Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I am Losing the Bedtime Battle - Bigtime

Last Friday, we embarked on Bedtime Bootcamp with our 4 1/2 year old.  The goal was to train her to go to bed when asked, fall asleep, and stay in her room all night long.  Friday night was fairly successful.  I sat at the far end of the room, she didn't fight me (or sleeping) and by 9:00 she was out like a light, and I was in the living room enjoying time with Hubs.

Saturday night was similar, only I had the computer in her room with me, so I spent much longer sitting there, even though she was asleep long before I left her room.  Still she didn't fight bedtime.  I thought my tactics were working.

And then Sunday night she proved that she has far more control than a 4 year old body should possess.  At 8:30 her lights were off and I was in my place sitting silently. She's thrashing about her bed, singing, and playing with pillows and bedsheets.  I'm doing my best to ignore her, but I can feel my blood pressure rising.  She quiets down, I think she's falling asleep, I begin to relax.  Then, out of a nowhere a little voice says "Momma, I have a hy-pop-e-sis" (hypothesis).  I ignore her.  She is trying to engage me in conversation and I am not going to fall victim to her scheme.  She repeats herself, over and over, my blood pressure is rising again.  Finally, I say "Camdyn, what is your hypothesis?"  She tells me, and honestly, I can't remember what she said because I was trying to figure out what the next step was going to be. 

I tell her, "Camdyn it is now 8:50 and you are still awake, if you are still awake at 9:00 then you will lose your TV privilege for tomorrow."  Her response, "okay Momma."  Guess, who's still awake at 9:00?  At this point I have been in her bedroom for an hour and half (including working on her letters, and reading bed time stories).  I'm frustrated.  I want to be on the couch watching mindless TV shows like Hubs has been doing since 7:15.  Selfish.  Yes I am. 

I abandon my approach.  I take residence in my favorite chair and open my email.

Not 10 minutes later Cam comes out of her room because she has to potty, which she does, and then returns to her room.  But, now her light is on, and her markers are out, and she is coloring.  Seriously, child?  So, I remove the markers, turn the light off, and warn her not to come out of her room again.  I may or may not have said, "If you come out of your room one more time you will wish you were never born."  Not my proudest moment ::hangs head in shame::

Now, it's 10:00, I'm ready for bed, I walk through the kitchen on my way to check on Cam before I head to bed.  I run into her in the kitchen, she's getting a bowl out of the drawer.  She wants peanuts.  IT'S BEDTIME!  It's my bedtime!  WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?  So, I walk her back to bed, she's crying over peanuts, but I'm not letting her have any.  I explain for the millionth time that it's bedtime, I apologize for using my strong voice, but I'm tired and frustrated, and I don't understand why she doesn't listen.  Now, she starts to cry.  We cry together.  I explain my expectations.  We cry together.  I tell her I love her.  I rub her tummy.  I leave.  She sleeps in her own room all night long.

This is a typical night.  {except for my rude comment, that's atypical} 

I'm so tired of getting frustrated.  I'm a pretty chill person by nature (this is the apache indian in me), it takes a lot for me to get to my boiling point, and yet I'm finding myself there, nightly, with these antics.  I hate this drama, this up and down roller coaster, having to raise my voice, and then feeling so guilty about it that I'm moved to tears.  I can't seem to  find balance between enforcing rules, and fighting a battle just to fight it.  Rewards (hugs, kisses, praise, toys) and consequences (losing TV, swimming, and treat privileges) aren't working.  I need something more powerful than that, like a sedation dart that they use on lions & elephants at the zoo.  We've used sticker charts before, that works for a few weeks, and then we are back to square one. 

I welcome your advice, books to read, the power of prayer for patience and understanding on my part. 

I need a bedtime intervention, and a bottle of wine.


Amanda said...

Sorry you are having a rough go. I have no advice, but in 2 years I will probably be coming back and asking you what worked!

Ropella4 said...

