3.5 yo bedtime

(17 Posts)
BrightandEarly Tue 22-Mar-16 21:32:21

At this stage I'm not sure if I'm looking for advice, or just sympathy. Or anecdotes from others going through a similar thing.

DD had always been a terrible sleeper. She's now 3.5 and bedtime has gone from bad to worse.

We start at 7pm (me, DD and 2yo DS). By 7.45pm they've had bath and stories, and DS is happily singing in his cot by himself before going to sleep.

DD, on the other hand, is in her room. With me. And an audiobook on. Faffing about not listening to the book. Refusing to lie down. Refusing to have her duvet. Refusing to have her pillow. Wanting her pillow. Wanting a drink. Wanting an ever changing selection of cuddly toys. In ever changing positions.

When she finally settles down to listen to the audiobook (it's "the rabbit who wants to go to sleep") she does fall asleep, but by this time it is 8.30pm or later. And then she'll wake in the night and come into bed with me.

I am not a huge fan of the 'leave her and silently return her if she comes out' method. I've done the 'moving closer and closer to the door' method and yet we are back where we are.

She's not great with star charts (we tried one with potty training and she lost interest in the prospect of a new toy).

So what's left?? I do this until she goes to university confused?? There are worse problems I suppose but I would love some time back in the evenings.

DH, incidentally, often works late or travels. He tries to get home in time and then he does the 'audiobook' session, but with the same unsatisfactory results.

Muskateersmummy Tue 22-Mar-16 21:36:38

Our dd (nearly 4) is also not the best sleeper well at least not in her own room. She used to be fab at going straight off to sleep but lately is playing for time. I generally leave her to it unless she's crying. Last night she threw all the covers, pillows, teddies the works off her bed (some out of her room!) in protest. When I went up to check on the quiet she was asleep on a bare bed ...

She always appears in our Room at some stage during the night but that's OK by us.

So no advice but your not alone. Speaking to many of my mummy pals, it seems to be a phase that many are going through.

BrightandEarly Tue 22-Mar-16 21:59:14

Ah thank you musketeer! It's good to know I'm not alone, and your story of throwing teddies and pillows around and sleeping in a bare bed did make me smile!

I don't mind her coming in in the night either, really. It's the bedtime saga when I'm tired and chores are still waiting to be done downstairs that's quite wearing.

My main hope now is when she gets a new bedroom in the summer, with a proper big bed, we can make a big fuss about big girls going to sleep by themselves at that point.

icarusandhiswings Tue 22-Mar-16 22:02:54

You know what you have to endure to solve this. The question is can you face it?

Put her to bed, say good night and give her a kiss. No audiobook, no offering drinks or pillows. No more eye contact. It is time to sleep. If she gets out of bed, return her gently (but don't say a word and do not linger). Sit in the door way if you must, but do not engage.

Sounds simple, but will be 3 - 7 nights of hell.

I couldn't do it, but wish that I had.

Muskateersmummy Tue 22-Mar-16 22:05:20

We just leave her to it now. As long as she not crying, I leave her to play/"read"/sing whatever. There is only one rule. Don't come out of your room.

So I put her to bed. Leave her with her singing teddy and a book. You can listen to songs and read for a bit. Not getting up and I'll be up to see you later. I then go downstairs, do whatever I need to do and don't go up unless
1) she's out of her room
2) she's crying or shouting for me
3) it's a while later and it's all quiet, then I pop up to check where and how she's fallen asleep!

BrightandEarly Wed 23-Mar-16 10:09:21

Hmmm yes icarus I don't think I can face it. Plus I have DS to consider and can't have him waking up or getting distressed.

What happens when I leave DD room is she comes running out crying immediately.

Aargh. Thanks both

minipie Wed 23-Mar-16 15:30:04

Does she have a nap?

If she doesn't then I suspect 7.45 is too late and she is overtired by then, hence all the bouncing around. Watch her carefully from say 6pm onwards and see if there's a time she seems to be a bit sleepy/quiet - if so that's probably the "natural" bedtime you need to aim for. If you miss that "natural" bedtime they can get a second wind which makes them a bit hyper.

The difficult bit is how to get DC1 to bed when DC2 is still up... I have the same issue and haven't figured it out yet...

Of course there can still be some element of delay tactics even if you get the timing right (and then you do have to be tough), but I find it's much less if they are feeling sleepy rather than hyper.

SupSlick Wed 23-Mar-16 15:34:10

I hear you OP. 3.5 DS is a little shit bad sleeper. I posted on here a few weeks ago because bedtime started at 6.30 & lasted until 11pm when he finally gave up demanding things & conked out.

I've started a "we're not going to sleep we're just resting" and making him keep very still so he doesn't wake his teddy up.

I've also lied & started the bedtime routine off earlier but told him its later than it is.

I hope our children learn how to sleep! flowers

BrightandEarly Wed 23-Mar-16 16:27:18

Ah thank you both thanks

Supslick we haven't had 6.30-11pm yet so should count ourselves lucky. Poor you sad

Earlier bedtimes sound worth a try, although on the days I work (three days a week) I pick up from nursery at 5.30pm so anything earlier than 7pm will be a challenge. She may well be overtired, we usually have to wake her up in the morning. She doesn't nap.

I think she struggles with the 'pressure' associated with going to sleep, and with some sensory issues around her head / legs / feet getting too warm with the bedding. When we listen to the audiobook I always say we're just resting and listening which does seem to take the pressure off a bit.

