Bedtime and babies – two things that simply don’t gel. You would (logically) think they would – remember the ‘sleeps like a baby’ phrase? – but logic and babies/toddlers are another two things that don’t gel.
When babies are newborns, you don’t get much sleep. There is no real routine, there are constant feedings, and the tiny stubborn things WILL NOT SLEEP unless on your shoulder or in your arms. Dare you put them down on the bed/cot!
When babies are not-so-newborn, there are still nightly feeds. Or teething. Or illnesses. If nothing else, then a wet nappy.
When babies become semi-toddlers (i.e. past six months), they learn to roll and crawl and sit and stand. And love to practice these new skills IN THEIR SLEEP. Which eventually leads to no sleep.
When babies become toddlers, well, there’s a LOT going on in a toddler’s world so sleep is a waste of time. Besides, they drop their morning nap and all that jazz so things go for a toss anyways! New routines need to be made… again!
But the kind of Bedtime Blues I’m facing at the moment are, in my opinion, the most difficult. Little Man is almost three, so it’s safe to call him a Threenager. Or, as non-mums would appropriately say, a pre-schooler. (Most mums with a three-year-old would agree on Threenager, though).
Why most difficult? Because a 2.5-3 year-old can talk, back-answer, challenge, throw tantrums, have opinions, have strong dislikes and cannot reason to the extent an adult can. Coz he can speak his mind, but not be willing to listen to ours. Coz he has an innate knack of knowing how to delay bedtime. It’s just something a kid around that age does. SO. BLOODY. WELL.
So, here’s what bedtime currently looks like in my house…
Me: In five minutes, the TV will go off because Fireman Sam is going to bed. And so must you.
Little Man: Ok mummy
Five minutes later, the TV goes off. Whining. I ignore. Tantrum. I still ignore.
Me: Come on. Let’s brush your teeth otherwise the ants will bite you.
Little Man reluctantly walks to the bathroom, but scoots off the second the toothbrush reaches the mouth. A cat-and-mouse chase ensues. He’s laughing. I’m annoyed. EVERY. BLOODY. NIGHT. Eventually the teeth are brushed after some (innocent) threats:
No TV tomorrow
Daddy will take all your toys to office
Ok, mummy’s throwing your cars in the garbage bag (I say that with a real garbage bag in hand).
Reluctant good night to daddy.
Inside the bedroom.
A bout of jumping about. Then…
Little Man: Read me a story…. No, not this book, THIS book.
Me: But we read that yesterday (and the day before and 457 times before that, and every night since May)
I re-read the SAME book. Lights off.
In the darkness, I hear a voice…
Little Man: Read it again.
Me: No. One book before bedtime, remember?
Little Man: Sing me a story (Instead of ‘tell me a story’, cute, eh?!)
I make up a story. Then kiss him good night.
Little Man: More.
Me: It’s over, darling. (I say ‘darling’ while gritting my teeth hard)
Little Man: Then tell me a short story. Pees, mummmmy, pees.
Me: Ok, but only a short one, then no talking.
Short story over. I kiss Little Man good night again and pretend to close my eyes.
Little Man: I want milk.
Me: You already had some.
Little Man: I want more.
Me: I’ve told you, no milk in the bedroom. And we’ve brushed our teeth.
Little Man: But I’m hungry! (I know for a fact that he’s not)
Me: I’ll give you milk in the morning. Have some water just now. But I want you back IMMEDIATELY.
Little Man darts out of the room. Any excuse to do so.
Little Man: I want daddy…
Me: Daddy’s doing some work. He’ll come in later.
Little Man: But I want to tell him bye
I know this conversation will go on and on, so I let him go out to tell daddy bye. He darts off again.
Darkness… (I’m sure you’re getting the drift by now…)
Little Man: Where’s my yellow car?
Me: In the toy box
Little Man: I want to sleep with it.
Obviously, he darts off to get it.
Little Man: Mumm…
Me: Quiet now. GO TO SLEEP. NOT A WORD MORE
Little Man: But I’m not sleepy
Me: It’s nighttime. You have to sleep.
Little Man: But its light outside and there are no stars in the sky
I am really not in the mood to explain British Summer Time and clocks going back at this point. So instead I shout: GO TO SLEEP. ENOUGH NOW. And I turn the other side.
Some more whining, protests, if he is really tired then a full-blown tantrum… everything except sleep!
Depending on my tiredness level (which is directly proportional to my irritation level), I either shout, threaten (the same threats as above) or simply ignore.
More often than not, I fall asleep before Little Man…
(Meme by fromthebottomofmypurse.com)
Tips to survive the Bedtime Blues…
- Keep your toddler’s water beaker by his bedside – asking for water when in bed is a trick ALL toddlers know.
- Also keep whatever else it is you know your toddler will eventually ask for (I keep Little Man’s yellow car in the room itself, so it doesn’t give him an opportunity to leave the room).
- Invest in thick curtains/blackout blinds, especially during summer.
- Grow a thick skin. It’s tough to ignore those pitiful pleas of ‘Just one more story’ or ‘I’m hungry, just another drink of milk’; but take solace in the fact that you are teaching your toddler all about boundaries. And the bottom line is that he is getting adequate sleep.
- And last but not the least, as in every other aspect of babyhood and toddlerhood, BE CONSISTENT (however tired you might be). No means no, so if you don’t read him that story again, stick to your guns every night.
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