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Please help - toddler night wakings.

(30 Posts)
FrankiesKnuckle Tue 26-Apr-16 11:34:12

My beautiful, bright and funny almost 3 year old girl has almost broken me.
I'm sat crying on my stairs, just so down and so, so tired. I couldn't wait to drop her off at pre school this morning. I've shouted and actually screamed at her today, even crying my eyes out in front of her.
I cried leaving her. I think she was relieved I was going.

She wakes every night, at the very least once. 3 times last night.
The first because her blanket was scrunched up - rectified problem blanket then the whole charade of '1 more cuddle' 4 times over.
The second time belle had fallen out of bed - she's in a toddler bed and could've just reached out but oh no, it falls to one of us having to get it. Again, the 1 more cuddle game... She'll start flapping/kicking off if we don't.
The third, well that was just because.
We can't leave her to cry because she just gets louder.
She makes no attempt to actually get up herself, she'll just lie there waiting for us to come to her.
We've recently moved her from cotbed to bed - I thought it would help and it did. For precisely 2 nights. She loves her big girls bed though.
We also removed a chair from her room thinking that would stop the need for us to physically pick her up during wakings. She took it well, at first, now her tactics have changed.
We've tried gushing praise, rewards, treats, removal of treats.
Last night I told her I'd take all her books away (she has 4 stories before bed, another charade) she said ok, but don't take my sparkly light! It's a glitter lamp that's on all night. I've removed all the books from her room today and it's broken my heart.

She's never slept well. We had 6 months of absolute hell when she reached 8 months old. I had a sleep consultant helping me then, provided by my then LA. I was very close to a breakdown with the sleep deprivation.
She got better when we moved to a quieter area. Then it started again.
And here we are.
Nearly every night of broken sleep for all of us.
My husband does his fair share of get ups but just brushes it off saying it could be worse! What he means is that at least she's not in our bed every night but right now I'm bloody tempted to start.
So a 2 year phase. I'm so fucking over it.
I'm beginning to resent her. To not want to spend time doing nice things for her.
She CAN sleep. I know she can.
Yes she's had the odd bad dream or night terror and we deal with that but this I think is just plain old controlling behavior.
I live with a mini dictator.

Thank you if you've read to the end, it's turned into a bit of an epic tome.

Does anyone have any tips? Coping strategies? Drugs?

DarlingCoffee Tue 26-Apr-16 17:54:24

Oh no, sorry to hear you're having a hellish time. My daughter is three and a half and has never slept well either. It's maddening isn't it. I don't have a lot of advice to give other than to say you're not alone! We are just using repetition at the moment so walking her back to bed putting her in bed and saying night night it's bedtime now and not engaging in any further conversations. She also has a gro clock in her room so she knows that she should not get up until 'Mr Sun' wakes up. And then lots of praise when she does stay in bed. If she wakes in the night and moans I usually will let her grumble for ten mins before I go in, she will often fall asleep before then. I hope this helps, wine and chocolate for you OP

DarlingCoffee Tue 26-Apr-16 18:01:31

Also I would limit story time to one book only and return her books to her room. Just read your post again and seen she doesn't actually get up from her bed. In that case I would leave her to it! How long does she grumble for?

NickyEds Tue 26-Apr-16 18:12:02

Do you want the tough love version smile?

She is behaving like a mini dictator because you're behaving like a servant! When belle falls out of bed she makes no move to retrieve her because she knows she just has to ask and you or daddy will do it. She can just wait for you to come to her because you do. She knows you don't mean it when you say one more cuddle because she just has to kick off and she gets four. If you're sure there are no underlying issues then I could and most certainly would leave her to cry. If she gets louder then so be it. Are you off for the bank holiday? Why no use this week end to get tough? I'd have a baby gate across the door and I wouldn't be crossing it.

Sorry if that sounds harsh op but you sound so broken. My friend indulged the "my blanket's wonky, I need a drink, one more cuddle, teddy needs a kiss, the curtains are wrong" nonsense with her first and she was still being woken up twice a night when her kid was 6.

Sammysquiz Tue 26-Apr-16 18:15:25

This may not work if you've tried treats, but when my DD was being tricky at nights we put a small pot of smarties in her room (out of reach!) at bedtimes. The deal was that she could eat them in the morning, but everytime I had to come in to her room during the night I would remove one. It worked very well!

HeyMicky Tue 26-Apr-16 18:20:39

Glo clock is very useful here - you can refer her to the clock, if it's blue it's night time and she must be quiet

Could you do story time in your bed (and maybe limit to two) so the bedroom is solely for sleep?

