come out of the wall umpteen times) - it's mainly there just for a visual "you shouldn't even be thinking of this" extra deterrent.

I've also found you can con our two by leaving the telly on in our own bedroom so they think we're still rattling around upstairs and won't try it on as much!

Ihateparties Sun 06-Jul-14 19:24:31

The story cd or podcast is something I might try. Putting them to bed one at a time is a bit of a house of cards for us, often enough one of the younger ones will end up not going to sleep when you expect them to, then subsequent bedtimes are held back, which doesn't go well for the school age one. Or the scenario where dd1 has been quiet for half an hour so I take ds up and discover she has been lying there quietly waiting to begin her mayhem.

To be fair to him ds needs no incentive to stay in bed under normal circumstances, never has (he went for protracted screaming as oppose to multiple exits) but in the face of dd1's activities he is powerless to stay in sensible mode. Sensible mode is still relatively tenuous most of the time anyway, even at 6.

The 2 year old is very much the easiest to persuade, which is probably a combo of personality and age. Also I'm yet to really see her as a room sharer though as tonight is only day 2.

I can't help thinking there must be a way to build a routine or system that allows for some faffing time without it automatically leading to mayhem.. I just haven't found our particular version of it.

lighteningmcmama Sun 06-Jul-14 19:57:31

I'm worried about the house of cards scenario too because even on their own they can take a while to get to sleep. I don't know how it's going to play out Tbh but I'll give it a try.

I wanted to do stair gates in the door too but dh was against the idea.

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