Sleepytime woes, revisited

After the failure of Bedtime Bootcamp, I had once again taken a “zen attitude” to my children’s nightowlish behaviour, reminding myself that “this too shall pass” and knowing that gracious acceptance of one’s lot was often easier than trying to change things. I was also hoping that the shorter days of autumn would bring their bedtimes to earlier hours, and at first this seemed to be the case. After a summer of regularly being up past 10:30 or 11 the kids seemed to be falling asleep before 10 on a fairly regular basis.

I recently wrote about how, on DH’s birthday, I finally granted his wish that DS be moved to his own bed. It worked out great for the first couple of nights. But then DS had a late nap and was up very late. I couldn’t get him to sleep, and when I tried to lay with DD in her bed he’d come climbing up the ladder of the bunk. The two of them fed off each other, wrestling and playing and laughing, and before we knew it things were back to the way they were before, them staying up late, DH going to sleep in the other room, and me stuck dealing with the kids way past the point where I was able to remain in control of my emotions (read: I become a crappy parent after 9 pm) until DS finally nursed to sleep while DD snuggled against my back. Problem was, with her bunk now set at the highest level I had no way to put her in her bed after she fell asleep. So I ended up sleeping with both kids in the big bed while DH slept in the other room. While I love love love sleeping with both my kids, I also missed DH and he won’t sleep with all of us, even in our king sized bed, because he says he doesn’t sleep well that way anymore (while very supportive of cosleeping and insistent that babies belong in their parent’s beds, an active toddler who kicks while nursing and a preschooler who likes to sleep sideways, combined with a job that required an early start and long house, put a damper on his willingness to share his sleeping space).

One of the hazards of having young kids is that, even if you and your partner are good at working out issues together, it does require that you have some time to talk about the issue without being interrupted, and being free to express your emotions without fear of stamping your child with some kind of “parental-fight” issue that will require years of therapy in the future. It took almost a week of strained relationship vibes before DH and I finally got the chance to talk about it. We came to an agreement, a two-week plan of action, and I’m happy to report that so far, it is working out pretty well.

The plan is that he has to help me by taking one child and keeping him/her occupied while I try to put the other child down, even if that means he has to stay up late. Tonight is night #3 of this and so far DD has been asleep in her bed by 9:30 every night. That is a huge difference between the 10:30 – 11 bedtimes she was on. I knew in my heart that she had been staying up past the point where she was ready for bed, but I had been unable to take her to bed without DS interrupting.

DS is also less of a problem now. The first night he was asleep by 7 pm, but to be fair he had skipped his nap that day (this was acheived by basically staying home all day, which is just not a reasonable long-term solution). Last night DH and I went to bed at 10 and DS wouldn’t nurse to sleep. He did, however, watch a Dora DVD without anybody else having to be there with him, and at some point he crawled back into bed, I nursed him, and then placed him in his own bed. It is 10:30 now and DD was asleep an hour ago. I tried to put DS down after that, but he wasn’t having it. So, he’s watching Dora again, very peacfully, while DH and I work on our computers. I’ll bring him to bed with me when I’m done, and I expect he’ll fall asleep this time. His nap was relatively early today, between noon and 1:30, yet still he is up late. This agrees with my observations last week that it didn’t seem to matter whether he napped early or late, he was still up late at night. I guess he needs to drop his naps, but he falls asleep so easily in the car or stroller that it is virtually impossible for him not to nap unless we don’t go out. I guess we’ll just have to deal with these late bedtimes until he drops the nap altogether, but in the meantime if it can be quiet like this in the evenings, and if DH and I can go to bed when we want and have DS just join us when he’s ready (advantages of small apartment living), then we’re happy.

Over the next two weeks we’ll try to tweak their bedtimes earlier bit by bit. The goal is to have them both asleep before 10, preferably before 9:30, and before 9 would be awesome. After two weeks, we’ll see where we are.

Oh, and for all my Attachment Parenting mamas out there, just wanted to let y’all know that the kids are welcome in our bed any time during the night. DD always prefers her own bed if given a choice, and DS doesn’t seem to be minding having his own space yet. If that changes we will also revisit the issue. I won’t compromise my cosleeping principles!

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