Monday, July 13, 2009

Good Night, Sleep Tight... well just SLEEP!

Bedtime, naptime - such bittersweet times of the day. Theoretically these are times when the little cherubs are getting what they need - lots of good sleep for developing bodies and minds - and the adults are getting what they need - some time to themselves before passing out from shear exhaustion in front of the Sopranos or something. Lately however, these have become times of strife in our house.

Since Quinn is only 3 months old (I know right?? THREE months!) we don't expect much from him in terms of a nap/bed schedule. I'm mostly just thrilled that he's been going 4-6 hours between feedings at night lately - so yay Quinn. No, this is a post all about our dear Lily. As I started reading this I remembered writing a bedtime post not so long ago - so I just went back and re-read it. It's been almost a year since then, but sadly not much has changed and well, I guess it's gotten worse. Coupling Lily's blossoming vocabulary and negotiating skills with the emotional strife that follows the appearance of a new baby brother.. and well... ugh - disaster.

(I started this post a while back, but never got around to finishing it - however, I do want to capture the insanity, so I'll try to pick it back up)

The main issue has been getting her to JUST GO TO BED. The elaborate ritual just gets more and more elaborate and then is followed by a number of call-backs that can last well over an hour. One of the things we tried was to write down ALL the steps of the bedtime routine and post it on her wall. That way we could ALL (read: Lily) be sure that everything was done and there'd be no need for the calling back. While doing this exercise we realized that there were FOURTEEN steps, that's right - FOURTEEN:

  • clean up
  • potty
  • wash-up/bath
  • brush teeth
  • pullups/PJ's
  • read stories
  • get blankets - the colored one! (knit by Auntie Dory's Mom Linda)
  • get animals (choices change night to night - ugh)
  • get water
  • talk about our day
  • goodnight song (in which we sing to people in New Jersey, Fall River, Somerville and sometimes Canada depeding on her mood)
  • CD player
  • door medium - Lily has decided that closing the door is no longer OK, so it has to be "medium": not too open, not too closed.

(I know - I'm missing some.. the list is at home.... I'll have to check later)

Even after doing all this we often get called back. Sometimes she calls by actually calling our names, but most times she just sort of fake cries until someone shows up. The lists of requests have included (but are not limited to):

  • more water
  • take my water away
  • move this animal off the bed and put him/her elsewhere
  • remove this animal/toy/random item from my room completely before I freak out
  • put the green blanket on BEFORE the colored blanket, then the pink blanket on top of that
  • don't leave me alone in here (my personal favorite)
  • I want to sleep on the floor
  • I want to sleep on the bed AND the floor AT THE SAME TIME
  • open door more
  • close door
  • be quiet, don't talk to Daddy, so I can sleep

I wish that I had actually written this post right after a particularly bad naptime/bedtime incident, as originally intended. At that point my emotions about the situation are much more on the surface. Lately things have been going better, so I'm not as close to JUST HOW INSANE it was driving me. In general I've surprised myself with the patience I'm able to muster up when dealing with a difficult Lily situation. However, the bedtime thing has nearly broken me - especially lately given the lack of sleep that comes with a brand new baby. When she is "supposed" to be in bed at 8PM and we're still dealing with shenanigans at 9:30 I want to just poke my eyeballs out with a hot spoon. It's like she's stealing the few precious "adult" hours of my day and sucking the life out of me at the same time. Not fun.

I am glad to report though that it is getting better. I did some online "research" and found some helpful posts at Ask Moxie that made me feel much less alone. It seems that it's not actually all about Quinn's arrival - 2.5 is a common age for yet another sleep regression. After poking around online we ended up trying to push bedtime a little earlier and actually had some success with it. I think the trick is that giving her lots of time to get through the routine - instead of starting at 7:45 and rushing her through stuff - leaves her feeling more secure and puts a better close on the day. It's lose-lose the other way since we may have her in bed at 8ish, but will then spend the next hour reassuring her that yes, we still love her by responding to her crazy requests.

That said, I am positive that Quinn does affect the balance here as well. Since he's still so little and eats at least once during the night we have been keeping him in our room. And when Lily goes to bed, Q is generally being held by one of us still. I KNOW that she feels unsettled at being alone in her room while Q has us all to himself. A common complaint as we leave her is "but I'm all alone in here". One time I told her "you're not alone, Mommy and Daddy are right outside the door". She looked at me and said "But I'm alone on MY PILLOW, Mommy". Ugh - can't argue with that!

We had a small breakthrough on the Quinn front last week - the night before heading down to New Jersey for a little vacation. I had packed the kids up during the day, but still had my own packing to do in the evening. So instead of putting Q to bed in our room - we decided to try putting him down in the crib in Lily's room (soon to be "the kids" room). I was pretty nervous about the whole idea, but Lily was SO PSYCHED. She went to bed with no trouble, turned herself around so that her head was closer to the crib and then told me "you can go now".

Filled with trepidation, I left the room - wishing for the first time that we had a video monitor. I did walk by the room once and caught Lily out of bed trying, clinging to the sides of the crib, peering in. It wasn't quite the vision of my nightmares - the one in which she's scaling the crib with a knife between her teeth and a pillow clutched in one hand - but I went in and got her back in bed anyway. I told her that if she got out of bed again that Quinn would have to go back to my room. That's all it took - we never heard from her again and they both slept happily in there for three hours until Q coughed himself awake.

Although they didn't last together all night - we are optimistic that soon, they will be sleeping in there together and we will have a small portion of our lives back. I'm sure the sleep issue isn't solved, but it seems that a little more patience on our part, some advance planning and the slight balancing of the field has all contributed to make bedtime a *little* easier - for now!

1 comment:

DDreslough said...

Oh, Ellie went through that phase!! It was maddening! I think kids do like to sleep with other "beings" in the room -- all alone seems just unnatural. I used to let myself fall asleep next to Ellie. Clay would come in and wake me up, and we'd go have "Us" time. It was really weird having a one hour nap at 8pm, but I adjusted. :)

Even now, I still go up many nights when she's having a tough time and rub her back until she conks out. I use some of the TTouch stuff. It was developed for horses, but works great on humans too: