Sunday, May 26, 2013

Bedtimes Woes

Bedtime has been difficult around here lately.  Taylor and I will go through our normal bedtime routine - bath, stories, songs, prayer, kisses goodnight, and then I wait.... Wait for her to get out of bed 3-4 times before truly going to sleep. To prevent her from getting out of bed, I was camping out next to her bedroom door and sternly telling her to “lay down” every time she tried to get out of bed, but that got old.  I took some friends’ advice by putting her straight back into bed, laying her down, telling her “good night”, and then leaving the room – over and over again until I outlasted her and she falls asleep, but is this really normal?!

Tonight, was especially difficult, as she just cried and cried for me and was only content when I held her while she laid on my shoulder.  I’d get her to sleep and then she’d wake up even more tired and upset when I transferred her into bed.  It's a really tough predicament that I'm in, because I'm all for teaching her good bedtime habits and enforcing sleep, but it's hard to know if she's just truly needing some mommy time and cuddles or just working me.  See, when I get her home after a few days with her Dad, I wonder if she's just wanting to be close to me.  Has she gotten out of our routine that quickly?  She could just totally be playing me too and knows that I'm a sucker for the mommy cries, so who knows.

I just love her so much, and I want to do what's right. If having her cry it out and being strict with bedtime is it, then fine, but the questions and concerns about what the problem really could be consumes my mind. What IF she really just needs to cuddle with me?  What IF she's thrown off from being with mom, then dad, and back again?  What IF it's my fault and I'm really condoning bad sleep habits?  What IF something is bothering her that she can't communicate to me yet?  What IF it’s her teeth?  It's just heart wrenching to see your child throwing a fit and crying for you, especially when I haven't seen her in a few days. What IF she just missed me?  I know I missed her, so the cuddles are more than welcome.  On the other hand, what IF I'm giving her too much bedtime leeway?  Ahhh… the mommy guilt!

I NEED my time in the evenings to work, sleep, clean, relax. I rely on this time!  I have no problem whatsoever, putting everything on hold while I rock her to sleep, but she never required that time before, so I am wondering changed?  Did I do something to change this pattern?  She was a perfect little sleeper up until about 20 months old.  She slept soundly for 10-12 hours a night and napped for 2 hours each afternoon.  Maybe she is just changing some and learning where she can push her limits with me? 

Once bedtime is behind us, then comes the middle of the night challenge.  Most nights around 1 ,2 , 3, or 4am, she wonders into my room looking to spend the rest of the night in bed with me. 
I don’t want to make excuses, but it is hard not having a spouse there to help me enforce the bedtime habits.  When she’s getting up in the middle of the night, it’s just so easy to pull her up into my bed and let us both get the most sleep possible.  Sometimes I will take her back into her room and she goes back to sleep there, but if I am honest, I don’t do that a 100 percent of the time.  I just don’t know what’s right here – let her have some extra mommy time and sleep with me OR do I fully commit to always putting her back in her bed? 

I’m sure I’ll get lots of varying opinions here.  This is why it’s such a difficult topic.  I realize that some couples have a difference of opinion within their own households on bedtimes and sleep, so I suppose having a spouse isn’t always easier in this case.  She’s sound asleep now, but in my bed.  I fear trying to transfer her into her bed will wake her, so I will probably just leave her.  Now I am exhausted, so the housework and emails will wait…

photo   Good night.


  1. Just my humble thoughts....

    1 I think this is common behavior for a child her age especially when she goes between you and Dad's house.
    2 Maybe talk to Dad and both of you be on the same page. Does he have this same problem. If so, what does he do?
    3 I think survival and sanity are crucial for parents especially single moms - if that means letting her get extra cuddles and/or sleeps in your bed....then you will survive and be sane for the day!
    4 This will probably be a stage.....
    5 Some parents sleep with their kids in their bed/room for years.....
    6 Do NOT heap the Mommy guilt on yourself.....that will not be helpful!
    7 Maybe change her bedtime routine somewhat - does she need a light on? Is she drowsy when you are almost done with the routine? Maybe let her read books but stay in bed?

    Good luck! All parents go through these little challenges and you are still a GOOD MOM!

  2. Hugs to you. You have extra dealing with her coming home from dad's. But this is the age that I got mobi lights for my twins and let them "read" in bed. Helped so much! I had problems similar but they were from dad traveling a lot for work.

  3. We went through this with our son for years. We tried on several occasions to let him cry it out. We also tried relocating etc. none of it worked and all of us missed sleep and were tired and cranky. In the end we felt it was more important for everyone to have a good sleep than it was to sleep in his own room in his own bed. He's 18 now and he sleeps in his own bed and doesn't have a problem going to bed. Do what works for you and Taylor. This phase too will end.

  4. Being a mom and trying to do the right thing all the time can be mentally and physically exhausting. All you can do, is do your best, and it sounds like that's exactly what you're doing. My children are grown and if I could do it all over again, I'd show more patience, take the time to enjoy the moments and know...this too shall pass.

