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32mth-old is an abosolute nightmare to put to bed

(16 Posts)
arabellaandbaby Mon 22-Oct-12 13:55:35

It's got to the stage now that my husband and I try to push onto one another the tiresome task of putting our only child to bed because you can guarantee whoever has the chore of doing it won't have an evening that night.

We've got to the end of our tethers, nothing works, not even Supernanny's apparently fail-safe method.

She's very figety, keeps rolling and moving around, keeps singing and talking, and if you tell her it's time to sleep, she kicks and screams. She won't remain in her room.

My friend has a child of similar age - she puts him down, he's asleep in 5. I can't even remember a time that my DD was ever like that since birth. She's always been a nightmare to put to bed.

I'm absolutely furious that my husband and I haven't had any evenings together for a long, long time now. I get home from work at 7.30pm most evenings, and I'm tired enough. I can't be doing with having to spend over an hour, sometimes up to two hours, to put DD to bed any longer. Please help. I'm so going to flip.

LittleBlackDress Mon 22-Oct-12 15:50:07

My 3 year old was very tricky at bedtime recently. Is yours in a bed? We have child-proofed her room and put a baby gate on the door and now just leave her to it. She plays with her toys, takes all of her pants and socks out of her drawers etc, 'reads' her books for anywhere between 10 to 60 mins. She seems quite happy. She has tried the whole "I need this, that etc" routine, but we just ignore that. I leave her sitting on the bed and leave her light on. When she drops off, I pop upstairs, switch the light off and make sure she is all tucked in. She has only fallen asleep on the floor once. We just decided to stop trying to get her to lie down when we left the room etc. Took out a whole load of stress and now there are no arguments. Will be watching this thread with interest to pick up any other tips for when she decides to up the ante.

I do feel for you, it is soul destroying, particularly when you are both tired at the end of the day. Wishing you success very soon!

SamSmalaidh Mon 22-Oct-12 15:53:38

Does she nap? Maybe cut that right back/cut it out all together.

I second a gate on the door. Tell her after bedtime she can play quietly in her room but she isn't to come out or disturb you.

drjohnsonscat Mon 22-Oct-12 15:55:29

Poor you.

I don't know what Supernanny's methods are but it sounds like she's playing you. How long do you let her scream for? What are the punishments for getting out of bed? There's quite a bit you haven't said and I'm wondering if you have tried stuff and then tried other stuff and she's a strong-willed little thing and you haven't let her know that your will is stronger!

loveisagirlnameddaisy Tue 23-Oct-12 09:38:21

Have you tried the rapid return method? Am assuming she's in a bed as you say she comes out of her room?

Either that or put a gate on the door and explain the rules. You could try a reward chart at breakfast following a night where she's stayed in her room.

Also a night light might help if she's afraid of the dark?

HelloBear Tue 23-Oct-12 13:44:41

Have you had a look at the 'no cry sleep solution for toddlers book'. Not rocket science but saved my sanity (for a short time, have a new sleep issue now [cry] ).

My DD 26 months was taking 2 hours to get down, with exactly like you describe - going from singing, playing and chatting to heart breaking screaming/sobs. I have to say I slightly lost it myself, with the mixed emotions of guilt that I had somehow failed her in helping her sleep and also the strong desire to have some time to ourselves. Also like you my DH and I also had got into a 'stand off' situation around bedtime - I realise that this just made bed time worse as it was getting later and later.

It offers suggestions (and a lot of reassurance that you are not alone and this is NORMAL) but the main tip is make a plan of action and STICK to it, be consistent.

Good luck, it will get better at some point!

HelloBear Tue 23-Oct-12 13:48:23

Also when friends talk about their DCs bedtime, smile sweetly, nod and offer a polite 'hmmm'. But ignore, ignore, ignore! This will save your sanity and also I have a theory....people lie about their children's sleep patter and/or have selective memories about the 'bad' nights.

arabellaandbaby Wed 24-Oct-12 13:34:04

Comments from all of you are what makes me love Mumsnet. You're all very helpful and supportive, thank you very much! I'm so glad to know that I'm not alone in this.

Both my DH and I love our DD very, very much and despite her bedtime behaviour, she's still an adorable little girl, and so well-behaved during the day. It seems things take a nasty turn at bedtime but I don't know whether that's just our own perception of things. When we have that sort of behaviour from her during the day, we love that she is so active and chatty and sing-songy, and always full of energy. But that sort of energetic behaviour just doesn't translate well into nighttime when she should be in sleep mode.

I do try to make things calmer and quieter so that it sets her in the mood for sleep, but it doesn't seem to make much difference. Like HelloBear, my emotions get the better of me and I start feeling like I'm failing her by not being able to get her to sleep. I try to be consistent, put her back to bed, tuck her in time and time again, and like Supernanny suggests, I don't give her any eye contact at all, and only tell her "bedtime" the first two times she gets out then nothing at all on subsequent occasions, and just tuck her straight back into bed. She just giggles, calls out to us and thinks it's a game.

I have tried leaving her playing on her bed in the hope she'll drop off on her own accord, but she opens the door and comes downstairs to hunt us down and laughs when she finds us. I think I have to resort to the safety gate to keep her in the room. If she decides stay in her room, she'll stay up playing, and a few times, she's been playing even when my DH and I have gone to bed ourselves.

Sam, DD does still have naps during the day for 1-2 hours. I've considered dropping this nap but she's always rubbing her eyes and yawning after lunch. If we happen to be in the car, she drops off just like that. Am I wrong to think she's not ready to cut that daytime nap out just yet?

When would you all recommend cutting out the daytime nap?

Thanks again, all


UntamedShrew Wed 24-Oct-12 13:37:14

I have twins. One is asleep in five minutes and one is wandering the house hours later, sometimes - they're all different. So it is pointless to listen to what other kids are like at bedtime...

