Saturday, May 30, 2009

My Alter Ego

Addy used to be such a great sleeper. She took two naps a day until she was two. She'd always comply with bedtime and then drop right off, to sleep- nary a peep from her room once the door was closed, even if people came over or I was vacuuming two rooms away. Sometimes she'd announce on her own when she was sleepy before it was even bedtime, grab her blankie and trot off to bed, leaving us shaking our heads and thinking how LUCKY we were. (It almost made up for the fact that three nights out of four, she was eating a pb and j for dinner after an hour of futile attempts to shovel vegetables and proteins down her throat.)

But lo, it is no longer so. She is not napping reliably whatsoever, not even with the bribes of the portable DVD player in her room to let Dora soothe her off to sleep. She won't even accept the idea of a quiet time, and if I lock the child gate on her door to force her to play in there, she just stands and yells for me until a, I am yelling right back or b, her brother has been woken from HIS nap, which... is the end of the world, essentially.

But the real horror isn't even naptime. I mean, she is close to four years old. I am resignedly aware of the fact that she just might not generally NEED a rest time anymore, even if her mama still does. No, the real horror is bedtime, when she is popping up out of bed about every ten minutes from eight thirty to ten thirty every night with various urgent problems requiring our help. The requests are creative, I gotta give her that. It's never the same one twice: she needs the potty, a drink of water, a drink of milk, a snack, a hug, an episode of Blue's Clues, another story, a Hello Kitty band-aid, to kiss Fonzie good night, to call Aunt Rachel, to go the playground, to go to WORK, to snuggle with Mama, etc.

I know it's a normal kid thing, inventing excuses to stay up if you don't feel tired the second your head hits the pillow. But by about the third time I've walked her back to bed, I can feel myself starting to Lose. It. I just want to go get something done without kid-interruptions for the first time all day, but no! The interruptions just keep coming, except that they're MORE frustrating because they involve retucking her into bed a kazillion times. I've said that I'm not doing the whole tucking and kissing routine after the second time, but I keep slipping up and doing it anyways because otherwise she stands there and wails with increasing urgency, "But MOM! But MOM! I need KISS! I need TUCK!" and not only does the guilt slay me, but also, if she wakes Eli up: end of the world, as aforementioned.

Tonight was really bad. I think she got up about ten times before I seriously lost it. I heard my voice mid-rant and it was really not pleasant. Thankfully, she didn't seem wounded by my fury or the low, snarly quality of my tone; alarmed perhaps, because she did at least STAY in bed that time (so far,) but not teary eyed and shocked by the sudden appearance of Mean Mommy.

I was wounded, though. I hate turning into that Mom, the one hissing at her kids in a voice just as mean and threatening as she can make it, trying to control their behavior by scaring or shocking them or hurting their feelings. I mean, a little shock value is ok. But I never want my kids to feel afraid of ME. Afraid of the consequences of bad behavior, sure (Losing Blue's Clue's for the day! Oh the horrors!) but not afraid of me, personally.

Also, it's a tricky situation to navigate, the bedtime misdemeanors, when your usual discipline is a time out. In this case, a time out would still be getting to stay UP longer, so I think it's slightly inappropriate. Is it just all about consistency, just sending her back, or taking her back, to bed over and over and OVER until eventually she gives up? Or is there some trick I'm missing?

Also, don't you just hate it when the last thing you've said (growled) to your kid for the night is, "Get BACK in bed and STAY there! I do not want to see you up again, young lady!" What a crappy feeling.

15 comments:

mL said...

Consistancy is the hardest, but most important...hang on! ummmm, another option...let Daddy be the bad guy...go get'um Jim ;~)

Giselle said...

I am not very friendly post bedtime either. Maybe if she gives up the nap, she'll be more ready to go to bed at night? All worn out and stuff? Or maybe the bedtime routine needs to be tweeked a bit. Andrew's whole night-time routine changed completely right around 4...I don't remember why, but we were suddenly reading a quiet chapter book in bed together instead of singing and cuddling and the tickling/teasing that always came from that.

