Thursday, August 9, 2012

bedtime nightmares.

so two weeks ago, i made a really regretful decision.

i decided to put caleb and leah in the same room, in bunk beds.  

june has been sleeping in our walk-in closet for 12 months now, and i was tired of not being able to have a life after she was in bed.  our treadmill is in our bedroom, which means that i couldn't exercise after 8:00 p.m.  i'm not a morning person, and love to exercise after the kids go to bed.  it also meant sneaking into a dark room to get ready for bed, brushing our teeth in the dark, taking out my contacts by flashlight, and ben either waking up the baby or laying his clothes out the night before in order to get dressed in the morning.  not awful, but it was time to be done.  

when it came time for thinking of having two of our kids share a room, we knew leah was the wild card, and is not the easiest when it comes to winding down and putting herself to sleep.  in her own room, it wasn't a big deal, because the only person she bothered was herself {and occasionally me}.  so that was the reason that we first decided to have caleb and june share a room.  but then we realized the error in our thinking, because when caleb had friends over or needed some quiet time, he had nowhere to go if june was sleeping.

we were given hand-me-down bunk beds that we'd had sitting in our garage, and after a lot of talking between ben and i....we decided to just go for it.  how bad could it be, right??

we switched the rooms around, got caleb and leah all excited to be room buddies, decorated their room so it worked for both of them, and crossed our fingers.



the first couple of nights, there was so much fighting between the two kids, and going back and forth and in and out of their rooms.  settling disputes....cracking down on rules....trying positive motivation.....then finally resulting in all-out threats......which eventually led to me having to follow through on those threats {because i do my best not to say things i can't back up}....and that turned into weeping, wailing and GNASHING of teeth.  

{these pictures were taken during an actual leah meltdown in the car...
while she carried on, the rest of us practiced our grumpy faces.}

they didn't go to sleep until 11 p.m. and that is not like my kids.  they were in awful moods the next day.  the next night was 10:30.  

caleb has been easy when it comes to bed time.  it's a rare night when he can't sleep, he just settles on down and that's it.  leah is a night owl and not only does she want to be creating games and imaginary friends out of whatever she can find, she also wants to bug her brother.  he's been highly motivated to ignore her, and he does his best.  but it gets to a place of ridiculous-ness and i can't blame him; he snaps.  and gets so frustrated, and begs to sleep in our room.  where we eventually let him go, and then move him after they're both asleep and we're ready to go to bed.   

on top of the late bedtime, leah has been waking up some time between 2-6 a.m. and crying out, trying to wake up caleb because she says she's scared.  i've ended up in her bed with her, trying to calm her seriously loud cries before she wakes him up again.  

we're now a couple of weekw in, and i am so exhausted.  mentally, physically, emotionally.  bedtime drags on for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours and i'm beginning to dread it.  no matter how nice i start out, no matter how strict i become, leah is a hot mess.  

as i'm typing this, ben {who just walked in the door at 10 p.m.} is right now talking to a screaming leah about how she lost her privilege for the morning because she was out of her bed again.  

i've had friends recommend melatonin, but i've read a lot of studies about it and there has been a lot of negative side effects {many parents said that it actually gave their kids night terrors}.  plus i really don't like to medicate my kids if i don't think it's necessary.  i've used essential oils, long baths, soothing music, books on CD, giving the room extra light, giving the room less light.  
i've also heard to just let them play/fight/workitout on their own, as long as they stay in their rooms.  which i would do if both of them were participating in this, instead of it being one kid driving the other one mad.  and if caleb wasn't a kid who needs--has always needed--more sleep than what "normal" kids need.  he started school this week and i just don't think it's fair to him, or what is best for him to have to suffer while leah continues for hours on end.  

sorry to complain....i can't stand complain-y posts....but i'm fresh out of ideas and need some help.  do we just switch them back?  go back to june in the closet?  hold on for as long as we can?  hope this ends?  

i adore this little girl, seriously adore her.  she is normally so much fun to be around.  sometimes the beauty of her face combined with her amazing little spirit and personality take my breath away.  i mean, honestly.  how did i get so lucky to be her mom?

and i'm so sad every time we have such a negative experience at bedtime, it used to be my favorite time with my kids.  hearing her cry and carry on and not listen is both heartbreaking and frustrating.  

so, help please.  ready!  set!  go!