But then part of it could also be that she likes to have 121 time with me when her brother is asleep.

FurryGiraffe Wed 23-Mar-16 19:19:25

It sounds plausible that she's overtired and a slightly earlier bedtime would be beneficial. My DS (a bit younger at 2.10) really needs the light off for 7-if so he'll be out by 5-10 past. If light out 7.20 it could easily be 8 before he's asleep. We also do a 5.30 nursery pick up (at the earliest) so I sympathise- getting him to bed for 7 is tough, but it's worth it when we can manage it (sometimes it just doesn't happen).

DS has also had lengthy spells of not wanting to fall asleep alone etc and while gradual retreat worked fine at about 18 months, when he had a later sleep 'relapse' it just didn't work. What we did instead was to say 'DS mummy will come back in one minute', leave and then come back in one minute. Then we said 'back in 2 minutes', then 5 then 10. He cottoned on really quickly to the fact that I will come back and that was clearly the reassurance he needed- within a couple of days he stopped shrieking when I left the room. We still do 'I'll come in 2 minutes' every night, and he's almost always asleep before the 10 minute return. Made for a much shorter bedtime/longer evening and very little stress all round to implement!

SupSlick Wed 23-Mar-16 19:29:28

I totally get the "pressure" thing you mention, as soon as I mention it's nearly bedtime, DS gets himself into a tizz like he's really worried about it.

Probably a random question but does she have asthma/inhalers? My DS does & they make him quite agitated & hyperactive so I've started changing the time I give him the doses.

We'll get there OP

onedogatoddlerandababy Wed 23-Mar-16 19:51:12

Soooo, my dd1 was terrible, had to sit there til she fell asleep, sometimes by 8.20 others at 9.15, sometimes so frustrating and annoying that dp and I would swap before we snapped...
In the end, I made some remark shortly before she turned 4 at nursery pick up that once she was 4, she'd be big enough to go to sleep on her own without me sitting in the chair. She seemed to go along with it but she had her birthday and that night we did exactly that.

Stories in the chair, into bed, cuddles & kiss, light off, lullaby and monkey puzzle and then me out of the door.
She was totally fine, I went in to check. Only one night in almost two months has she got out of bed again and I just took her back. We are now down to one/two stories depending on the level of dicking about instead of getting ready for bed, but we have story, light off, into bed, cuddles etc then lullaby and then good nights and I go. She has asked me to check on her after an hour tonight, sometimes it's half an hour. I am out of her bedroom by 7.20 every night.

Oh and we don't use a nightlight anymore either. Especially not a blue one (worst type of light apparently).

As you're a bit of a way off 4, perhaps you could big up being 3.6 yrs instead??grin

Good luck!

But you are definitely not alone in this - now if only my 2 yr old would start to regularly sleep through.

Rest assured she will not want you there when she is 14 gringrin

minipie Wed 23-Mar-16 19:59:45

My solution to the pressure thing is to say she doesn't have to go to sleep, she can chat to her favourite toy instead until he (note, the toy, not her) gets sleepy. Seems to work...

Bringiton2016 Wed 23-Mar-16 20:05:43

You're going to hate me for this, but you're way too soft. She's playing you like a goodun! It's a battle of the wills and your will must be stronger than hers. As a pp said, the crying is awful to sit through but it will only last about 5 days. No dc needs to go in their parents room at night. The gro clock tells them when they can come in from the morning.

This advice is from someone who had 2 under 2 and who went through absolute hell with sleeping issues.

Chilver Wed 23-Mar-16 20:08:02

I also think maybe an earlier bedtime, also no audio book as it might be stimulating her?

What has worked for us, from around the same age, was to get her ready for bed, read a story, tuck her in and then leave her with a little spotlight on next to her bed for 5 mins. Then after 5 mins, if she isn't already asleep, we come in, turn off the light (not engaging) and leave.

The premise is that we trust her to stay awake like a big girl and she can play, sing, read to herself - whatever - as long as she doesn't get out of bed. If she messes around, cries out for us, gets out of bed - then she loses the privilege of being a big girl with the light so the light goes off immediately.

Works a treat for us smile

BrightandEarly Wed 23-Mar-16 21:44:44

She is both anxious and quite 'energetic' (oh joy), not asthmatic though. I think the rabbit book we read is very good for her as it talks her through relaxing, putting thoughts in a box by the bed, letting legs and arms go heavy etc. It's just a challenge to get her to lie down and listen properly.

I already leave the light on, both while I'm in there and when I leave (main light on a dimmer).

I find being really tough quite hard for all sorts of reasons (partly associated with my own upbringing, partly because I am not sure how well it works with her, partly because I'm just so TIRED!).

I think our best chance is earlier bedtimes, and a clean break associated with new room / birthday / some other invented milestone, when we start doing things differently.

If that doesn't work we may have to try the tough thing. DH is on with her now and it's 22.45 where we are at the moment sad. Mind you she did have an unscheduled nap earlier.

Sorry to others also going through fun and games like this.

SupSlick Wed 23-Mar-16 21:54:58

Don't do something that makes you feel uncomfortable OP, I know it's worked for others & may even work for you but I similarly could not listen to my son be devastated & scared in his room alone, but maybe I'm just mega soft & that's why my sons a terrible sleeper.

I have got stricter in a way though, but a tear-free way, lots of warnings about when bedtime will be etc, so it's less of a "right all done, sleep, bye!"

Totally agree, make a big deal about it. Apparently they'll be shattered once they start school!

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