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August 11, 2008

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Maria Wood

Is there some kind of late-summer bedtime gremlin? We've been having settling-down problems too, this past week or so.

Earlier in P's life, when she was almost 3 and stopped nursing down reliably we started a rotten period of me totally losing my cool because I could not *make* her go to sleep. We had very rough times that I am not proud of. But eventually I got through it (mostly) and to a stage where I'm able to say to myself "She WILL go to sleep eventually, she ALWAYS does" and to accept that the more accepting I am of her going to sleep process the shorter it is, and the better for my blood pressure.

I remember clearly the night it changed. We had reached a breaking point where I was turning into a parent I did NOT want to be, and of course making things worse (because yelling GO TO SLEEP is a really good way to get anybody to calm down, right?). So I got her into bed and got a huge stack of books, with the idea that I was willing – and happy – to read to her for as long as it took, no pressure on either of us. I was really surprised when she drifted off after only a few books.

In the year and a half or so since then, it's been easier. She's also gotten older and her schedule has become more regular, so I don't take all the credit for being a serene and peaceful mama, but I did learn a really good lesson about how much my mental state affects her that night.

Madeleine

Oh, this is me, too. I recognized some time last year that I am the bedtime problem as much as Snuggly Girl is. But I still screw it up regularly. I just don't wanna be the bigger person sometimes.

Our latest problem, though, is a recent spate of getting-back-up can't-sleep trouble. We had two separate incidents of inadvertent caffeination (Brazilian Guarana Soda, dudes. Just say no.). And now even without it we've got trouble. Leave the door open! More nightlights! I just can't sleep!

On my list for today is googling "meditation for kids" because ordering her back to her room is only the first step -- she needs some help with what to do when she gets there.

hedra

A boy and a bear (or something like that) is a title we have.

I also highly recommend the book The Sleep Ponies, which starts out a little too narrated, but teaches basic relaxation through visualization, plus has fabo art. We got that for Mr B because he's a horse fan, but it is really useful for calming back to sleep - and it seems more useful for some kids to think 'I don't want to scare the ponies away, I'll be very quiet and still and calm' rather than trying to do it for themselves (especially when they don't WANT to). Hmm... I need to add a section for 'books that help my kids sleep' in the parenting books page...

And oh, sometimes I don't want to be the bigger person, either.

Maria Wood

Such a good way of putting it Madeleine! At the end of the day when I just want her to go to sleep already I am so not into being a grownup!

We have gone through the wake up and can't go back to sleep thing too, especially a week or two a couple of months ago when it became a regular routine. We cosleep and I started putting her in her own bed when she woke up at 4am and kept me up. It wasn't punitive at all, just that I could not sleep with her awake in my bed and I needed to sleep! She cries and says she wants to be with me and I feel incredibly bad about it, but I decided the damage from going that route was going to be less than the damage from either me freaking out because she was keeping me up or my bad parenting the next day if I didn't get enough sleep. Lesser of two evils, which was not how I imagined my parenting philosophy when she was an infant, but seems to be a frequent decision making tool.

Cassie

@Maria Wood - totally losing one's cool because you can't *make* them sleep - completely me, from almost exactly the point when he stopped nursing completely to sleep, sometime not long after 13 months. It makes me SO nuts, and I regularly lose it, and then feel SO guilty. SO guilty. I like your idea of completely changing up the bedtime routine *and* letting her know that you were happy to be there for as long as it took for her to relax and go to sleep.

Hedra, any other practical tips on "dealing with me as the problem"? I know the kind of parent I want to be at bedtime, I know that bedtime is one of my achilles heels, but I keep falling into the same behaviour, and can't seem to get out of it...

hedra

@Cassie, I'm working on a list. Should be up maybe tomorrow (if I can get that far writing it...).

Marita

Amen on the problem with bedtime is me.

I'm usually so exhausted by the end of the day that most of my resources are directed at controlling my temper.

We lucked into a great routine through part of our Autism therapies with a visual bedtime schedule that helps to keep us all on track.

I'm trialling 3 months with no tv in house. Oddly it has made a significant difference to bedtimes - more of an impact at this time of day than any other.

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