Tired of 3 hour bedtime ritual!!

noexcusesthistimeMarch 8, 2002

I am at my wits end. I have a four+ year old girl and an almost three yr old boy. We start bedtime ritual around 8:15-8:45. They are both up and down, out of bed, a million excuses. I catch my boy in his toybox at 11:00PM! I have tried yelling, cuddling, sleeping with them (a mistake) everything - I am just exhausted by 11:00 and have not gotten anything else done because I am running between rooms and chasing kids back in to bed. The process drains me every night. I thought of starting earlier, closer to 7:30 but I feel like that takes away from "happy" family time, I dont want them to eat dinner and get ready right for bed. On bath nights, its even worse. Why does it take my kids so long to actually fall asleep. I wake them up around 8:00am because I know they need their sleep. I guess I should get them up earlier. Any advice or success stories??? Much needed and appreciated!

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Not sure what will work for you, but if it helps:
The 4-year-old is right on target to start creatively procrastinating bedtime.

Two things worked for us.
1) Ironclad bedtime rules.
2) Mom and Dad TOTALLY in sync on enforcing the rules.

It will be rough the first night or two of enforcement. Either mom or dad will be tempted to cave. But get thru the first night or two and it will work.

My friends with 4-ish kids and myself just went thru this phase. My DD would try everything. I'm hungry, I'm thirsty. DH fell for it the first time (got her up at 10 pm and fed her waffles). The first cave teaches them that it will EVENTUALLY work.

We had rules, with slight latitude to allow for times when they are not bluffing. Example:
Potty is ok to get up for.
If you are thirsty, you may have a small dixie cup of water out of the bathroom, but after dinner, THE KITCHEN IS CLOSED!
Otherwise, stay in bed. Mom or Dad will do storytime, prayer, tucking in, etc. (any routine you have will do). Then it's off to bed. Even if you don't go to sleep right away, you must remain in bed and have quiet time. If they call you, listen and make sure the roof isn't caving in or something. Otherwise, bedtime is bedtime.

Any breaking of the rules results in a favorite TV show or toy being 'grounded' from use.

The trick is - they are slick and smart (I knew this because I was the QUEEN of bedtime procrastination as a child). So any caving by either parent, and you go back to the beginning.

It was cool! After 2 days of attempts to procrastinate, she quit trying. She got it! But DH almost caved one time. Then when he realized she was being slick, he kind of got mad! And then he was in sync with me on it. And boom! Two days later, peaceful bedtime.

About a week later, she looked at me at bedtime, and said, "Mom, I'm thirsty. I want orange juice!" All I had to do was look at her, and she said, "But that's ok, I'll have it in the morning."

Good luck! And sweet dreams! (eventually)

    Bookmark   March 8, 2002 at 1:59PM
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Your best bet is trying to get them to bed right after dinner. There is nothing wrong with that. A nice warm bath and a full tummy will help a lot. Maybe a little extra play time in the tub. It works for adults, and it works for children too.

Give them the chance to digest that food and they have a new store of energy. Do your happy time at dinnertime or before. After dinner and before bedtime gets them all keyed up.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2002 at 6:33PM
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Could the problem be that they just aren't tired? You said you wake them up at 8am, do you go to work or are you at home with them? could you allow them to sleep and see maybe if they wake up on they're own then or sleep longer? With us a 7:30, 8, 8:30 or even 9 bedtime wont' work. DS is a night owl and his bed time is closer to 11pm. He sleeps in until 9am and takes a 2 hour nap in the afternoon.

Sometimes I think the problem is just that people think that all kids are the same and need to go to bed early but that's not true. Some kids are night owls and others morning persons. It does of course depend on your schedule and routine. With me, I'm a SAHM and it's no big deal to stay up and sleep in later. Also, not all children need the same amount of sleep at night as others and it's the same with adults.

I think that it sounds more like your children aren't tired and aren't ready for bed than that you need to start putting them to bed even earlier. Try pushing the bed time later a little bit and see what happens then. Its really going to be a guessing game until you figure out what works for them.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2002 at 10:51AM
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I'm not sure what you should do, but I wouldn't want to go to bed right after dinner, on a full stomach. That would make me even more uncomfortable and harder to get to sleep. Maybe try that lavendar bath stuff or something although that might just work on infants. I like TREKaren's approach. Be firm! Don't cave! You can do it! We're all rooting for you! :)

    Bookmark   March 12, 2002 at 9:35AM
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My DD starts between 7:30pm and 8:pm getting our 5 yr. old grandson and 2 yr. old granddaughter ready for bed. They are in the bed no later than 8:30pm. They will try everything to stay up late but my DD will let them up to go to the potty once and then if you get back up afterwards unless it is an emergency you will be led back to your bed and the door pulled to.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2002 at 12:11PM
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My DS is 3 and has just begun this too. I can only tell you that I give him a bath, cuddle time with stories, a drink of water (very small) and then it is off to bed. I know he doesn't fall asleep right away, but he knows that it is quiet time. (I sometimes hear him telling his stuffed animals to "ssh!") My DH and I decided very early on, that we were NOT going to cave on bedtime routines, we get so little time together alone! Be strong. Don't start habits that you will beat yourself up about later.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2002 at 6:18PM
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