Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bedtime Struggles & Successes

First...the bedtime struggles:

Anyone who knows us well knows we have had some major sleeping issues with our little Ellie. Almost from time time she was born, bedtimes and nap times have caused us problems. She only really started sleeping through the night around a year old and then about 2 weeks into that, she got extremely ill and then with all the hospital stays and traveling, she stopped sleeping through the night again. A few months later, we were back on track, however, bedtimes were still a big struggle. I honestly dreaded putting her down for her nap and for night as it was a battle nearly every single time. One night I spent 7 hours putting her to bed. Yes, you read that right. 7 HOURS. This girl just hates going to bed. I've read books, I've tried all sorts of methods, I did research. Nothing seemed to really work. Sure, some nights we would have a bit of success, but nothing lasting. She would go through phases where she'd go to bed fairly well at home, but then anytime we traveled somewhere, it was a nightmare. Often I would spend hours trying to put her to bed while everyone else played games or visited. Not fun is an understatement. Last weekend we ran into the same problem. This time, she went to bed surprisingly well, but then awoke around 1 a.m. with a terrible stomach ache (this is totally understandable). We got the stomach ache fixed and then the bedtime struggle really began. She wanted to play, not sleep. We tried letting her sleep with us. Nope. We tried letting her cry it out for awhile. Nope. I tried rocking her and cuddling her to sleep. Nope. We tried nearly everything. Finally, around 4:30 a.m. we (Ellie and I) crashed on the couch. She and I slept a grand total of 2 hours. We dabbled a bit in letting her sleep in a toddler bed to see if that would help, but after a few days and nights we gave that idea up for now. Now you know some of our bedtime struggles.

Now on to some bedtime successes...

The last method we recently tried was the Supernanny's (from that t.v. show) sleep separation technique. Basically, it goes something like this. Do your bedtime routine, kiss & cuddle, put them to bed. The first time they get up, go to them say "it's bedtime", give a short cuddle, then back to bed. The second time, you say "it's bedtime" with no cuddle. After that, you basically just ignore them while sitting close by so the child can see you. (If the child is no longer in a crib, you put them back in bed without speaking every time they get out). I did this with Ellie in her crib. For about a week, I would stay in her room until she fell asleep because she constantly would cry to get out of bed.The goal was to get to the point where she no longer put up a fuss when I put her down for bedtime. I didn't think this technique would work because I thought I'd then always have to stay in her room until she falls asleep, but I really tried to stick it out. This week, however, has been phenomenal at home! She has been telling me when she's tired "seepy" or "night night" or "bed," and now when I put her down, there hasn't even been a peep! The key is to wait until she is just tired but not overtired. Some nights, she is so tired that she wants to cut the bedtime story short and points to her bed, indicating she'd rather sleep instead. I am hoping and praying that this is going to be the new norm for us. Now, bedtimes are enjoyable rather than a battle. Of course, I know there will still be hiccups now and then, but I hope this becomes the normal routine. As for the toddler bed...well that can wait!

(Oh...and I chose a picture of a giraffe because that is one of Ellie's favourite animals. She cannot sleep without "Gerry Jaff". This morning she drew a little scribble on a paper, pointed to it, and said "Jaff" (giraffe).

1 comment:

Emily said...

I really like your blog and I think you are doing a great job! Hang in there with the bedtime struggles. I wish I had some great sure-fire bedtime advice for you. My kids have been okay at going to bed once they are IN bed, but we've had tooth-brushing struggles with our son. (I've found this Mom's Guide to be helpful: We are also Christians and a lot of times when our kids are struggling with something we let them know we need to ask God for help, and then pray together for help with that. It always helps my perspective and they calm down, too. Hang in there!!

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