Feb 7, 2010

help me mummies

Over here, at the little house in the middle of the forest,  all is not so well. You see the parents of the little creature referred to as Busy are having strong feelings around the routine they have found themselves in. I knew this was  bound to happen sooner or later. She was a great sleeper from day one and she was breastfed to sleep for the first 2 years- which I don't regret at all and would do again- and then we just started laying with her. She still has a day sleep- god knows come 1p.m ish - we all need a moment to oursleves- and it is my most precious of sewing time. But when she sleeps during the day it can take up to an hour to get her to sleep at night- at about 815-830 we do the usual , quiet time before bed, then stories in bed and lay with her until she falls asleep- this last bit has become very wearing.

She sleeps on a double bed on the floor so its quite comfy- therein lies the problem, (Chef and I take it in turns to do the bed routine) and whoever does it falls asleep and then the spouse comes and wakes them and then the woken spouse is all cranky ( I am far more of a cranky pants than Chef in this situation) and they end up going straight to bed and then we don't spend any time alone together talking as adults- or gigleing in bed like we use to...and I miss it.... I will not do anything that invloves her screaming herself to sleep or anyone feeling upset or horrible or  feeling awful about it - but surely there is a gentle way of getting her to go to sleep by herself without us having to lay there. I am happy to stay with her for a little while but an hour? Or am I being unreasonable???

Points to consider: ( jeez- do I sound like I am asking you to write an essay?)
  • She will go to sleep at daycare in about 5 minutes by herself and has been doing so for 2 YEARS! It takes an hour regardless of how huge the day is - no matter how worn out she is it still takes ages.
  • if we drop the day sleep we have an afternoon of hell and she usually still won't go to sleep unitl 830 anyway- but we are actually trying it this afternoon- to see how we go...
  • and of course she crashes in the car easily to but wakes up as soon as you try to move her...
Help!!!??? what do you do? how did you teach your little one to go to sleep in a safe and gentle way ?


  1. I know you said you didn't want to do the crying herself to sleep thing, but honestly it was the only thing that worked for us. We were doing the exact same thing lying there with her and it started to really affect our relationship. It took 2 nights (seriously!!) and she was going to sleep on her own. Gut wrenching at first, but she certainly isn't adversely affected by it now. There are a few little rules to it as well, so they still feel loved and secure, google the control crying and see what you think. No offense taken if you decide that it's really not for you :) Good luck, maybe other people have better advice than mine that you could try first.

  2. We didn't do control crying and we have a baby that goes to bed quietly and happily with no tears. It took some getting there! I'd suggest sitting with her, rather than lying and holding her hand. No talking just being with her and then leaving. Stay till she goes to sleep the first night, a little less the next night and so on. Maybe have a story in bed first, if you are having it somewhere else?

    We put Rubes down (same routine every night - dinner, bath, cuddles and bottle then bed), and she has 3 dummies in bed with her because she likes to have one in each hand and her mouth - it's very comforting for her (and it's the only time in the day that she has dummies), her bear Remington is there and she is content. If she is sometimes unsettled (too late an afternoon nap, teeth whatever), she is allowed to come downstairs and have QUIET time with us (no playing) and in 10 minutes we go put her back up in the same way "goodnight darling, we love you and hope you have a great nights sleep and we will see you tomorrow", so she knows what is happening. We usually get her in bed around 6:30 7 and we NEED those evenings too!!!! Rubes is only 16 months so is a lot younger, but it's the same, just change the routine, but gently -less time at night and she will get used to it.

    I hope with all the advice you get. something is going to help and work!!!

  3. We have been lucky enough to not have this problem as our little boy (now nearly 3) has always been a great sleeper. But we did go through a difficult period when he was about 12 months (I think??). We would put him to bed and if he started getting upset we would sit on the floor with our back to him beside his cot and sing twinkle little star, then move a step towards the door. If he started getting upset again we would sing twinkle again to calm him then move another step toward the door and keep doing this till we reached the door. He would usually be settled and asleep by then but if not we would repeat the process. Can't remember how long we did this for - maybe a couple weeks. It might be a bit hard to do this for a 3 year old too but could be worth a try... Good luck!

