Thursday, 2 May 2013

Bedtime routine fatigue

If there is a Guinness Book of Records entry for the longest bedtime routine in the world then my three-year-old daughter would win it.

Right now, I have bedtime routine fatigue. After three and a half years of lengthily bedtime settling I am wanting out. I just want an easy day where I can say, "Go to bed now", and wham, she's there.

When my daughter was a tiny baby she required lots of settling to get her to sleep. I was constantly on the phone to Tresillian and reading every sleep training book known to man. I ended up using a mix of breastfeeding to sleep (a bad habit which is hard to break), controlled comforting/crying and rocking her cradle. When she grew too big for the cradle I found a port-a-cot that I could shake vigorously rock. This worked well for awhile but soon the rocking no longer worked. She was also no longer breastfeeding from 16 months. Nothing was working.

We then developed a routine which involved the usual dinner, bath time, reading two books, bed, prayers and then added some quiet singing. Each day and night my husband or I would sing her a song. This was fine until the routine slowly grew and stretched to be at least an extra half an hour some nights. We were now singing three songs, blowing kissing at the door, getting glasses of milk and water.

One of the songs we would sing to her was "Amazing Grace", a beautiful song, but oh how I needed grace itself. Sometimes I'd be singing it through gritted teeth and fumbling over the words just to get it out.

This sleep routine generally took an hour and a half - not including dinner.

Then when our second child came along all hell broke loose and she was taking FOREVER to go to bed. I was also up through the night with the baby and was completely exhausted. We got to a point where we were doing anything to get her to sleep so the baby would sleep.  Bad, bad, bad habit to start. We then began using baby sleeping music on top of everything else to soothe her..

At some point along the line, we added ‘telling her stories from our childhood’ to the routine and  'relaxing story' - a little bedtime meditation thing I made up to help her relax her body so she would stop rolling around the bed.

Why I added more things to this already long routine I don't know. I guess I was desperate. I thought maybe I'd find the perfect formula that would help her go to sleep and not keep calling out.

But we have instead become slaves. Slaves to my three-year-old daughter's routine. We have tried to cut the routine down and we have had some success. I put my foot down more now. I am happy to say, "enough is enough!" But she seems to not listen until I reach that point of boiling.

I hate having to raise my voice and get angry. Every. Single. Day. Did I mention this routine happens twice a day? After lunch and at night? Yes, she still has a day sleep. She needs it at least 4-5 times a week to keep her sane.

I can tell I've got bedtime routine fatigue because I'll often sit here at my desk swearing under my breath while I try to find the sleep music she wants from YouTube. I am not a swearer. It's only come upon me recently. I hate what comes out of my mouth. I get so frustrated.

Today she was crying out because she wanted a non-existant rocking chair to be delivered to her room. I don't give in. I guess that's easy when a rocking chair does not exist.

Routine is great but I am hoping that there will come a point where we can slowly cut it down. For now, I just need to see the positives:

-          It does help her unwind (if you count screaming and crying…hmmm)

-          I get quality time with her (true to an extent)

-          I get to listen to beautifully, relaxing instrumental music while I clean up the kitchen

-          I can re-live my childhood through telling her every good story I can remember (although I am now running out of stories)

-          I am learning to be patient (but need to work on no longer swearing.)

How about you, what’s your bedtime routine like with your kids? Anyone got a longer one?

I’d be interested in hearing all about it.


1 comment:

  1. Eek! This does not sound like fun!!

    We've just started a new way of putting Lior to sleep (15 months). We're just laying on the bed with him (while we're travelling he isn't in a cot, just on the bed, so we can't leave him or anything), in the dark, and letting him wriggle till he goes to sleep.
    He must take a while because I often wake up in the morning and realise that it became my bed time also (I blame pregnancy for this. haha!).

    I hope you find a better solution that doesn't take up too much time! I find that time between their bedtime and yours is so precious, either for spending time with your spouse, or spending time alone!!