And YY to bribes. DD used to get a smartie in the morning if she didn't get out of bed during the night

HelsBels3000 Tue 26-Apr-16 18:24:01

Sammy what a great idea! I also agree with Nicky - you are being walked all over here! You say you can't leave her to cry because she just gets louder - so what? Try ignoring it - she will get the hint.

ipswichwitch Tue 26-Apr-16 18:29:42

We have a poor sleeping 4yo. He's always been bad, then developed sleep apnoea and got worse. After his tonsils were removed we hoped it would stop the night wakings. It didn't. He now goes to bed no problem, but seems to be terrified each and every time he wakes in the night.

He has had night terrors and nightmares many times, but sometimes he's just plain scared. I don't have any answers as to how to stop the night wakings. If we don't go to him he gets more hysterical and frightened and takes forever to stop shaking and calm down enough to go back to sleep. The nights he come running into our room I just let him climb in bed otherwise he starts getting very agitated and screechy (shaking and trembling too, it's like he's been chased upstairs).

We have tried all sorts - reward charts, tough love (that went spectacularly badly), rapid return (but there's only so many times a night we can keep getting up, and last time it was 10x at least), and good old fashioned bribery. Nothing helps and nothing seems to remove this fear he has - when his apnoea was bad he used to be scared of going to bed so this is probably still with him.

Sorry I'm not much help, but just wanted to let you know you're not alone. I've had a breakdown from the lack of sleep, and it has affected my health badly. So I offer a hand to hold, and hope we can find a solution soon.

SurroMummy13 Tue 26-Apr-16 18:36:21

You sound like me 3 months ago.

Unless she's ill this doesn't happen any more.

We do Food, bath, lotions and potions then bed with a story then kiss and cuddle.

We went from water at before bed, and during the night, to nothing.

If she wakes, I ask her why she's awake. She gets cuddle if bad dream then straight back to bed.

If no bad dream, or she's just messing about she gets taken straight to bed X

FrankiesKnuckle Tue 26-Apr-16 20:46:55

Thank you all for taking the time to reply, it's really lifted me.
I know that I need to implement some tough love, but it's hard.
I don't believe she has any underlying issues - it's us that have that blush
Myself and my husband have abandonment issues (shitty childhoods) we find it so hard just to let her cry.
And she will cry. And wail and all out scream - it's heartbreaking..... And I'm being such a bloody pussy I know! I used to be well 'ard BC.
Bath/bed times have always been a faff and the book thing has escalated. Although saying that after telling her that I've taken the books away she absolutely settled for just one, I just don't get it! Out of sight out of mind obviously, why can't she do that with us?!
NickyEds think you hit the nail on the head. We are her servants. She makes no attempt to get up because she doesn't have to. ping! It's changing that mindset.
I like the smartie pot idea too, she'll totally respond to that and I may finally invest in a groclock.
Thanks again. Feeling a little less like the worst mother ever now. thanks

SurroMummy13 Tue 26-Apr-16 20:55:20

Don't let her cry it out, it's unfair on you and her.

Good luck, xx

BrightandEarly Tue 26-Apr-16 21:07:36

We have a nearly four year old who has never slept well. We're just going with the flow now - she will come out of her bed at some point in the night, into ours and then sleeps much better there. At least we all get some sleep this way.

Can you teach her to come to you? That's assuming you wouldn't mind.

FrankiesKnuckle Tue 26-Apr-16 21:23:21

We are a floor above her, I'd panic and probably sleep less than I already do knowing she might climb the stairs to us. That being said I'd take her climbing into bed with us right now, it's not as if much goes on in there at night!
Or I (or he, could take it in turns) to decamp to the spare room on her floor and have her sleep with us there. I just don't know.
We're away on holiday in 6 weeks, I was hoping that might change her.

Like I've said, we've both got abandonment issues so leaving her to cry really isn't an option for us.

oobedobe Tue 26-Apr-16 21:55:46

Reading with interest as we are experiencing similar with our 3 (nearly 4 yo)DD2. Ours was a great sleeper from 8/9 months - until she was well over 3, so going back to sleepless nights is torture!

We have reintroduced white noise, after she developed a fear of noises (wind, rain, storms), it helps a bit. We brought a gro clock, this helps with morning wake ups, but doesn't seem to help at night.

We were tougher on my DD1 but DD2 is more anxious, so I am not sure leaving her to cry would be a good move.

On a bad night we have 3/4 wake-ups and a good night none (rare) or one.

I know she just wants to connect/have a hug/kiss etc, but it makes me so cranky! At the moment I am trying bribes (a trip to a favourite place for 4 nights sleeping through), but I don't think she gets it, a more immediate reward such as the smarties trick might be better.