  4. Most of the time my 2 go to bed without too many problems. I agree with what Georgie Love and Renee said and not to lie down on the bed and to sit and talk and slowly move towards to door. Also one thing we have always done and it relates to just about everything is to give them plenty of notice about whats about to happen. ie when bedtime is approaching to say bedtime soon and we start about 10 mins before the actual event and then reminders every 2 mins or so. This goes with bathtime, going out to the shops, leaving the playground etc.... We also have our 3 year olds bed set up so he can look out the door if he wants so maybe changing the furniture around, you could also take busy shopping for some special new bedlinen, pj's or cuddle toy? (or better yet make something for bedtime together.)
    Goodluck and I hope you find something that works soon.

  5. There are some good 'one step at a time' ideas above. I found the book 'the no cry sleep solution for toddlers and preschoolers' had some good practical ideas when I was doing it a couple of years ago. I would be happy to send it to you to borrow if you email me your address buttonsbyloulou@yahoo.com.au. I bought it on ebay.

  6. I'm going to back the gentle approach of sitting with her for a few nights instead of laying down and then slowly (over a week or two) moving further and further away until you're near the door. It's going to take a strong-will and consistency but you'll be teaching your a very valuable skill!

    Good luck!!!

  7. I'm sure your child already has a gorgeous bedroom but the only thing that worked for me was to let my child design her own bedroom. She was four years old and still not sleeping through the night. We tried controlled crying for one night then gave it up as too traumatic all round. In the end I painted a lovely pastel mural loosely based on the Faraway Tree story by Enid Blyton on her walls (which were white). Also we got her a toy owl that stayed in the Faraway Tree (on a small shelf, painted to match) and I'd say that the owl needed to go to sleep, and maybe she could too. We left on a nightlight so she could read picture books (on another small shelf close to the bed). I also had to be a little crafty by telling my child I couldn't read her a story each night if I was tired, and I would be tired unless I went to sleep very soon. So it was a mixture of manipulation and murals. I know there is nothing as wearying as not getting any sleep. My child is 16 now and she still reads until 1am while I am out for the count at 10pm. I think some kids need less sleep than others. Good luck.

  8. I don't think it is unreasonable to expect your special little one to go to sleep on her own as soon as you follow her night routine and kiss her and leave the room. That is not unreasonable. You also need to realise SHE CAN DO IT. She does it already at care and during the day so SHE CAN DO IT AT NIGHT. she has you both worked out (grin) and has worked out how to extend the stay with you both - whether it be positive or negative she has your attention and she is awake!

    As you can see there are lots of ideas and suggestions. I think they are ALL good - controlled crying to no cry solution. You need to do what you feel works for you and your child. You can always try a mix of all or just one and see if it works - then try plan B and so on. Just be mindful - what ever you do there is always a consequence!!!!! Wether it be she goes to sleep straight away or there is an extra addition to the routine!

    Go with your inner gut feeling. It does not mean it is right but then you know you have done what you are comfortable to do before you try another method and then have no regrets or questions...

  9. Oh Cathy, just reading this gave me a flood of emotion and empathy for you!
    I have had a brilliant sleeper, (no.2) and a really, really, REALLY bad one! (no. 1)
    There is no easy answer, but maybe learning what others do can inspire you to make a decicison. OUR no.1 was rocked and rocked to sleep, and never learnt to sleep on his own, because we never really gave him the chance to learn on his own.
    I fully support those who practice co-sleeping, and believe it can take a lot of patience. I just know in my heart for us, although I almost did everything but co-sleeping, I was heavily 'involved' in trying to get him to sleep. In the long-run, it's just not helpful.
    I just knew when no.2 came along, apart from praying a LOT, I found strength to let her self-settle, and yes, it does involve some crying, however that is short-lived. Our no.2 goes to sleep in minutes for her day and night sleeps. We have routine that she knows involves her sleep time. It's more peaceful and lovely, to put our no.2 to bed, at the same age because there are no dramas.

    I was at the mother/baby unit with no.1, and they recommend a book called 'sleep right, sleep tight.'
    I found it great.
    But haven't needed it with no.2.
    I'm not an expert, but believe if you do take the hard line, it works quicker.
    Busy will not suffer any harmful effects if you change the status quo, but get some support for yourself and be consistent, strong, and have faith.

