It’s 7:00 and you are rousing the children up to go to bed. They are brushing their teeth in protest; taking their vitamins and getting water in protest, climbing into bed and attempting to wrestle in protest. Although an hour ago, your child was whining and crying over tiny bumps and minor disappointments due to exhaustion, now they claim “I’m not tired”.
Do you leave the room already frustrated when lights are turned out? Only to hear the common sound of little feet scooting down the hall to ask you for the 4th time, “will you tuck me in?” Does your child get up minutes later asking for “just one more kiss?” Do you find yourself biting your tongue because ‘if they get up ONE more time, they are REALLY going to regret it?!!!!’ But then of course, that one more time comes, and you once again go into the room, tuck them in, kiss them goodnight, and in a firm voice inform them “STAY in bed or you will: get a spanking/be in trouble/lose a privilege, etc, etc……… The list of threats can be exhaustive at times.
Do you ever sit and think ‘it would be nice to have a little quiet time before going to bed, if the kids would just GO TO SLEEP’. I’m here to encourage you and myself because this is my house EVERY NIGHT. This is an issue with consistency and limit setting. I too feel guilt when I get frustrated and my 4 year old whispers in a sweet voice “mommy, I need another kiss?” But when the morning after comes, I know this is a behavior not a cry for more love. She gets kisses all day long. This is a problem with me and my husband. We have made it her problem just as we made it her brother’s problem when he was younger. We struggle with what Dr. Canapari calls sleep association disorder and limit setting disorder.
Setting limits around bedtime and enforcing them doesn’t make you a mean parent who doesn’t want to love on your children. It makes you a strong parent who knows the importance of your child and yourself getting the rest you need. Children need 11-12 hours of sleep per night depending on age. And I presonaly need at least 7 hours of sleep to be able to get up the next morning and function. Intermittent sleep through the night makes us tired and drowsy the next day. This is the case for children too, so if you have a child that falls asleep pretty easily but can’t stay asleep, this post is for you too. There are times when my daughter falls asleep quickly and without the battle (although this is not common lately). However, she wakes up several times per night calling out or crying for me. I then wake up, and usually go get her and put her to bed with me. Because of my need for sleep, I have created another problem for her. She does not self soothe when she wakes. She requests to lay with me, rub my arm, or rock in order to fall back asleep. There are some nights when I am awakened because she is reaching for me trying to find my arm an hour later.
As babies, I didn’t mind the co-sleeping arrangement all that much as long as they would sleep and I got sleep. However, with a preschooler and grade-school child, sleeping with my kids is less than fun and sweet. I often wake up to a foot in my face or being kicked in the back. The other night I was dreaming, and my daughter threw her arm across my face, and I jumped up because I dreamed someone slapped me. To help encourage you, I am going to share how I am enforcing bedtime limits with my child. I will be referencing Dr. Canari’s sleep training tools. As well as “Sleep Sense” by Megan Faure & Ann Richardson. This is a book my children’s pediatrician recommended when my daughter was a baby, and I have returned to it several times during difficult sleep issues. I would recommend it as a resource to keep on your bookshelf if you struggle to get enough sleep and are not a fan of the “cry it out” method.
As we set out on this journey, I would love to know what some of your bedtime struggles are.