  5. First time commenter here - my son is 13 and I still deal with his heightened emotions when he comes home from his dad's. I allow him his feelings, but I don't allow him to treat me poorly because of them. He still gets extra hugs/kisses and a soothing voice, but once he tries to cross over into that territory of acting out/breaking household rules I have to reign him in. IMHO I think routine is key, no matter what you choose that to be. Trust in your love and realize that even situations that are tough for your children are good learning blocks for their healthy emotional well being. Just being there for your daughter will reinforce that mommy supports her.

  6. First time here for me too )I think) but here's my two cents: First, definitely check with dad and make sure you are both on the same page. That being said - it's highly unlikely you are both going to stick to the same routine and do things exactly the same. So, in that case I'll just say that my girls have been falling asleep in my bed since they were itty bitty girls - both were champion sleepers, but since I was a working mom who went to school, bedtime was the one time I could spend with them uninterrupted and it slowly became a habit in which they crawled into my bed at bedtime. We read or watched TV together and then I transferred them to their beds after they were asleep. They are 13 and 10 and still do this every now and again. And they are happy, healthy, well adjusted girls. Do what works for you - and don't feel guilty about it. :)

  7. I know we've had many, many conversations about the sleeping woes & you know we went through them with Cameron too. Once they realize they CAN get out of bed, of course they'll want to test the boundaries.. it's much more fun to be with mom than alone in a dark room, sleeping! Consistency is DEFINITELY key because if they have it in their mind that they MIGHT be able to sleep with you, they'll keep trying. We always found that we'd have a rough few nights, but as soon as Cam realized we were NOT budging, he stayed in bed. But, he's now 4 1/2 & still tries to play with us.. they're smart, they know how to get ya. Of course, with moms, it's emotional. I don't for a second think that this is easy for you.. I have Mike to not only take over for me, but get me back on track when I want to cave. He is much stronger than me & knows that they're just testing boundaries. Hang in there, you are doing an AWESOME JOB!!!

  8. I am no expert, as I have not gotten to this stage yet, but based on what I have heard and read from other people (and experienced with Sophie's recent issues with nap time), these are my thoughts: One, you have to decide what your boundaries are with Tay. If you don't mind her sleeping with you, then let her; if it's an issue for you, and you want her to sleep in her own bed all of the time, then Allison is right on, consistency is important. Two, Sophie already knows the power of a good cuddle and they are smart enough to use it to their advantage. For instance, she bit me this morning, and before I could get a word out of my mouth, she kissed me on the lips and hugged me like it was the last time she was ever going to see me. Smart kid, eh? Three, I read in a magazine one time that putting a baby gate in the child's doorway can help. The person writing the article said that for a few days, when she would go in to get the child in the morning, she would find her sleeping on the floor; but the kid quickly learned that the bed was more comfortable, and stopped getting up. BUT, you have to be willing to listen to the cries and ignore them (if you know she is okay).

    Ultimately, you are her Mommy and know what is best for her, and for you. And, you're a good Mommy, trust in that. :)

  9. I agree with the others. It sounds like you are on the right track,doing a great job and consistency is key so a talk with dad is in order.

    Your pediatrician is also a good source of information. When I worked as the office nurse, we had a hand out on bedtime. Self comfort and independence are huge things to arm your child with.

    What ever direction you go, please do not pile the guilt on yourself. Life can be hard enough and you are a good mom with a good head on your shoulders.

  10. Hi Lauren,
    I have not commented in so long but I happened to read this entry and wanted to give you some support. Since my kids were born, I have never felt that I had to follow all the "rules" for bedtime in order to make it work for our family. I tried the bath, books, bed routine...and it just left me feeling frustrated and angry when they wouldn't immediately go to bed or "respond" the way the books said they should. Well I'm not tired at the same time each night, so why should they be? I learned to let it go. Do what works for you. Now my kids go to bed when they want (some nights it's 10:30!) but we also enjoy a lot more evening activities and time than if they were to go to bed around 7:30 or 8. Plus they sleep later in the morning! (I stay home so this is workable for our family.)

    In the long run, will you ever say, "Man I wish I would not have shared my bed with my daughter?!" I doubt it! These are precious times and she's older now and probably dealing with a bit of confusion trying to sort things out and she just wants more mommy time when she has the opportunity. I truly believe that when my kids are clingy and whiny, it's because they need something that they don't really know how to ask for or I am not giving them enough true attention. I would never consider it manipulation or control, they just don't have the language to say "I'm scared" or "I miss you" or "I don't want to be alone" or "Pay attention to me!" Hang in there...things are constantly changing with kids behavior and patterns and you are her superstar, she just wants to be with ya!

    1. I'm tired around the same time each night, and if we let Cam stay up until whenever he wanted he may never fall asleep, not even joking. I guess every kid is different.

  11. Hi Lauren... I've been in your shoes with being a single mom (now married again with a second child) and I understand. I know how it tugs at the Mommy's heart and the guilt you feel. But I also know that you need to take care of you which will help you take care of your sweet girl even better. I kept my son in his crib till he was almost 3. He knew how to climb out of it, but I put a crib tent over the top... so helped my sanity! It seems you have already taken Taylor out of her crib and I don't know if you could go back to the crib. Or you could put up a baby gate at her door so she couldn't get out. I don't do the cry it out method with my kids, but I have done the Baby Whisper's method of Pick Up Put Down. You could research and see if this works with toddlers as well. Hoping sleep time is easier for you tonight!