Definitely cut the nap. For my nightmare sleeper we cut it at 24m as we were having similar issues then. Replace with quiet time like stories or even television but no sleep. Hope that works and you get your evenings back.

drjohnsonscat Wed 24-Oct-12 14:54:38

You sound lovely OP. You are not failing her but I think you are enabling her.

You don't want to be tucking her in over and over and helping her drift off. That way she sees it's important to you to help her on her journey into sleep so she can play you on this. I think it's time that time was called on this game. You don't help her get to sleep. You organise a nice bedtime routine and then you leave the room. Her job is to learn to calm herself down and get on with the job of going to sleep.

You calm her, you read her stories, you tuck her in, you leave the room. Either you get a safety gate or you institute a punishment for getting out of bed (sitting on the stairs on her own for ten minutes). The end. I'm sure she'll scream blue murder for days b7ut your will is stronger.

arabellaandbaby Wed 24-Oct-12 15:10:21

Untamed Shrew and drjohnsonscat, thank you so much for your comments!

From what you've all said, maybe DD thinks we're pushovers and want to see how far she can go.

DH and I need to try to not help her drift off, and just leave her to it. I'm going to show DH these posts and get him to install the safety gate in the doorway of her room. She'll no doubt scream the house down. I do think we need to be stronger willed, drjohnsonscat, you're absolutely right. We will TRIUMPH on this one!!!

Untamed Shrew, I will take your sound advice and try to cut out the nap. It will be hard for DD, but hopefully it will help. I still don't understand how anyone can handle more than one at a time, so I really do admire how anyone, including you, can bring up twins! My DD is handful enough! You must do doing an amazing job as a mother.

Thanks again, for all of your kind comments and practical suggestions. Where would I be without MMers, eh?

x x x

drjohnsonscat Wed 24-Oct-12 15:32:12

I think that's it OP. You don't need to help her get to sleep. That's her job. She needs to learn how to do it by herself so all your interventions actually make her think she can't do this by herself.

That's not to say you send her upstairs and leave her to it. You create the right environment with lots of love and cuddles but then it's over to her. It's her job to go to sleep. You need to tell yourself that it doesn't actually matter what she does after that - if she's pottering around in her bedroom or whatever then fine but she doesn't get to muck about with you or DH during this time. Chances are she'll kick up a huge fuss to try to get your attention again but then when she realises the days of playing with you for hours are over, she'll get bored.

She is more than old enough to do this by herself but it might be a bit frightful breaking this habit! Good luck - you must be exhausted!

drjohnsonscat Wed 24-Oct-12 15:34:10

BTW, if you think it's too hard, might it be an option to think about hiring a sleep training nanny for a weekend?. I looked into this when I was having a horrendous time with my son (who was actually having sleep problems for medical reasons so slightly different). I didn't do it in the end but I did think that for a really entrenched problem, it might be worthwhile.

cbmum Wed 24-Oct-12 19:55:27

Hi. I agree with all that has been said. I have 2 DDs both of whom have put me through it sleep-wise! I'm 4 years in and only now just about getting reliable sleep.

My saviour was the Millpond Sleep clinic book. I was in the verge on getting some of their sleep counselling when we decided to give it one last push.

Given your DDs age have you thought about star charts and stickers as a reward for going to bed with no fuss? This worked a treat for us both for the 4 and 2 year old. After 5 stars mine get a prize. Something very small like a tiny chocolate bar or a pot of bubbles. We coupled this with telling both girls (they share a room) during the day what the 'rules' were for bedtime and getting up too early - both things were an issue an I was fed up of 5am starts sad

I also got a gro clock so I covered all bases! Although we still have some tricky evenings and mornings on the whole they know the rules and if they don't do as they are supposed to then they get no reward in the morning with no sticker!

As for the daytime naps I think they really need to go. My 2 year old has 1 hr only at nursery ( they wake her if needed) and when at home she may have 30 nuns if we are out in the buggy but that is it. My elder one has not had a daytime sleep since 2.5 but has a rest time in front of cbeebies which seems to work.

Good luck and hang on in there.

ClareMarriott Wed 24-Oct-12 20:13:51

No mention has been made of the fact that you say that you come home from work at 7.30 most evenings. Just wondering who your DD sees during the day? Is your DH a SAHD ? Does your DD think that if Mummy is home, then it's playtime ?

arabellaandbaby Wed 31-Oct-12 13:40:12

Hi all,

Again, your comments and suggestions are really welcomed.

I think the star chart idea is a good one, cbmum, I think I'll give that a go. It's something that I suggested to my husband just yesterday. DD loves stickers and rewards so this is something I will have to introduce.

ClareMarriott, no, DH is not a SAHD. He works full time too from 5am and finishes between 3pm and 5pm. He works longer hours than me! I do 9am til 7pm, but I have at least one hour's travel time in the morning and around 40mins in the evening. DH does do his best, bless him. He's always swept off his feet, poor thing. His break is when I get home so he gets to sit down only sometimes as late as 8pm. If I'm the one to put DD to bed, then I'll quickly have my tea, and then rush off upstairs with her and may even fall asleep on the floor trying to get her to sleep. If I don't fall asleep, then I will normally get back downstairs around 9.45pm, sometimes after 10pm, and plonk myself in front of the telly, by which time, DH is normally snoring away as he's just too tired himself.

DH and I are not in bad jobs, we just work long hours, sometimes I bring work home to work on over the weekend, and with DD being in nursery full-time, I can understand in some respects why it is that she might consider my coming home during the week as play time. She generally spends more time with DH and little time with me due to my working hours.

The star chart, cutting out the day time nap, etc as you have all suggested are going to be put into practice. We need to triumph in this one!

Thanks again, all.

Love A x

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