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Desperate for my 3yo to sleep!!

(18 Posts)
sleepdeprived666 Fri 10-Jun-16 21:59:50

I am a young lone parent to a brilliant 3yo lg. Due to our current financial situation (I work part time in an incredibly low paid job, but hey ho) we are sleeping in my parents spare bedroom. So far we've been making it work, but for the past 2 months or so bedtime has become a battle which often ends with mummy crying and lg awake until gone 10pm. We go into our room at around 7pm and sit on her bed and read stories, usually one each, before getting comfortable. I then tell her 'time for sleep now' and read her one last story. It was always then when she would fall asleep, 15-20 minutes max. These days as soon as the story finishes she has whispered one sided conversations, recites the alphabet, whispers songs, you name it. I've tried ignoring her and waiting it out but she would go on for hours. I've tried calmly but forcefully saying "its bedtime" but that guarantees screaming, shouting, kicking, slapping, spitting and a whole host of horrendous behaviours she never shows any other time. I have also reluctantly tried bribing and blackmailing when all else has failed, to no effect. The only thing I've not tried is leaving her to fall asleep by herself. I've always enjoyed spending the time with her at bedtime and I would hate to give that time up but I'm running out of options!
Sorry for the awfully long post but I'm desperate for some advice!

PeaceNotPieces Fri 10-Jun-16 22:12:55

Sounds like she's after attention?

Maybe with the lighter nights she isn't as tired and more reluctant to go to sleep when it's so bright outside?

If I were you, I would get a black out blind or something over your bedroom curtains to make it darker.

Do you give her a bedtime bath? Could you do that maybe? Start the bedtime routine half an hour later?

Plenty of outdoor fun in the day too. Fresh air knocks mine out cold....eventually!

Chin-up . dc all go through these phases. My 3 year old plays up too atm, but I think it's the lighter nights tbh

sleepdeprived666 Fri 10-Jun-16 22:24:59

I think the lighter nights are definitely not helping! I have a very strict daytime and evening routine which we've had in place for the past 12 months. She is in nursery 3 days a week, home at 5.30, tea, bath, pjs, a jigsaw or board game and then she gives her goodnight kisses and goes off to pick her bedtime story. The days she isn't in nursery I try very hard to stick to that same routine.

I think she could very well be after the attention, I know I struggle to give it to her through the evening after long days in work and with mountains of things to get done for the next day. And she gets a good laugh out of me getting cross with her when she refuses to go to bed.

I feel like my only real option is to just put her to bed and leave her to fall asleep by herself, I just wish that wasn't the case because our one on one time is so rare between work and sharing the house with nanny and grandad sad


VocationalGoat Fri 10-Jun-16 22:27:36

You poor thing. I feel for you. I was a lone parent with DC1 and I remember well those days when he was three and we lived with mum and dad and he wouldn't sleep. I think the lighter nights don't help but I find with my younger two (DC1 is now 14 and is a big brother) who are 6 and 2, the afternoon walk home from DC2's school (which I combine with a dog walk/run around with the kids on our nearby meadow) really, really helps. I also push back their bedtime to 8:30. They're ready to drop by then and the bedroom is a bit darker. At 8:30, there's just no battle. They're zonked.
Could you take her to a local playground at around 4 or even 5pm for a little run around, then back home for tea and a bath?
I also recommend massaging the kids... not my 6 year old so much anymore but when she was younger, as well as DC1when he was small, and now with DC3, I would massage them after a bath. You can get a bottle of sweet almond oil online for a couple of quid. If you want, you can add a drop of lavender oil to a tablespoon of the almond oil and massage down the legs, the arms, stroking the face.
My problem is, my two year old goes down a dream, but from midnight onward I'm up and down like a yo-yo still. And there's no way I am doing midnight baby massages. smile
But as she winds down and settles into bed, you might want to give baby massage a try.

VocationalGoat Fri 10-Jun-16 22:32:19

Maybe she's a little wound up coming in at 5:30.
Can grandparents collect her earlier and look after her from say 3:30 so at least she can wind down at home and be in a more relaxed place when you come in from work?
Nursery always wound my kids up. I was in exactly your place with DC1 work wise as well. What helped me was when my mum (as I'd mentioned, we were living with her and dad) would collect DC1 a little earlier and have him settle down at home in the afternoon before I came in. I found with both my older kids, they needed to almost shake off nursery at the end of each long, long day.

sleepdeprived666 Fri 10-Jun-16 22:38:13

I'll try anything! Baby massage sounds like it could actually be something worth trying, she has always calmed down and almost zoned out when I stroke or tickle certain areas.

