Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Long Goodnight

Burning Question of the Day: How do you handle kids who keep getting up and up and up out of bed even after you have read the story, sung the song, given the kisses, turned on the CD, and said the prayers? And maybe you've even read the story a couple of times, and changed the diaper a couple of times, and sung the nighty-night song more than once, and the kid is STILL popping up?
Specifically, I'm asking about bedtime policy. I understand the importance of routine, and we've gotten better about that. Our routine has become regrettably long, but it is in place. We've even broken her at last of taking bottles to bed. But this means she has no happy juice lulling her reliably to sleep. Now, she will willingly go to bed, but then, unless she is dead tired, will jump out five minutes later to yell for us. Over and over and over again she will yell for us to put her back to bed, until she has at last exhausted herself of the whole tucking in process. This could mean she gets up twice, or it could be ten times. Just depends on the level of crazy she's hit before bedtime.
So what do we do? Is there a certain number of times we should go in, and then after that, just let her yell? Do we not go in at all, not even the first time? Is she playing us for fools, or are we just helping her get over the hump of learning to go to sleep without her beloved ba-ba?
I mean, I'm fine with it if it's a temporary situation which will eventually (SOON) resolve itself, but if it's just some stalling ritual destined to become more and more elaborate each night, then I'd like to nip it in the bud. Suggestions? Ideas that worked for you? If nothing else, commiseration?


jen said...

See, I don't have this problem at night, but my husband does! I can have both kids in bed in less than 20 min and they stay there.. but it's like a 2 hour ordeal for him. Sadly, I think you just have to be snippy and maybe a little Yell-y and a lot of "not taking crap"-y and a whole bunch of "no. Go back to bed." I always told them this is the LAST TIME I'm doing, whatever. And then I left them to yell.. occasionally reminding them that I told them it was the last time. The husband gives in. They walk all over him. Sorry to sound so negative.

Though sometimes, I just want us all to sleep in the same bed.

Jess said...

Not being a parent, all I can say is that as a babysitter, I don't go back in unless it sounds like bodily harm has been incurred. It usually works. But it's much easier to get kids to behave as a babysitter than as a parent.

I can also say that every little kid I've babysat has gone through this phase, and it has passed quickly for all of them. If that helps.

Now, time for the actual parents who've had to deal with this to offer much more useful advice than mine.

Anonymous said...

They are smart little buggers and the requests and negotiations will go on longer and longer if you respond to them (learned from experience). Stick to the exact routine - no extra book(s), songs, stuffed animals added (plus a million more creative time wasters) etc...once your original routine is completed.

Like Jess, I also will not go in after the routine unless the screams suggest bodily harm. If a trip is needed in to the room - it is done in complete silence. No smiles, no eye contact - I just return him to bed and leave again.

It seems cruel - but they learn quickly. A couple of months ago we were caught in negotiations every night and he was getting over tired and waking up earlier in the morning - and CRANKY!

I try to tell him something we will be doing in the morning that he needs his rest for and he can look forward to when I tuck him in.

"Have a good sleep and tomorrow when you wake up we will do XYZ after breakfast."

Mommy Daisy said...

Have you ever seen SuperNanny? I like her "back to bed" routine. The idea is #1 put the kid to bed, read a story, get kisses etc.; #2 first time kid gets up, place them back in bed say goodnight; #3 second time kid gets up, place them back to bed and simply say "it's time to sleep now", no more; #4+ everytime kid gets up past this they get no words and no eye contact, just back to bed with them. They get the point.

We have not put Zachariah in a "big kid" bed yet, because I think he'd do this too. I want to wait until he's really ready for it (or until I'm forced to transition).

Good luck!

JMC said...

Yes, she is playing you, and very well. Like Jen, I can get my kids in bed and that's it, but it takes my husband much longer.

The two of my four kids to which this applies are a little older than your daughter, but our routine is to have a story, then put them in bed and let them read on their own for a little while. Then we show back up at their door and have "lights out." We usually don't hear from them after that.

Tessie said...

Man, what DO you do? I want to know too. Especially when they can (ARGG) OPEN THE DOOR?

desperate housewife said...

Yeah, exactly. We have a baby gate at her door now that she can open it, but she'll just stand there and bang on the gate, calling for us, and if we're in the kitchen or the hallway she can SEE us ignoring her, so it feels a little ridiculous, as well as coldhearted.

d e v a n said...

We just go in and put him back, but he really doesn't get out of bed at bedtime anymore. Now naps are a different story. I still lay down with him for those. *sigh*

Jill said...

My older daughter always went to bed no problem. MY four year old is a total candidate for Super Nanny.

Every night is a pain in the a--.

It's like boot camp and so far nothing has worked. SIGH...

jess said...

Are you still potty training? If so, it could be the baby gate that is causing her to ge tup and make noise. My sister said she had to ditch the baby gate when she started potty training, because Conrad would wake up and want to go potty, but not be able to because he was gated in - which caused him to stand at the gate and cry his head off. It was really confusing for him - delaying his potty training.

She also had problems with the coming downstairs 20 times per evening at bedtime. She started doing the Spuer-Nanny theory and just completely ignoring him - no talking, no eye contact - and just putting him back in bed and shutting the door.

clueless but hopeful mama said...

Zoe went through a brief period of bedtime resistance and wanted to be rocked after our final bedtime routine was over (this was after a bout of the stomach flu when the poor girl got all the rocking in the rocking chair that she wanted). Even though she's still in a crib, I had the hardest time just ignoring her. So we did a version of the super nanny thing- first time she got a hug in the crib and a song, second time a hug (and an explanation that that was the LAST TIME), and third, fourth, fifth etc. times, we just lay her back down with no words or eye contact or anything. Worked like a charm.

Swistle said...

Oh my god, I STILL do not know the answer to this one.