Tonight’s bedtime was about as bad as it gets. My parents are visiting from out of town, so we had unusual disruptions from the routine, but more importantly, A-, our 8yo, has terrible allergies this time of year, so she was sneezy, sniffly and generally cranky and miserable this evening.
Usually we try to get the kids into bed, lights off, by 7.30, the latest, but tonight we didn’t get to bed until about 8.20 or so. Ugh. Our 5yo, G-, fell asleep fairly quickly, but A- couldn’t stop sniffling, so after a little while, around 9pm, Linda just got up with her to help her have a shower and give her some allergy medicine (not that we’ve had much luck with allergy medicines, Western or alternative).
That would have been okay except Linda had to grab some shampoo from the kids bathroom and somehow made just enough noise to wake G- up from his sleep, at which point he promptly collapsed into inconsolable crying and complaining about miscellaneous injustices.
At 9.30pm at night, with a 5yo that’s just woken up from a sleep, it’s not easy to reason with them and convince them to just lay down and go back to sleep. As usual, it was also The Mom Show so there wasn’t much I could do with either child (fortunately the baby had long since fallen asleep!) because all I heard was “I (gasp) want (gasp) mama” or similar.
But we haven’t yet figured out how to clone mom, so I had to get involved with one of the two, so I sat down with G- in his room and said “stop crying and I’ll tell you a funny story.”
Which, of course, didn’t work at all. He wasn’t able to reason, he was an exhausted 5yo boy. 🙁
Instead, I pulled out my secret weapon: I opened up one of his favorite books (A Thomas the Tank Engine compendium) and began reading one of the stories.
But he doesn’t realize that when I’m reading to get him to calm down, I read more quietly than normal, and more slowly than normal (I’m usually quite an animated reader).
Within two sentences he’d stopped crying so he could hear the story, and within two pages his breathing was slowed down to normal. By the end of the fifteen page story he was calm, collected, and able to have a whispered discussion about what he needed before he could just go to bed.
We read one more story, and before the story, I had him climb into his bed and leaned against the side so he could lay down and peek through the railing to see the pictures. Before I read it, we agreed that after the story it was time to go to sleep.
And it was. And he did.
If you’re in a situation with a little one who just can’t get back into their body (as we characterize it in our household) then try my trick. It’s remarkably successful.