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long, hellish bedtimes with 2.4 yo and uncertain about nap dropping/reducing... any advice?

(21 Posts)
DuchessOfWeaseltown Sun 14-Jun-15 19:31:49

It's that age-old Hobson's choice, it seems, between a long and stressful bedtime trying to get her to sleep when she's just no tired enough, or her zinking out in 3 mins flat at 6.30pm and then waking frequently with overtiredness throughout the night plus an early wake (5.30ish) the next morning...

On days when she has her nap, bedtime takes over an hour, more commonly up to 90 mins, and is a hideous stress-fest of her running about, demanding toys/water/kisses etc, repeatedly getting out of bed (i mean REPEATEDLY, as though it's a reflex, 50 or 60 times in an hour) and this from a child who up until a few months ago would lie down happily in her cot, let me leave the room without a murmur and go to sleep contentedly about 15-20 min later. Now I have to stay in the room with her until she goes to sleep (which I think leads to a more unsettled night so I'd much rather not do) as it's the only way ot prevent her getting up every 30 seconds and finding new reasons not to go to sleep.

We have tried moving bedtime later but all that seems ot happen is overtiredness kicking in plus she is still in a strange sort of way not as tired as she needs to be iysim, due to the nap.

Have cut nap down to 1h30 maximum, actually more like 1h 15, but this doesn't help.

Have moved nap to 12pm so she is awake at about 1.15/1.30 instead of the 3pm she used to sleep until - doesn't help.

It just seems to be that if she naps in the middle of the day, it takes her 90ish min to fall asleep whether bedtime is 7.30pm (as it used to be) or 8.30pm. Haven't tried moving it as late as 9pm because this REALLY isn't practical at all, I need to work in the evenings so can't have this on-going messing about until that late and DH is often late home so all the re-settling falls to me.

(Also fwiw it is not really an option to leave her alone behind a safety gate in the hope she will just settle - she is NOT that sort of child (!) and will be physically sick with upset in that sort of scenario. Nor is it an option to repeatedly return her to bed without saying a word and hope she gets bored - did this several nights in a row (almost a week of it) and if anything it made the situation much much worse as she got very upset and stressed about being 'ignored' (her view) and it has taken almost a week to undo her resulting bedroom-stress from this... (she's a VERY sensitive little soul...!))

Anyway my point really is if it's starting to become time to cut her nap on this basis... part of me feels definitely not as she otherwise becomes overtired, sleeps badly and wakes early the next day.

But could I/should I experiment with moving her nap even earlier in the day and keeping it, say, to just one hour? She is ALWAYS knackered by 11am so I think she would go down happily for an hour or so then - it's often a huge struggle to keep her going until 12.

3 days last week she just WOULDN'T nap which is what, combined with the dreadfully long settle times, made me start to wonder about the nap being on its way out. She got through the day but was obviously a mess of tiredness from about 5pm onwards, screaming through bathtime, meltdowns all late afternoon... and then as I say she slept poorly and woke at 5.45am (usual wake time more like 6.30 on a good day)

So - I don't think cutting the nap OUT is the answer but should I try cutting DOWN/moving it earlier? Has anyone had success with this?

It seems quite young to me but my mum swears me and my sister never napped after age 2 so maybe it's genetic??!!

Thanks in advance and apologies for epic post!

DuchessOfWeaseltown Sun 14-Jun-15 19:32:27

Sorry - she's actually 2.3, not 2.4 - if that makes any difference?!

JugglingLife Sun 14-Jun-15 19:37:42

It's difficult, they are all so different. I would maybe try dropping the nap, then 6.30 bedtime. There is however always a price to pay which will most likely be the 5 or 5.30 wake up. Is her room completely blacked out?

DuchessOfWeaseltown Sun 14-Jun-15 19:45:43

Thanks Juggling! Her room is about as blacked-out as I can get it, a blind and curtains with the thick interlining... this time of year though some light inevitably creeps in, which I think isn't helping (in fact I remember pretty long settle times this time last year now I come to think of it - maybe it's just natural reaction to it being light until 9.30pm...??)

It was the nap refusal last week that alerted me to the possibility of her needing to drop it, but I still think she needs something...

You're right though it's so hard to know and it can actually be really difficult (impossible actually) to tell sometimes whether she's not settling because she's overtired or if not settling because she's just not tired. Sometimes it's obvious but mostly the results are very similar...

