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Please help. I cannot do this anymore. I am afraid I might snap if things do not get easier.

(85 Posts)
ElfOnTheTopShelf Wed 02-Jul-08 21:48:24

I have posted before about my daughter. She is three in October.
She was b/fed until 18 months so used to fall asleep on the breast until then. Until she was two, we used to lie on my bed to get her to sleep. For the last nine months we have been trying to get her to sleep in her own room. Its a fecking nightmare.
She refuses to sleep without somebody asleep in the room with her. Typically me - she doesn't want anybody but me at night time.
I have to sit next to her, sometimes she'll beg me to hold her hand, put my hand on her tummy, let her rest on my hand etc to go to sleep.
We have tried controlled crying, but she makes herself sick, every night we tried she screamed so much that she made herself sick, after about six nights, I've ran out of bedding and patience.
If I leave the room, she screams and becomes hysterical. And as time is going on, I too am getting hysterical. I cannot do this anymore. I know I am going to end up snapping and I do not want to hurt her. I just want her to go to sleep.
We have tried to get her more involved in her room - we got her to pick out new things for her "special room" including bedding for her bed, we've let her make it her space, but she just wont go to sleep. It can take at least an hour of me sitting next to her to go to sleep.
Please help. Do I just gate her in her bedroom, grit my teeth and stand in the kitchen?
I'm struggling, I really am.
I love her so much, but I just want to be able to say "sleep time" and her go to sleep without it turning into a massive battle.

margoandjerry Wed 02-Jul-08 21:53:10

no advice but bumping as that sounds really tough.

My cousin used a sleep consultant at a similarly trying point in her life and it was money well spent (though v expensive). Is this an option for you? Don't know how effective they are with older children as opposed to babies.

No advice but an absolute ton of sympathy from someone who can identify closely with the 'uh oh, gonna snap' feelings. I am sure you will get help here though, because you always will on Mumsnet!

Hang on in there.

Bubble99 Wed 02-Jul-08 21:58:04

Sounds like a daft question, but is she tired at bed time?

I ask because DS4 (two in October) is a nightmare to get to sleep and I've worked out that he just needs less sleep than his brothers ever did at the same age.

I've moved bedtime back by and hour, sometimes two, and instead of yelling the place down for ages before passing out - he'll now have a chat to himself and just sometimes a quick grizzle before going to sleep.

Habbibu Wed 02-Jul-08 21:58:09

Oh, I know that you've probably tried everything, but how about really really gradual withdrawal - hand on tummy to sleep for a few nights, then hand on sheet next to her (tell her during stories that this is what you're going to do, and repeat it a few times). Stick to that for a few nights, then just sit next to her, then a foot away, etc etc etc. You'll need a radio with earphones and/or book with booklight, to stop you thinking "go to SLEEEEEP!" constantly. I've only done this with one younger child, and it only worked because we accepted it would take a long time. The first few phases took forever, but after that it got quicker and quicker. I really do feel for you - it's very stressful and tiring.

FrannyandZooey Wed 02-Jul-08 21:58:56

she's quite young IMO to learn to go to sleep on her own when she has always been used to having you with her
at what point did you decide that it was no longer ok for her to have you there when she was falling asleep, and for what reason?

I think if you left it until she was older you would find it simpler - you've picked a difficult age IMO to teach self-settling - and you haven't mentioned teaching self-settling - just leaving her to it

FWIW my ds fell asleep with me next to him every night until he was nearly 3, at which point we gradually taught him to fall asleep by himself in his own room. It took several months but worked well for us. He wouldn't have been capable of learning before this - he wasn't ready.

policywonk Wed 02-Jul-08 21:59:22

Have you tried just not being in the house at bedtime, so that she knows there's no alternative? DS2 is very reliant on me for sleep, but when I was unavoidably away for a night recently, he amazed me by going to sleep fairly easily for my DP. He won't do it if he knows I'm in the house though.

Alternatively, have you thought about taking a step back, letting her back into your bed and trying to take the stress out of the situation for a few months before starting again? It sounds as though you've both become completely wrung out by the whole thing, but if you back down now you might find that you can both approach it more calmly further down the line?

Bubble99 Wed 02-Jul-08 21:59:43

You have my sympathy. I thought I'd got the hang of this parenting lark until DS4 came along!

ElfOnTheTopShelf Wed 02-Jul-08 22:00:44

We tried the gradual withdrawal, but she'll wake up, wide awake, the minute she hears me inch away from the door (even if I've sat for half hour whilst she looks asleep).

She is tired at bedtime, she can start the bedtime routine saying "I'm tried mummy, I'm tired" but its like she just doesn't know how to go to sleep.

Habbibu Wed 02-Jul-08 22:04:38

Hmm. The other thing we did was find a story she just loves and promised I'd read it out loud outside the door - it's the Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton. I stand outside the door and read it (recite it as I know it Off By Heart), and then sometimes she has a music CD on to listen to as she sleeps. I don't know - maybe pw and Franny are right - take a break for a while, gather yourself, and then make a plan - perhaps involve her in making a special sleep plan that you can start in a couple of months?

Friendlypizzaeater Wed 02-Jul-08 22:04:47

Have you spoken to your Doctor. My LO was a horror till I controlled cried him (which took weeks !) and then never had any problems. Fast Forward to him being about 4 and he would not go to sleep at night - he got an ear infection and it made the room spin - he quickly latched onto this and then when he was better complained about the room spinning - had him checked at doctors and he was OK. Every night we where having a good couple of hours battle - eventually I went to the Doctors about it and he prescribed some PHennigan (sp) to give hime for a week to break the cycle - it worked !! Didn;t want to give him drugs but just needed to snap him out of the habit.

Good luck smile

mrsruffallo Wed 02-Jul-08 22:06:45

This time will pass, Elf.
I just wanted to say that it's important to look after yourself at this time, eat well, have an early night, drink lots ofwater, and then when you have the energy start trying to leave her again.
The first step could be pottering in her room instead of laying next to her, or a reward system for letting you leave just before she nods off of a night.
I think the danger that you fall into is the seething resentment/nger at having to be in the room and therefore you are short tempered and bedtime becomes about stress and you dread it.
I would never shut them in a room.

hoxtonchick Wed 02-Jul-08 22:08:02

my dd is very similar, though slightly older at just 3. i too b-fed her until she was 18 months. she much prefers me to be there when falling asleep, though dp or grandma will do at a push.

essentially, we've decided to roll with it, make bedtime as stressfree as possible until she's old enough to go to sleep by herself. like bubble's ds, she doesn't need much sleep at all, so i consciously try & tire her out during the day, & don't try & put her to bed too early as it's just frustrating for everyone. sometimes as a treat she sleeps in ds's bed (he thinks it's a treat too!), or we've had some success with friends coming for sleepovers. oh, & both children stayed with my parents for 3 nights at easter with no problems, so i do know she's playing me a bit....

sorry not to have any instant answers. she will grow out of it eventually. this too shall pass.

ElfOnTheTopShelf Wed 02-Jul-08 22:08:08

We decided when she turned two that she needed to start going to sleep in her room, though at that time we were with her, not expecting her to just nod off. Up until that point she was falling asleep on our bed and she would sometimes wake up when we tried to move her.
Ideally we would like her in her own room (even after the long getting to sleep battle, she's often up at twelve and pottering into our bed, when I'm too knackered to start the whole process again), I want to be able to teach her how to get to sleep, but I just dont know how to do it, what I have tried, it isn't working.
I have tried tiring her out before bedtime - we went walking for an hour the other night but she still took two hours to get to sleep. I have tried not being in the house, but mostly she just begs "get my mummy" if dh/ others are looking after her.
I have tried the routines - bath at seven, ready in bed for half past, story, then saying I'm going into the bathroom/my room for a minute etc to go out the room but she just gets hysterical.

Habbibu Wed 02-Jul-08 22:09:15

"I think the danger that you fall into is the seething resentment/nger at having to be in the room and therefore you are short tempered and bedtime becomes about stress and you dread it." Ain't that the truth? I could never get dd to sleep when I felt like that, and it's such a bloody vicious circle. I found just reading in her room helped me forget a bit why I was there...