Rachel Chick said...

Ugh. You know, even with being a master-parent (uh-huh), I don't know that I have anything to offer. . . Do you think she could handle sharing with Junie-B? I also think the drugging is a bad idea. What ideas does SHE have to solve the problem? Maybe if she felt some ownership in "helping" with June, she'd do okay? Ugh. I don't know. I wouldn't put June back in the closet . . . maybe June could share with Caleb at night, but nap in Leah's room during the day? That's it! There's your solution. Problem solved. Thanks for asking. Now go and do. :) Jokes. Keep me updated ---- and don't throw her in the garbage can. She'll grow out of it. I promise. :)

Meggan Hayes said...

I agree with Rachel, if Caleb goes to sleep easily then put June in the room with him and give Leah her own room. Then, she can stay up as long as she wants and no one will be bothered. One of my sisters had a problem with her son always coming out of his room at night so they put a baby gate up so he couldn't get out. That way, he could do whatever he wanted as long as he didn't leave. Some nights he would play a lot and fall asleep on the floor but he never bothered them. Good Luck! (and I'm sure you've already done this, but pray about it, a lot.)

Valerie said...

If it comes down to it, I would say that it's best to have yourself 'put out' rather than Caleb. If that means putting June back in your closet, so be it.

Nights can be rough & I completely feel your pain. One of my kids has anxiety, especially at night, and it can be sooo challenging.

Good luck & definitely keep us posted!

MeggyT said...

I was going to post what Rachel did. Let C and J share a room for a bit until L can settle down. (or at least suggest it to C and see if he's OK with sharing with a baby)

Charlotte said...

Ugh. That's rough. I think Rachel's idea to see what ideas Leah has for fixing the problem is a good place to start. See what she needs.

Do you have a pack 'n play? If you do then I'd totally go for putting Caleb & June together at night, but having her nap elsewhere.

Or maybe Leah just needs a couple more months before she'll be ready to share with Caleb. You can handle June in your closet for a couple more months, right?

One last option that we've used occasionally is to put Alivia to bed in our bed, and then we carry her back to her own bed after she's asleep. That way Sam doesn't become involved in the bedtime battle.

Good luck!

Jill said...

Pretty sure our children are identical twins, separated at birth. My oldest is easy going at bedtime, quick to fall asleep, requires more sleep than other kids and never wakes up at night. While my (almost) 3-year-old has fought it from the start. She cries, comes out multiple times before falling asleep, etc. etc. I feel your pain. And in a two-bedroom house, we have no other option but sharing rooms. I've tried several things, all of which worked for a period of time until we found ourselves back at square one. So, because our bedtime battles are so similar, I'll throw in my two cents:
1. Told her that big girls stay in their beds and go to sleep nicely but babies sleep in cribs. For the longest time I had the pack-n-play set up in her room and every time she got out of her big bed, I put her in the pack-n-play for a couple minutes.
2. Tried the super nanny approach where the first couple of times I said, "Good night darling, I love you" (sans the British accent) then every time after that, physically put her back in bed without speaking to her. That's when I discovered how persistent and determined she really is.
3. Threatened to remove Jenna from the room because she really loves having her sister in there with her. So a few times, I've taken Jenna out and said, "I'm sorry but until you can calm down and be sweet, Jenna gets to sleep in our bed because you're disturbing her."
4. Told her, firmly, because at this point we were 2.7 years into it, "Callie. You are not in charge of bedtime. We are going to do bath, read books, say prayers, I'll stay with you two minutes and then kids' time is over and it's time to let mommy go. If you come out of your room, I'll be locking the door." This last approach has worked for some time now and all it takes is a threat of locking the door and she'll stay put.
So, that was long and I apologize. I hope one of those might be helpful or at least a variation of. I totally feel for you. It doesn't matter how good the day was, if bedtime is difficult, everything goes out the window and I'm just grumpy for the rest of the evening. Enter: ice cream and Love in the Wild.
Good luck!

S and RA Beazer said...

I love so many of the ideas, especially Jill and Rachels. all I can say is good luck, because we only had one and let him determine bedtime routine until he was about 7 and really didn't care anymore. We weren't the best of parents, but he turned out rather nicely.