It’s getting to the point where if I had a dollar for every time I blogged about the trials and travails of bedtime, I’d have enough to buy a…well, OK, a pizza. But a really good pizza with lots of toppings. And maybe a Greek salad on the side.
I mean jeez, when does this end?
Elsa is going through one of her phases where she will not stay in bed. She gets up repeatedly for an hour, even two hours after we say good-night and turn out the lights. Sometimes she asks to use the bathroom, or for a drink of water. Sometimes she actually just gets up and turns the light on to read or play (and Clio, to be fair, is sometimes a co-conspirator in this). But eventually Clio will conk out, and it’s just a fidgety Elsa, claiming she can’t sleep. Or as she sometimes (very cutely) puts it, “I just can’t do it, mom!”
I’ve tried leading her wordlessly back to bed every time. I’ve tried telling her that if she comes out of her room / turns the light on again, she loses one of the toys or books she’s brought to bed with her. I’ve tried telling her she can sleep anywhere in the room she wants — on the floor, in the rocking chair, etc. I’ve tried rubbing her back and giving her visualization scenarios: “Imagine that you are riding on a boat with billowed sail, perched on Puff’s gigantic tail.” (Puff the Magic Dragon is HUGE in our house right now. Even bigger than Maria ever was). “Where are you and Puff going? Close your eyes and think about where you’re going…on the calm, calm sea. Rocking, gently. Gently. Back and forth. You’re getting sleepy. Very sleeeeepy…..”
All of these things have worked in the past at least once. But they are just not doing it lately. We used to have a childproof doorknob on the inside of the door to physically keep them in the room (a source of much controversy when I wrote about it here….) but we took it off a few months ago because it seemed like the girls had gotten better at staying in bed. I’m tempted to put it back on, but would rather not.
I’ve actually been reading 1-2-3 Magic lately. (More on that in a future post, to be sure….) But even that doesn’t really have a great solution for bedtime — especially not for very little kids. One suggestion is to park yourself in a chair in the doorway of their bedroom with your back to the child (or children) and don’t talk to them, no matter what. If they get out of bed and come to you, lead them back to bed silently.
I tried this last night and have concluded that the author must never have actually tried doing this. Otherwise, he would realize that 1.) The child will probably not stay in the bed when you lead them back there. 2.) Not talking to his child when they are whining that they can’t sleep / want to read / need another drink of water / etc., will lead to major melt-down behavior. And if he thinks it’s possible to quell a tantrum without any talking or any consequences and/or if he expects that I’m supposed to silently, physically restrain my very spirited child until she is done losing her shit — all while also not talking to her sister, who will probably be shouting at me, meanwhile, that she dropped her stuffed monkey or something — well, he’s got another thing coming. Specifically, a deluxe pizza and a Greek salad.
However, I do intend to try this approach again tonight if needed, because I got nothing else left. And to be fair, maybe it takes a few times to work.
Actually, said author, Thomas Phelan, is about to post something on his blog about bedtime strategies, and I’m sort of dying of suspense. Either it will be The Answer that I’m looking for, or it will be a sure-fire tactic that I will eagerly try and that will fail in an epic way. In either case, I will be sure to report back here.
And now, I’m going to go take a nap.
But before I go, a reminder: send me your photos of the weird things your kids do with toys, and I’ll post the wild and craziest ones here! jane (at) janeroper.com
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