FrannyandZooey Wed 02-Jul-08 22:10:51

"its like she just doesn't know how to go to sleep"

she doesn't - she doesn't know how to go to sleep without you there

children do learn this eventually, at their own pace, if you leave it long enough, or you can teach them - gradually is best IMO especially at this age

I think a story / music tape is a good idea
one thing I always considered for ds but never got round to was a very special light that changes colour gradually, or makes patterns, or something similar - you know the type of thing I mean? this would only ever be switched on at bedtime

mrsruffallo Wed 02-Jul-08 22:13:04

Elf- I would stay with her, to be honest.
I would tell her you are going to stay, tell yourself you are going to stay, and make a plan for a couple of months time.
She will prob fall asleep much quicker with a calm happy mummy and child, sleep gets associated with good things again.
I do believe that sometimes they just need you at that time

From what you've said so far Elf it sounds like the whole thing is a big tangle of anxiety and stress and anticipation for you both. I do think in this instance maybe just downing tools and going with the flow, be it later bedtime, cosleeping, whatever you feel will avoid this battleground, is going to be the best course of action until you've been able to regroup. You sound exhausted with this, stressed out and nearing the end of your tether.

If you start trying to 'take action' while you're in this frame of mind and your daughter is also anxious about bedtimes then you're setting yourself up for a fail. If there's one thing I've learned in the 11 months of battling with DS and his lack of sleep it's that acceptance is the first step on the route out of any diffculty. It allows you to let go and chill out about things a bit (easier said than done, I realise) which then means you can be more patient and objective when you do embark on changes.

mrsruffallo Wed 02-Jul-08 22:13:47

Habbs- reading in her room v good idea

Piffle Wed 02-Jul-08 22:13:57

crikey elf tough one, obv you need a solution if you feel like snapping. Quickly.
is there anything like a cd? Dvd? She'd accept? Swapping one for another but giving you some respite?

margoandjerry Wed 02-Jul-08 22:15:06

Franny's right that she literally doesn't know how to do it by herself, I think.

Might meditative type tapes help at her age? She's old enough to follow the instructions I guess?

Another friend of mine had similar probs - her DD had severe medical probs which meant she always had nurses in the room at night and equipment whirring and stuff. When she was finally free of all that (about 4) she had never learned the techniques of self settling and self calming and I know it was hard to teach but she's ok now (7).

I think perhaps also pw is right that it's time to take a step back. Can you go back to your old routine for six months and start again when you're all less fraught?

Habbibu Wed 02-Jul-08 22:16:08

Yeah, mrsr - I felt a lot calmer. DH preferred radio, turned into a nice chilled time that we all enjoyed. Did feel bloody miraculous when she started to just fall asleep without us! Get everything you need in room, Elf, and make it a nice time for you - get calm again first, and make plan later.

ElfOnTheTopShelf Wed 02-Jul-08 22:18:10

we had felt near Christmas that we were turning some sort of corner, whereby I could stay in her room for about half an hour and then I could go downstairs. She'd keep calling us upstairs for a kiss and cuddle, which we did, but then she'd drift off. Not such a painful battle. But then I got taken into hospital at Christmas and she (understandable) became very clingy afterwards.

I just feel terrible. I sobbed and sobbed on Sunday night.

bythepowerofgreyskull Wed 02-Jul-08 22:20:16

just another thought to add into the pot..
are you missing her window sleep wise..
I know if the boys are over tired getting them to sleep is a nightmare.
taking time long bath not functional, mummy in the bath with her?? lots of stories and cup of milk on the bed, not suggestion about sleep until she falls asleep.

you are right battles about bedtime can be so horrid for everyone.

Do you have a good friend / family who can come for a couple of nights to help support you and DH during bedtime?
(I am thinking about the support people on the parenting programs get from having someone with them whilst tackling these things)

aside from that I just want to wish you good luck... it will happen, I hope it does before you reach the end of your tether. smile

margoandjerry Wed 02-Jul-08 22:21:35

oh Elf there's a lot going on here sad. Time to give yourself a break, I think.

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