FlyingPirate Sun 14-Jun-15 19:49:14

Watching with interest as I'm currently battling the same problem with 2 yo

TheOddity Sun 14-Jun-15 19:51:40

Have you tried doing a bit of a cycle over three days, so e.g. Nap, nap, no nap with early bedtime? I find my 3.5 year old doesn't need a nap every day now but does occasionally and if I get it wrong it results in either over tiredness or wide awakeness.

DuchessOfWeaseltown Sun 14-Jun-15 19:52:25

Sorry, Flying, it's not much fun, is it...?

Am just so frustrated as she really was a great settler until so recently - it was hard-won too, as she was a dreadful sleeper til 13 months old, then we did a very slow process of gradual retreat and it was a slow-burn bloody miracle... I LOVED the fact I could pop her into her cot, leave the room and she'd just drift off. I bloody loved it sad and now we have these horrendous running battles (which am trying not to allow to become battles) every single night.

She is a bed now rather than a cot but tbh the long settling problem started before that, it's been about 2-3 months now that the long settle has been a problem and she's only been in a bed for 4 weeks and no, I don't know what the hell we were thinking moving her into a bed in the middle of the problem, either

DuchessOfWeaseltown Sun 14-Jun-15 19:53:52

That's good advice thank you, Oddity, and something I've heard mentioned on here before sometimes... when did you start doing that?

I guess I could handle a long hideous settle if I knew that the next night she'd be zonked out and snoring by 6.0pm...

JugglingLife Sun 14-Jun-15 19:59:45

It's hard but you need to stop that whole staying with her thing, you're making a rod for your own back and it's not what she is used to IYSWIM. Can you put another black out blind up? I know it sounds silly but my DH has just today put a second blind up in our room to get rid of the 5am light leakage. It was pitch black. Another suggestion is to give her some supper at bath time, just a weetabix or something to make sure her belly is nice and full to take her through to the morning. We're way past this bit now but i still have fond memories of DD2 kicking off in the night. have no idea how we survived the cantankerous little witch.

Dijon888 Sun 14-Jun-15 20:00:07

I would firstly try putting her to bed at 11 for 40 or 30minutes

Or dropping the nap and only letting her have an 11am nap when desperate (once or twice a week). She will be totally over tired by bed time but you just need to keep on going as it will be fine.

DuchessOfWeaseltown Sun 14-Jun-15 20:10:07

Thanks everyone!
Juggling, I know I know re the staying in her room sad I hate it as it feels like such a step backwards, I just literally couldn't face another evening of her running all over the house and refusing to get back into bed. I am not a patient person at the best of times and this is really a trigger for me to get very cross with her which I did a couple of times sad and I think that has now made her stressed about the whole bedtime thing. My plan (such as it is) is to stay in the room with her for a few more weeks until she's forgotten about it all and also forgotten that irritating reflex of getting out of bed after 5 seconds each time) and then try a gradual retreat/checking on her ever few minutes like we did when we first sleep trained.

Decent idea do you think or do you really think it's a huge error to stay at all?

One memorable night it was 10.15 when she went to sleep after 3 hours of running around and both of us ending up crying (I shouted and felt bad) so I'm just really trying to erase all that and start afresh!!

However dropping/cutting the nap would certainly play into my hands on this front as she would be so tired I don't think even she would be able to run around for long if I left the room.

Dijon, that was my instinct, to try the late morning shortish nap and see how we get on...

AppleCrumples Sun 14-Jun-15 20:25:35

My dd2 has been similar recently and we have actually dropped the nap in the last week or so. When she has a nap she will mess about (still in cot so at least confined) until well past ddl1 bedtime which caused no end of problems as dd1 is a 'difficult' child and the pair of them nearly drove me demented!!

Without the nap she goes up earlier (6.30) and is out like a light.

