Note to my readers: I am hoping to share this post on some parenting sites but writing it out here for my own reference too. Feel free to skip on over if not interested!
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Guys, I am seriously in need of some help! We have finally gotten around to taking away cribs from our nearly 3 1/2 year old boys. I can't believe we held on this long, and I am now wishing we made the transition much sooner. We kept putting it off because we knew it would be a HUGE challenge... and... we were right!
There was something about the confining of bars and height that helped my boys regulate their desire not to sleep with the need to sleep. Now that the bars are gone, it's game over! They just don't have the self control/regulation/discipline to STAY in bed and go to sleep, even when they are over and beyond exhausted. Well, one of them is a bit better at it, but the other one is a lost cause. It's not just coming out of the room over and over again (though that is part of it), but it is in and out of bed, calling for us, bugging the brother, and even sometimes stripping off sheets and peeing in the bed (so far that's happened only once)
I am looking for all and any tips on how to overcome this next obstacle in parenting. As you will see from my notes below, things are not good. It is taking, on average, 1 1/4 hours for the boys to go to sleep at night. I think they have only succeeded in napping 2-3 times during the day. We are on day 11 and I can't say it has improved from day 1 at all!
(Day 1: The boys were SO excited. Running around in room, wrestling, cuddling, playing, jumping. Tucked in at 7:00, asleep by 8:30 (1 1/2 hours)
Day 2: Tucked in at 7:15, asleep by 8:30 (1 1/4 hours)
Day 3: Tucked in at 7:00, asleep by 8:30 (1 1/2 hours)
Day 4: No nap and they were very tired. Tried to put them down at 6:30, but it was more like 7:00 before they went down. Asleep by 8:00 after many trips in and out and threats.
Day 5: Tucked in at 7:30, asleep by 8:15 - First real successful day! (After 2 trips outside in the snow to tire them out and no nap)
Day 6: Tucked in at 6:45, asleep by 8:15 - Not a great day again
Day 7: Today they napped for an hour and a half. We let them stay up late and put them down late. It still took nearly an hour for them to get to sleep. Tucked in at 8:15, asleep by 9:15
Day 8: Nap for an hour and a half. Busy day with beach play in the morning and swimming after nap, then dinner out. Went down late to bed at 8:00, asleep by 8:45)
I must mention, that the scenario is slightly different depending on who is putting them to bed. With my husband, he can get them down quicker than me at times. With me, bedtime has turned into a joke! I feel like I have tried absolutely everything that I have read/heard/thought of, and nothing has really worked yet. I'll admit, probably part of it is to do with ME. I am having a hard time finding a method of disciplining the boys that works with and for me. This stage is, by far, the most defiant and they are not listening to me at all. Still, we have kept our expectations the same as far as bedtime goes and I feel they should be able to listen and obey.
So far, we have tried:
- Sticker charts or reward treats in the morning (they lose it after the 1st, 5th, 10th warning.. doesn't make a difference)
- Taking away toys when they get out of bed (they don't care a hoot)
- Using the "stern" voice/yelling/getting mad (kind of makes them more wound up than anything)
- Spanks (I know, not a regular thing we want to do... but with one of our boys this is sometimes the ONLY thing that will help him to calm down enough)
- Remaining calm/ignoring and quietly putting them back to bed (maybe this will work if I can remain consistent at it... at first it amped up the antics as they wanted me to "be happy" so they kept pulling silly pranks to try to get me to smile and laugh as they couldn't handle me not reacting. after 30 minutes of this, I lost my patience and got angry)
- Giving them more choice and empowerment through the day so they feel they are a part of the process and like this is not a time they need to assert their wills
- Extending the bedtime routine (starting earlier in the night) to include the multiple pee breaks, tuck-ins, drinks of water, etc.)
- Laying with them and patting their back/singing till they are calm (at a certain point, after they are exhausted of trying this is the ONLY thing that works, but still it takes on average an hour to get them to a point of "giving up" where this will work. Otherwise, as soon as we leave the antics start all over again, or they just continue with their antics while I am in the room and disregard all that I am saying
What are we missing? Is this a common problem? Does it have to do with having twins instead of singletons? Do we have to resign ourselves to going to bed with the kids and staying there until they are asleep even if that is an hour every night? Am I just way too soft of a mother and doing everything wrong???? Please, share your stories/advice/thoughts with me! I'm dying to hear!!!!