Oh, and my mother just Laaaaaughs when I complain about this topic. I was like Addy...always a new excuse. The most famous? "Mommy, I can't think of a dream." She STILL makes fun of me about this...and it was over 25 years ago ;)

Swistle said...

Ug, I know, I know! And I have no advice! I'm doing the same as what you're doing.

Shelly Overlook said...

The thought of this happening in our future gives me the willies. I hope it passes quickly for you!

d e v a n said...

urgh. I hate it when they fight bedtime because by then I've usually had my fill and my patience is long gone.
Dane is 4 and I often tell him that he can only get up to go potty. If he does get up for anything else, he loses something after the next time he gets up. Often a favorite toy or something we planned on doing the next day.
Also, all the kids have noise machines because I hate it more than anything when they wake each other up!

Bird said...

I like d e v a n's advice! Sounds consistent and that way you don't have to lose your temper as much?!?

Hillary said...

I'm going to tell you the same thing my husband and mother told me last night when I had to bust out the MEAN Momma -- You are not a bad mother. A bad mother would let her kids do whatever they wanted.

Mommy Daisy said...

We've been through the same thing. I think it's a phase, and it comes nad goes. But it's so frustrating. We have our biggest struggles at naptime. When it started, I briefly considered he didn't need a nap, but once he fell asleep it was for at least 2 hours! Don't tell me he doesn't still need naps. My mom said my sister was that way, but she had no advice. Just that it passes. I'm the same way, but I lose my cool way too quickly during naptimes. By afternoon I need some me time. I don't have any advice, but I hear you!

LoriD said...

I am the last person to be giving sleep advice. I am firmly in the camp of "whatever gets them to sleep" which includes letting the kids sleep together, letting them sleep in my bed, letting them fall asleep on the couch. I'm just not up to battling at bedtime. I was this way with all 3 kids and now my oldest two (8 and 6 years old) both go to be easily at 8:00 and stay in bed until 7:00-ish.

Jess said...

I don't know. I mean, you don't want your kids to be scared of you but sometimes you have to lay down the law, and when they're getting in and out of bed just to test your limits, it's good to show that you HAVE limits, and they've reached them. You know?

CAQuincy said...

I have that alter-ego about once a month: definitely tied in to my cycle. It's not pretty to turn into a person who so resembles my Crazy Mother once a month. Been working on it....

As for the night visits. BAH! Yes, consistency. It'll get there!

One thing we did when the kids got a little older--um and could reach the faucet with the stool (And Addy is starting to get to that age), is put cups in the bathroom for the drink requests. Now when we get the "I've got to go potty" or the "I'm thirsty" request, they can go do it THEMSELVES. It takes a bit of adjustment to say, "So...do it, then!" but they got used to it, and now at least those two night-time requests are now no longer parentally-necessary to answer!

Everything else...ugh.

(It DOES get better, though--I promise!)

Saly said...

Lucy was the same way....LOVED her sleep. Now, she thinks of things to tell me "Mommy-- you know what I love about you??" What? "I-nagra Falls." (what????)

Truth be told- especially when Hub is not home, the big kids give me a really hard time about going to bed, and it is then that I am least proud of myself as a mom. I get nasty too, because I am grasping at teeny tiny straws of possible alone time or the chance to sleep in my own bed before the baby gets up and demands that we sleep on the couch.

It happens to the best of us, I think. I'm sure that when they are teenagers, they'll want to sleep all the time!

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Kelsey said...

We were having a similar problem with Harper and finally, after snarling and threatening didn't work, we just started taking stuff out of her room. One night she went to sleep on only her fitted sheet, having "lost" her stuffed dog, lovey, covers, and pillow. It sounds kind of awful until you realize we only had to do that one or two times. Now we don't usually have a problem unless we have company over - she just cannot stand the thought that something is happening without her!

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