This age is awkward as they start not needing the nap so much but are still little and get over tired easily without. To reassure you dd2 is dc4 and all went through this phase and eventually grew out of the 'over-tired-without-a-napness' smile

DuchessOfWeaseltown Sun 14-Jun-15 20:32:03

Thank you so much AppleCrumples, that is honestly so reassuring to hear! I think I sort of envision this lasting until she starts school or something, and panic too that she will really suffer with the overtiredness thing in some sort of serious way (as opposed to it just making her INCREDIBLY ratty and fragile emotionally, which I can just about deal with)

In fact if I'm honest my parenting skills are MUCH better at dealing with a grumpy overtired toddler (I'm good at understanding hugs, and letting her have a good old howl) than at dealing with a rampaging diva at 9.30pm when I need to go and work until midnight... For that reason alone it's probably wise to cut down the nap as I really find it hard to cope with her on these late, messing-about nights and find my temper fraying.

noblegiraffe Sun 14-Jun-15 20:37:31

1 hour 30 is a pretty long nap, try 45 minutes first, that's about what my 2.5 year old has on a weekday.

DuchessOfWeaseltown Sun 14-Jun-15 20:44:56

Thanks noble (and hello, btw, I always remember your name from the Pregnancy boards as I think - in fact, obviously, from your post - we must have been pg around the same time - have Name changed a few times since then) - you are always helpful!!

Good to hear that 1h 30 is a long nap, that is reassuring in my quest to cut it down! She is such a grump when I wake her and would, if I let her, sleep another 30 at least on many occasions, that it can be hard to believe it's too long a nap... but I think if she really had it all her way she would have a southern Meditterean schedule of a 2+ hour nap and then bed at 10pm which just isn't practical for so many reasons, so she's always going to be woken earlier than she'd like and be grumpy about it.

I might try cutting it down to an hour first and then if that doesn't cause too many problems I'll trim it a bit more
Thank you!

AppleCrumples Sun 14-Jun-15 22:40:09

Glad to be of service duchess smile

I did try cutting the nap to an hour but it didn't work , mostly because I can't really move dd2 bedtime to later as dd1 would be a pain then she would mither as ds2 etc. Frankly I need the evening to be stress free as I am nackered by then!

Honestly though they go in phases and in fact once they go to school their so tired you have to give them an earlier bedtime for a bit!

Good luck smile

RigglinJigglin Sun 14-Jun-15 22:47:58

OP sounds like our house too, I need to work every evening and having a toddler leg it round at 9pm every evening gives me rage.

We're trying the nap nap no nap cycle with very limited success. Yesterday was a no nap day and I would have happily traded the satan-esque behaviour for 20p and some haribo. We counted down to bed time for the first time ever and then drunk whisky.

In short I have no answers, but cake wine in plentiful supply.

toomanywheeliebins Mon 15-Jun-15 18:40:13

I have had two children that have both dropped there nap by 2.3 (one was a dreadful sleeper, one is a reasonable one) and the bloody horrific bedtimes is the first sign that they needed to go. On one famous incident the 2.3 year old had a nap for 2 hours in the car and was up until midnight. I used to actually cry at nursery when they used to let her sleep because I knew hours of misery would follow. Dropping naps is always a transition so grumpiness is normal but just a phase.
FWIW I think this age is particularly bad anyway - both children without naps are challenging at this age and are v clingy. The youngest 2.6 is still quite bad and will often take a half hour to settle even without a nap. The oldest was Also the same at this age but thankfully at 4.5 I read to her, cuddle and kiss her and walk out at 8 for her to carry on reading until she falls asleep grin

DuchessOfWeaseltown Mon 15-Jun-15 19:42:55

Thank you so much Rigglin and toomanywheeliebins!

Only gave her 1h 15 nap today and at 11.15am rather than her usual 1h 30 at 12.30pm.

It's not reduced enough!!!

It's been an hour now and she is still singing in her bed, constantly getting up and saying she 'will never' sleep again...

Obviously there's some element that could be over-tiredness, but frankly I need the kind of overtiredness that is going to zonk her out at 6.30 rather than the kind that keeps her running around like a lunatic until 8.30pm (fwiw she was up at 5.45 am today so this really is turning into too late a bedtime...)

Wheelie, I can absolutely believe that you cried if they let her sleep at nursery... I might have actually lamped the nursery staff if they'd set me up for one of these hideous evenings even after being asked not to!!

toomanywheeliebins Mon 15-Jun-15 20:12:05

I never found reducing nap worked but could do for years.
I also had to accept that mine weren't like other children who happily had two hours nap and went down at again at 7pm until they were four. It was vvv hard especially when I had a non sleeping newborn and a toddler.
But now, when they have napped by accident I don't force bedtime and just keep them up until bed watching a DVD. Saves my sanity

toomanywheeliebins Mon 15-Jun-15 20:12:26

Could work for you not years...

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