I think a walk could be beneficial, somehow she's still a bundle of energy coming home from 9hour days in nursery and 6.30am starts!

I've thought about adjusting bedtime until she's worn out completely, it just worries me that some days we have to be up and out of the house before 7 to get to nursery so she's waking at 6 and if her bedtime was much later she wouldn't get enough sleep. I suppose anything would be an improvement on 10pm!

Thank you for your advice, definitely given me easier options to consider!


sleepdeprived666 Fri 10-Jun-16 22:40:58

Grandparents used to pick up earlier, which was a great help. I just worry I ask too much of them. They have her of a Tuesday while I'm in work as they are both off so it saves me about £60 a week in nursery fees.

I know they would never say no if I asked, its just difficult to not feel as though I'm asking them to do too much


Pollyputhtekettleon Fri 10-Jun-16 22:44:21

What are you doing in her bedroom, it's obviously disturbing her. Read story and then out. Go downstairs and let her go to sleep. Or am I missing something major here?

AlexandraEiffel Fri 10-Jun-16 22:48:53

My son can be like this, similar age. I lie there and pretend to be asleep, he then tends to follow.

sleepdeprived666 Sat 11-Jun-16 07:26:46

Pollyputthekettleon- The point I've made several times is that I don't want to just leave her to go to sleep. That's never how I've done in and for three years its not been a problem. I doubt I'm disturbing her by sitting with her and having a little cuddle.
The problem seems to be that she can't switch off, that's why I try to wind down from early on, but its not working and I don't know what else to do.
Its not as simple as 'read story and out'.

Pollyputhtekettleon Sat 11-Jun-16 07:47:53

OP whether it's what you've done before or not children grow and their needs change. A 3 yr old is far too old to not be disturbed by their favourite adult in the room when they are supposed to be relaxing and going to sleep. What age will you keep doing this until? I know it's not what you want to hear but I think you are being unfair to her by not letting her go to sleep in peace.

sleepdeprived666 Sat 11-Jun-16 08:20:38

Pollyputthekettleon- Thank you for taking the time to give me some advice, ill be sure to bear it in mind.

VocationalGoat Sat 11-Jun-16 08:33:29

And we have a winner. That was quick! The parent with the perfect solution has come over the hill with her 'I'm better at parenting than you' cavalry. There's always one OP. confused Meet our winner, Polly. Say 'Hello', Polly.
Yes Polly, you are missing something. People parent differently. I doubt very much that story, bed, leaving room and closing door at this stage would result in nothing but tears and anxiety. There is nothing wrong with that approach for some kids but it's probably not the right one in this case.
OP, you're doing nothing wrong here at all. Three is a lovely age but it is a tough age. I just think 0-5 is a tough time- yes it's mostly beautiful and endearing but there's that constant need to put boundaries in place and it's pretty exhausting stuff... especially when our methods we put into practice aren't working, which happens a lot of the time. There's so much trial and error when we're raising our kids. And the learning curve is pretty steep. The majority of us struggle with parenting and sleep is an area where I think nearly all parents hit a wall at some stage or another. What's difficult is that there is no quick fix. There isn't really a magic bullet. It is very common, very, very common for children around the age of 3 to develop a bit of anxiety. I am actually remembering DD, who is now 6 and a splendid sleeper, at the age of 3 being incredibly difficult to get to sleep at that stage. The massage really, really helped (though of course there were the 'eyes popping right open, alert and ready' just as I thought she was settled and I could stop and lay in the bed to read or leave the room to get a cup of tea). Try it. It may help a lot. The absolute solution tends to come with time. In the not too distant future you won't be struggling with this.

That's the good news: this won't go on forever or even for much longer. But it would be great if you could find solutions now. Being under-slept while juggling parenthood and a job is no fun at all. You have all of my sympathy! But between 3-4 it really began to correct itself on its own.
I found my kids overtired yet buzzing after nursery. I think the excitement of seeing mummy after a very long day away from her is a big, big deal. Even if you have a garden or a communal garden or playground nearby where your DD could have a swing/slide for 15-20 minutes might actually help 'shake the day off' so to speak.

