Bedtime nightmare for mom!

Monica1987July 5, 2011

I have a 21 month old who I have the majority of the time. She stays with her dad on Wednesday nights and every other weekend. I am a substitute teacher and my schedule has varied so much in the past with daycare etc. My daughter has been through so many different "routines" that it has just become such a mess now and I just feel terrible. She has always napped with me or my mom during the day because I never passed up a chance to nap and I love the snuggle time. I am currently in a place with her where she knows that if the sun is out she can sleep with mom, and when it's dark out that is when she sleeps in her room in her crib. The problem is, I still am "rocking" her to sleep which is taking an hour. Because we travel SO much to see my family, and her being with my mom while I work and then being with her dad (who do things "their" way no matter what I request) this just seems to be the only way to get her to sleep successfully. I have established the cry-it-out method during the night because at one point (after numerous ear infections) I felt so bad that I was putting her in bed with me. That soon came to an end when I couldn't stand it anymore! She still is getting up about once a night, but goes back to sleep after screaming for 15 minutes.... Things are all over the place because of the amount that we travel, and the arrangements with her dad she has no idea but to be confused, and while I get frustrated I know that it is all my fault, and I have created this and it breaks my heart. Soon we are going to be transferring to a toddler bed so that I can work on it with her before going back to work. I am a big believer in the cry-it-out method, and continuing to place her in her bed, but I feel that it always fails when we travel someplace or she spends the weekend with her dad. After that it all falls apart and we never have a routine for more than a 2 week span. If anyone has any suggestions or related stories I would LOVE to hear them. It brings me to tears just actually writing it all out and looking at it as a whole. Feeling pure failure...

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I had problems with my daughter getting her to go to sleep at this age. (And she has had similar problems with her sons.) I finally had to face the reality that we could not go on like we were with me rocking her one or two hours, and her always waking up and crying for me as soon as I put her in her crib. Finally, I noticed that she was so tired that she was actually pulling herself up with great effort using the spindles of the crib--and with her eyes closed because she wanted to sleep! I had to face facts that this prolonged putting to bed was just not good for her at all.

So, I let her cry it out upstairs as I went downstairs, cleaned up the dishes, ran the dishwasher, turned on the tv and whatever else to drown out the noise of her crying. It took maybe 20 minutes that first night, then 5 the next and a minute maybe after that before she learned that it was bedtime and she needed to go to sleep. I was amazed at what a fool I had been not taking control of a situation that was not good for her out of my love for her and wanting to keep her happy. I was the Mommy, and reduced sleeping for a tired toddler was not good for her, and I needed to face that fact.

It is separation anxiety that leads to this crying when you put your toddler down. She wants YOU. But she needs to get her sleep. Be as consistent as you can be, don't give in. She will learn that with Mommy, this is how it is. It will perhaps take a little longer because of all the people who care for her in different ways, but she will understand that you have your own system and that it will be consistent.

It does tear at your heart, and you are letting all the guilt you feel about your circumstances play with your head. Stop it. Just do what you know you must do for her own well being. She will be happier for it in the long run.
And though you did not ask, I would delay the Big Girl Bed for another year or at least until you get through this and have a routine. A change in the bed, the freedom to hop out of it and come and go, will just be one more inconsistency right now. You both need to let this work for now, and changing things up will not help.

I hope this has helped you. Buck up, Mommy. You are the Mommy and you are trying to do the right thing. We all have that moment of hurting for our child but needing to do what is right for him or her. This is your first one of hopefully not too many moments like this.

Much love to both of you!

    Bookmark   July 5, 2011 at 6:30PM
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Have you tried to talk to her dad about a joint routine? If you approach him with the attitude of "our daughter is confused by our different routines so maybe we can agree on something that works for both of us." instead of expecting him to adopt YOUR routine that works for you (and her when she is with you). If it's simple, it should work in both homes.

I have guardianship of my DGS (28 months old). I've had him since he was 9 months old. He visits his mom on occasion (every couple of weeks) and my son is in the military so he doesn't see him at all. Our bedtime routine for him is a bath (can be quick or longer depending on our schedule), brush his teeth & then gets in bed. That's it. If dad reads a story or you cuddle to watch TV... if you both can agree on the few things that happen just before bed, it shouldn't upset the child to have mom's routine & dad's routine. I agree with sheilajoyce that kids will adapt to different surroundings... school, daycare, etc. They know whether mom will cuddle them or let them sleep in her bed by fussing but dad won't or vice versa.

If you can fight the urge to let her sleep with you.. in the long run, it's better for the child to have consistency. I loved cuddling my kids too but overall, it may create more stress for them because they won't know when it's okay & when it's not. AND when you get into another relationship... it may cause all sorts of other problems.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 9:43PM
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