    It's great that Busy can go to sleep in 5 minutes at day care, hold onto that, because it sounds like she has a bit of a pattern set at your home, and a different one at day care.
    At least you know she can do it.
    I'm sorry I have rambled a bit.
    If you need any more info, help, ideas, email me, and if you want I can send the book I mentioned over to you.
    Cathy, above all remember it's not selfish to want some quality time back, you need it.
    Much love,

  10. i would definitely go with the sitting quietly and moving further away over a period of time. As has already been mentioned I believe, I think you are being played a little bit. If she can do it as pre-school/kinder then she can do it at home.

    How old is Busy now? Under four? No point trying to explain in too much depth to her, you might have to just set the rules for bedtime (whatever you decide these are) and live with consequences. Just remeber that the rule of thumb is that 'three times = a change in routine'. Good Luck.

  11. Oh I sympathise! I think she's old enough to understand a very simple explanation, so you don't have to appear heartless to her - I think it's feeling uncaring that makes us dread leaving them unsettled.

    So, going back to how it was with my boys, I would set up some 'props' which help her to know that you have prepared a safe place for her to sleep. For some of my friends that was a tape recorder of gentle music or stories which turned itself off after a while. For us it was a favourite toy and a 'bunny clock' which we could put to sleep at the same time as the boys, which 'woke up' with them in the mornings. I explained that when they had these things, they could go to sleep, and that it was sleeping time now. Love and kisses and goodnight.

    Yes, at first they cried, and I would go in after a few minutes and say, I love you, you have what you need to sleep, goodnight. That did take a few nights of leaving them crying for a bit and going in at timed intervals, but then they settled down.

    I read a good phrase along the lines of 'many of us confuse harming our child with hurting their feelings'. It is right to dread harming your child, but hurting their feelings will happen every now and again, and they learn that this doesn't mean you don't love them.

    You've had some great advice here - we have different ways of going about things but I think that the underlying desire to give good skills to our children yet keep time for our adult relationships is the same!

  12. I'm stopping by from Friday Follow. I'm starting at the bottom of the list now :)
    I would have to say let her cry it out and lengthen the time you would go in to check on her. Give her a pat or reassuring words but don't pick her up. I tried Jetta's Nest approach but I think it took longer! The first approach worked best for us. Good luck!

  13. It's terrible how, bit by bit, you create these complex sleep routines and rituals... at one stage with Teddy I had to swaddle him right up (and he was big by then)and SWING him wildly while singing The Wild Colonial Boy for half an hour. Oh my god, that was a tough phase.

    Both Ivy nad Ted have needed short spells of controlled crying. It's tough at the time (especially the first time) but really, once you see the results, they justify the means. Busy will be better rested and you and Chef can have some proper couple time. Important stuff! My advice around it would be to not get too worked up - parenthood is a series of compromises. Nobody likes to hear their child cry...but two nights of tears versus a year of sleep-time stressiness...

    If she can do it at day-care, can you try and replicate some of their pre-sleep routines to help with your new system? Really explain it to her too, that things will be more like day-care sleeps at home...

    In the end, you just gotta do what suits your family and your baby. You'll be right. Good luck Cath! Hope it passes soon.

  14. Very similar situation posed on my "work thing" last week. Advice from the professional was to gradually start changing your routine. Sit in bed with her, don't lie down, sit next to her in bed, sit at the end of her bed, sit in the doorway... you get the picture, gradually over time until one night you get out the door. ;)

    If she insists you lie with her why not try to explain the change to her a few days before you start, so she can prepare herself. I clearly remember being 2 or 3 and my Dad explaining to me that I no longer needed my bottle to go to sleep with anymore. We had a nice chat about it one day, he waited until I understood, then we held hands, walked out to the bin, I threw my bottle in, we said a little goodbye, put the lid on and apparently that was the end of that. I never asked for it again.

    You never know, it's worth a try.

    Whatever you end up doing, Good Luck!