I have heard that turning the door knob around so you can lock it from the outside works, but you still have to be strong and not give in to her wanting to play and eat etc.... It might take a few days- but consistency is key- be firm:)

LeeAnn said...

I am so sorry you're going through this. I wish I had some advice for you, but I don't. I can tell you that, without a doubt, I would be acting and feeling the same way as you are if I were in this situation. (And who knows, I may be some day.) I agree with the above comment that consistency is key, but that is so much easier said than done. Good luck. Keep us posted.

TV's Take said...

Thanks for stopping by TVs Take today! Your empathy is appreciated. I wish I had some advice, but I don't. I know so many parents go through this and eventually find their way. Isn't Super Nanny a pro at bedtime? Perhaps try her technique....Best of luck.

Heather said...

Aww! Unfortunately, I don't have any advice for you. (I can get you a bottle of wine, however!) My guess is that you just have to be persistent and she'll eventually learn. (I'm sure it won't be without hard work though...)

Thanks for your advice about the sippy cups. I'll probably stop bottles cold turkey soon... I'm only prolonging the ordeal by giving her bottles sometimes and sippy cups the other. I'll keep you posted.

Good luck with bedtime!

Anonymous said...

I'm with TV! Supernanny NEVER talks to the kids when they are in the bedtime routine. She sits outside of the door, not inside of the room and when they come out, she physically picks them up and puts them back in their bed or holds their hand and firmly walks them back to bed- without saying anything or giving affection. She sometimes has to sit for an hour or more and repeatedly put the child back in their bed. Eventually the child will exhaust from the process and you will be WHIPPED, but it supposedly works and gets better night after night. I am not a parent and have no clue but maybe try sitting outside of her door- then you can drink wine and she won't see you until she tries to escape! Good luck Carol!

Liz said...

Hang in there!!! Once it works - it will be SO WORTH IT!!

I agree - try the Suppernany tactics. Maybe sitting out of the room would be better, so she can't see you. I like the idea of putting her in the bed each time too. Exhausting for both of you, but I bet it works!

You can do it Carol.. you are a great mama! :)

Colleen (Shibley Smiles) said...

You would think with three kids I would have some advice. Truth be told I haven't tackled this and it is not the best thing either. My daughter ends up going to bed about the same time we do and she may be in our bed, in her brother's room, or her grandmothers. I know I need to get her in the habit of laying down when the boys do and staying in bed so hubby and I can have some non kid time but I just like you get so frustrated and just don't want to deal. However we have big plans for this school year each of them have goals and this is going to be hers so I will let you know how it goes. I agree with the Super Nanny approach and if it makes you feel any better I tend to raise my voice too much as well.

I haven't read through all her articles but Heligirl at http://www.heligirl.com/ has some great parenting tips. Not sure if she has anything of this nature.

Hope it gets all worked out soon.

Kelley said...

The part where you said she asked for peanuts made me laugh out loud! I'm sorry, because I know this was a stressful time...and was not supposed to be funny. You read my post about "why I wake up looking like a wrestled a hyena", so...I'm probably not the one to ask for advice! I do remember LOVING the book "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" by Marc Weissbluth when they were younger. I should probably get it out again...

Eastlyn and co. said...

I feel your pain, Carol. Growing up my mom told us she turned into a wicked witch after 8 p.m. so we'd better be in bed. We never saw her flying around the house on a broom in a black hat, so I guess we must've taken that mess pretty seriously. (Not suggesting that for Cam). Now, as a parent myself I feel like I do turn into a witch when my kids aren't in bed by MY bedtime. Don't really have any suggestions for you, but will say a prayer that Cam gets the idea soon! -EW

Heligirl said...

As I read your post I was thinking about what I would advise. Then I saw the comments. Woo, hoo. I was actually recommended here!! I've got some great ideas for you my friend. Tell you what, I'm going to get to work right now on an article and post it on Heligirl this week for you. Stand by. In the meantime, if you're going to sit by her door, do it on the outside now. :)