I know how you feel about asking of your parents. I was so dependent upon mine with DC1, especially since his dad had fled the scene and just wasn't there to help pick up any of the slack. So I had to turn to mum and dad to be my extra pairs of hands.

Maybe they could do a 4 or 4:30pm pick-up. That hour earlier at home could make all the difference. It would help your DD to wind down at home, in her own environment and just settle. This is just an aside, but what has seemed to buy me time with all three of the kids and what settles them down are these crayons called Woody (made by Stabilo). I have no idea what it is, it's the design and the fact that they really are lovely to draw and colour with, but they are a worthy investment. They're about £9 a pack, which is ridiculous. You need a small loan for them. But wow... best £9 you might ever spend. I can't recommend them enough. Between cBeebies and sitting at the table with a stack of paper and Woody crayons, that hour with granny before you come in the door from work will fly by. She can draw pictures for granny, for mummy, for the neighbour's cat in the yard, or a friend at nursery. To this day it's the one thing (and cBeebies, of course!) that buys me time to have a cuppa and go onto MN and sit upon my 'Know-It-All perch. grin

She could even just come home at 4/4:30 with granny and watch some Peppa Pig. Just unwind. I really think there's so much to shaking the day off. They are like tired little buzzing bees. Afternoons and evenings are definitely 'the witching hour(s)'. It just gets a bit more manageable with age.

An hour earlier isn't much of an ask at all. It's manageable for your parents and helpful for you and your little girl. You sound so lovely and so considerate. I am sure your parents would be happy to help you with this.
I am sorry to sound like some know-it-all. I just feel your plight and I know exactly how you feel about wanting to just have some time with your DD. You want her to sleep well but you also want to connect with her after long days for you both. She's your world. But you also need your own time in the evening, just to catch your breath. I used to come in from my job at 6pm to my mum and boy and I can remember how knackered I was. I could fall asleep standing up because my son wasn't going to sleep at night. That's when I started the massage. It did really help.
More flowers and hugs.

sleepdeprived666 Sat 11-Jun-16 09:02:00

Thank you! I really was starting to worry id made an awful decision to do bedtimes this way. I feel id be far more unfair to leave a three year old to go to sleep by herself when I know my dd and I know it would leave her anxious and upset. Who in their right mind would put their child through that for an extra half hour in front of the telly? I'll sit with her all night if it means her last thoughts when she's falling asleep aren't sad or worrisome ones!

Obviously this isn't going to last forever, I suspect it wont be long at all before she wants to go to bed by herself and all I get is a kiss and hug goodnight and she goes off to bed on her own, so it might be selfish but I want to spend this time with her while I can. I posted for some friendly advice on how to make this a nicer time for both of us, not how to put an end to it.

Thank you for your help VocationalGoat, this weekend I think ill start with a play in the garden before bath time to burn off that last energy before a bath and ill definitely be picking up some oils to try the massage.

I think I will ask my parents to pick dd up from nursery an hour or so earlier, my mum knows I'm having a bit of a tough time with bedtimes so I know she'd be happy to help me. Just have to get over feeling like I ask too much!

Thank you!

Pollyputhtekettleon Sat 11-Jun-16 09:16:22

I was just trying to help the OP. I was also going to add that it is a delicate balance of different things and different personalities. But fundamentally my opinion is that most 3 yr olds will struggle to sleep with a parent sitting waiting with them.

Good luck op. I am sure you are an excellent parent and never meant to imply otherwise. I personally think (and you did ask opinions) that your child will settle better without you in the room.

Pollyputhtekettleon Sat 11-Jun-16 09:17:59

Oh and Vocational, you seem to know it all too. But in your case I guess it's just 'advice'.

sleepdeprived666 Sat 11-Jun-16 09:47:31

Thank you Polly. I think it was just as you said, not what I wanted to hear. Nevertheless, I do appreciate your advice. I would just like to feel as though I've exhausted all my other options before leaving her, probably for my own selfish reasons as much as for dd's benefit (not saying that's right but its one of those things).

Estluc2016 Wed 15-Jun-16 12:17:00

Hi there,
My first ever post and just wanted to give my virtual sympathy..totally with you, I'm single mum back with parents and almost 3 yr old who has never slept more than about a three hour stretch. Was coming on here thinking about posting and saw yours..once she's asleep I feel I can cope but it's getting pretty desperate up til then and tbh it's nice to know I'm not alone. Not much help I know xx

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