  15. Oh dear. This sleep thing is such a story. Both of my kids were shocker sleepers. I had the same problem with my daughter and her day sleeps. She wouldn't sleep at all during the day and then come 4 or 5 in the afternoon..she was exhausted. And if by some miracle she did sleep during the day, she would be wide awake at night and would only go to sleep at about 11 in the evening.
    One thing that did work was putting my daughter into bed at about 7:15pm and then telling her I was quickly going to shut the blind in the kitchen and then I would walk out...shut the blind and go straight back to her. She would be lying there wide awake. I just carried on telling her I was quickly going to do something - like fold daddy's shirt or make a cup of coffee for daddy or wash a cup or hang a towel up - and that I would be back to check her VERY SOON. She must know that you are coming back, so don't take too long. And guess what? It works. My daughter is 4 now and every night I still tell her I'll check up on her...but most nights she's fallen asleep before I can even get back to her. For the first few nights..check up on her often and then start stretching it out. Some nights I tell my daughter I'm drinking a cup of tea and then I'll be back to check her, which obviously can take a while..and if she calls me, I just tell her that I'm not finished my cup of tea yet. It can take a while to work, but if you put her to bed at an earlier time...there's a chance she could be asleep by 8.
    Feels like I've just been waffling on and on. Hope you get some use out of it. All the best!

  16. if you find the answer can you let me know?
    i got up 3 times last night. i have an 18-month-old newborn :-)

  17. Oh my!
    I'm onto my second 3 year old and I'm down with the screaming!!!!
    My kid's could scream (and have) for hours!!!
    Doesn't make a scrap of difference and everyone is frazzeled.
    My first kid(now 7)is a shocker of a sleeper and we did all of the things you guys are doing.She still had a dummy at 3 too!!!
    But you know what....about 3 1/2,close to 4 it just sorted itself out.
    Miss Skye,our second(was 3 in Nov)will NOT have a sleep in the day at home,is a nightmare about 4-5pm then crashes at about 6.30pm.
    I reackon they have their own built in sleep clock going on and you can tweak it,but not change it.
    Try and ride it out....your probably nearly there when it sorts itself out.
    I just read down the comments and I think sitting's probably a great idea rather than lying 'cos you feel so whacked when you get up.

  18. Our night time routine is choose 2 books, we read them and say good night...hugs and turn their music on.They have a small dim night light...but they love their classical music.
    We've never laid down with then until they have fallen asleep...our youngest used to stall us...and ask a billion and one questions...but now we have learnt to answer them all before closing the door...yes we've filled your water bottle, yes we'll check on you, yes we'll wake you up in the morning...and we talk briefly about the next day...
    it seems to work.
    Good luck.

  19. i would get rid of the double bed. we were given a double bed and we put it in my daughter's room. she would ask us to lie with her and we would take turns trying to get her to sleep. quite often i would fall asleep before her (especially when i was pregnant with my 3rd child), then wake up but too late to get anything done. once we got rid of the bed there was no space for us to lie down. we try to set a time limit for our kids but they never get to bed before 8 (if i'm lucky). good luck with all the suggestions!!!

  20. Wow! Lots of responses and I have been slack and not read them.
    So here's my bit...I too am a breastfeeding to sleep mum and we also co-sleep with some of the kids at different times. We have found these things to work when we want to get out before they are asleep. Keep the routine. Sitting not laying down. Say you'll stay for 5 mins and then have jobs to do (or what ever) and you will pop back in in a min. Then pop back in. And keep popping back in. I find it helps that they hear you doing your jobs and get a sense of you being 'there'. If you did sit down and she comes out. Just pick her up and put her back. And don't talk to her! Just give her a kiss and leave. And keep doing that until she goes to sleep. It can take awhile but I have never been a fan of control crying or control comforting. We went to sleep school and failed! Have worked out what works for us and ignored all the other crap lol! The other thing to coincided is that she might not be sleepy enough. If it is taking an hour to go to sleep maybe push back her bedtime 1/2hr and see if that helps.
    And if all else fails, trust yourselves and know that this too shall pass. You guys can only do the best you know how and Busy loves you regardless if you think you are doing it 'right' ot 'wrong'. Good luck! xox

    Oh and anything written by Pinky Mckay is fabulous!