It is so hard OP sad

NickyEds Tue 26-Apr-16 21:57:17

You aren't a bad mother flowers. You wouldn't be abandoning her though. You can go to the door and reassure her that you are there, just not join in with all the pissing about with blankets etc, go to the door and tell her to go back to sleep. You crying on the stairs matters too.

Iguessyourestuckwithme Wed 27-Apr-16 08:11:14

I agree about leaving her to sort herself out. I would definitely try a reward chart.

Iguessyourestuckwithme Thu 28-Apr-16 17:24:59

How was last night?

FrankiesKnuckle Fri 29-Apr-16 21:42:21

She slept! All night!
She does this sometimes, restores my faith in that sometimes she does listen and that I'm not completely failing. She's such a happier little girl and I'm a happier mummy when she sleeps too, I wish she'd connect this pattern. I know it won't be forever, but it bloody feels like it when I'm caught in the moment.
Thanks for asking flowers

FrankiesKnuckle Sun 01-May-16 01:40:06

She giveth then taketh away.
4th time so far tonight.
And I'm on my own, arse.

MrsPatrickDempsey Sun 01-May-16 10:12:30

You sound knackered.

Look at it from her perspective: I shout/cry and mummy comes running. I say jump and mummy says how high. I note that you won't leave her to cry but she is now three and able to communicate her needs by speaking and not just crying, unlike a newborn or younger toddler. You sound really attuned to her and I am sure you can read her cries. To be blunt - you have a choice. As long as you choose to respond and attend to her she will carry on. She is old enough to be taught how to sleep. It's non negotiable. Have you still got a baby monitor which you can set up so you can talk to her through it? When you hear her cry you reassure and comfort via the monitor? It could be used as a transition so she gets the reassurance but you don't have to get up.
It is tough for you but you are not damaging her by teaching her to sleep and self settle. I know I sound harsh but you said it is now really affecting you in the daytime shouting at her etc so you need a radical approach to night time. Just be consistent. We are here to hand hold.

MrsPatrickDempsey Sun 01-May-16 10:24:28

Forgot to add - when my DD was a similar age she went through a phase of middle of the night playing up (need a kiss, duvet not right, etc). I was working nights at the time so my sleep patterns were mixed up enough. One night, for the third time of asking I told her that it was sleep time, she was fine etc and if I had to get up again when she didn't really need me she would be going on the naughty step. She called again as the curtain wasn't straight and I had to follow through. Bottom stair in the dark for 30 seconds. Might have been harsh but she never did it again and it in no way damaged her. She can't remember anything about it!

Iguessyourestuckwithme Sun 01-May-16 11:13:53

Agree. You need to do some tough love.

FrankiesKnuckle Sun 01-May-16 16:52:35

It turned into the night from hell. Up 8 times, I had to wake her at 0945 this morning so we missed her little kickers class today. It's so frustrating as we had such a nice day yesterday, just us two doing lots of nice things and I'm left feeling like why the hell do I bother. I'm not proud of it but I've shouted and screamed last night and generally been quite indifferent to her today. I feel like I'm losing at this. I feel like she hates me.
I do try and leave her but she escalates very quickly, and the noise! What my neighbours must think of us....
I know I've got to try harder, we had all this when she was 8/9 months old. I want to do it but it seems so much harder now.
Shes been clingy/whingy and downright bloody awful today (as have I).Thankfully H is back tonight.... No doubt she'll bloody sleep all night tonight angry

DrRanjsRightEyebrow Sun 01-May-16 17:01:25

Please read the Gentle Sleep Book by sarah ockwell-smith. Please. If you still decide to go down the tough, leaving her to cry, route after that then at least it will be after being fully informed of what that does to a person. It may resonate with what happened to you and your DH and you may want to break that cycle. It may help you, whatever you choose. I havent had more than 4 hours consecutive sleep in over three years but i can bear it as I have a good understanding now of my options, the repercussions of those options and what is causing the disrupted sleep/that it's 100% normal.

DrRanjsRightEyebrow Sun 01-May-16 17:11:01

Also, what happens to you in the first three years of your life sets you up for the rest of your life, in terms of confidence, character, coping mechanisms, attachment... You dont remember the first three years of your life but they lay the foundation for you as a person. So please don't believe that because they wont remember it doesn't matter. She's trying different ways to get attention because she needs your attention. Please don't punish that. Find ways to meet her needs while also looking after yourself. She doesn't have the brain development yet at that age to be 'manipulative'. Can you try sleeping with her until she feels safer and more confident? If you leave her to cry she will eventually stop, but that's because she's just learned that if she cries, no-one will respond so it's not worth bothering. That's a horrid lesson to learn. She will be quiet but her cortisol levels will still spike...

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