  21. ((hugs)) each child is different and both mine are down at 8pm and asleep by 8.10pm...on the weekends we allow them to stay up a little longer...but we make sure their routine is consistent - kinda boring but my kids need the routine otherwise they are all over the place...have you tried the control crying and pushing it out a little longer each night?

  22. Hi, following you from Friday Follow.

  23. What wonderful comments. For my 2 children I found out that lying down doesn't work because for all the reasons you said and ends up in me being really cranky. I am a big believer in the sitting at the side of the bed for story time. Then i explain that mummy has a few jobs to do so that we can have fun tomorrow its important that I do them tonight. I explain that I will be back in 5 minutes to check them. I leave then keep popping back every 5 minutes. Good luck.
    Love your blog

  24. My son was always a great sleeper and then for about a month or two we were having a really hard time at bedtime. The first time he cries, I'll lie with him and rub his head or back and then leave the room. Usually, he's okay with that. If not, I go back in and I'll sit on the bed but I won't lie down with him. I just let him know I'm there and generally he's okay with me leaving. We definitely have our nights when none of that works though and I don't have any good advice for those nights. :)

    Sorry I'm late! Stopping by from Friday Follow. :)


  25. oh cath, i hear you loud and clear! i too breast fed roy to sleep up to two years, and generally he has been a pretty great sleeper. now though being in a big boys bed he does take the opportunity to get up whenever he pleases.
    the only thing that seems to guarantee him staying in bed and going to sleep is stories in bed, the knowledge that mr owl, or gus the bear are 'very tired and need to have a big sleep' and something to look forward to. i always talk about what we are going to do the next day, and ask him what he would like to do also. its probably of no help, but it will certainly pass, as i was told the other day re- toilet training "it will happen, he wont be wearing nappies to high school"
    good luck cath! keep us posted!
    may the force be with you! ;)

  26. This is such a big and potentially fraught topic! I think there's some good advice in the comments above though. I think gradually moving away over several nights is a good idea, and possibly changing to a single bed might help limit the temptation to keep lying down! We used 'Sleep right, sleep tight' to help us establish a good nighttime routine, but I'm also comfortable with some crying (angry crying is fine for me, highly distressed crying not). Though T was the tough one when we were first implementing things (it took less than a week in the end).

    Just remember that changing any habit is really hard, and can be quite distressing at times (er, der, I hear you say ;-)), but the end result is worth it.

    Anna x

  27. I really feel for you- it is so hard. I tried sitting next to but not talking or cuddling and then night by night moving a couple of inches away. Sitting quietly and not moving..until I eventually made it out the door and she didnt need me anymore to fall asleep. good luck

  28. Welcome to the Friday Follow. I'm your newest follower. So glad to have you with us. I'm way behind but here I am.


  29. I'm a big softie with my kids (now 11, 8, 2 and 8 months), I breastfeed my youngest to sleep now and we often have the 2 year old in our bed. Having read most of your comments I'd like to back the 'pop in pop out' approach. Lie down, read a book, sing a song, then have to go do something, then come back - you know the drill. It hasn't been a perfect journey, but we're getting there! You know you will too. Good luck!

  30. hope you got it all sorted lovely, it is hard and it does pass!
    wanted to leave more the other day but have been a little absent from things due to this unbearable heat.
    hugs & hope to hear some good sleeping soon

  31. We're experiencing the same issues with our three year old. Different to your situation he used to put himself to bed but recently has insisted on being hugged to sleep - with the same consequences that you've been experiencing for my partner and I. He too has a daytime nap and we've tried to drop it but it just ends up in an afternoon of hell. I have tried to discuss it with him and met with responses such as "I don't like to talk about feelings" ... but since I love to talk about feelings I have persisted and got some small insights.
    I think that part of the issue is that as he is getting older his fears are growing, this coupled with a better recollection of 'bad' dreams can make going to be of an evening a bit scarier. The other part of the issue is that his political awareness is growing and as such he is testing his parent's limits and boundaries.
    I've started putting a time limit on the evening hug... "I'm going to lie here and hug for your ten minutes and then I'm going to get up." This has had mixed results. I often get up and then stand at the door for a while so that he can see me. I look directly in to his eyes - but will NOT talk to him. I have worked out that he likes to engage me in chit chat to help keep himself awake. So I just don't say a word.


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