[ Received an interesting and distressingly common complaint from a reader about being unable to get her young children to sleep at a rational hour and, with her permission, I am posting our back-and-forth here. If you have any additional comments or ideas, please do leave them and help this poor couple out with their perpetually awake little ones! –DT ]
Hi Dave, You have info in your attachment parenting blog about sleep patterns and getting the kids to bed at a reasonable hour. I just read one post about your little guy refusing to go to bed at 10 PM. We are lucky to get our kids down before midnight. It’s often times 1, 2 AM.
Thatâs brutal. What time do they get up? Do you have pretty quiet dinners and evenings, or are you all pretty wired and moving around? We try, as best we can, to have less than full brightness lights, talk quietly and only allow âmellowâ? play so we can get things to slooowwww down. Recently weâve been trying to have 7pm bedtimes and itâs working pretty well, the kids are almost always asleep by 7.45 or so. Thankfully, we haven’t had a 10pm night in long time. The 2yoâs different because sheâs either fully ON or OFF, no slowing down with her. But thatâs just her age…
I know it’s partly because my husband and I never wind down in the evening — that’s the only time we have to work on our websites, and we’re driven by finances to keep working hard. Our question since early in our parenting journey (and we had embraced attachment parenting, breastfeeding, and co-sleeping since day one), can we ever get our kids to bed earlier without us having to go to bed early too?
You should be able to do so. What if you just spent an hour having bath time and reading books, with the lights almost all off, and every distraction (Tv/computer) turned off? If they could really go to sleep by even 9pm, youâd have a few unencumbered hours, and if your kids are like mine, youâre only at about 10% efficiency when theyâre all over the place while youâre trying to work. 🙂
Lately we have finally gotten our oldest, 4, who is rational enough to understand consequences if he doesn’t, to go to bed at more or less a reasonable time. We had to put a TV in his room to get him to fall asleep on his own, though. For months he would only sleep on the living room couch until we did that.
Ah, ugh, Iâm not a fan of kids having their own TVs, I have to say. Have you tried one of these spiffo new rainbow changing color nightlights? ($10 at Home Depot) Or get a controller that gives him 30 minutes of TV then powers the device down for the night? My experience is that my kids zombie out but take a LONG time to get to sleep if theyâre watching TV. Do you have the TV on in the living room, btw? If so, maybe that needs to be shut off until theyâre asleep too (I have a TV in my office but itâs off until everyoneâs asleep, partially because I watch lots of action movies inappropriate for little ones!)
The 2 year old is a maniac at night. She shows no signs of tiredness, other than circles under her eyes. No yawning, no falling over trying to stay sitting up. Often she’ll get sleepy in the early evening (7-8 PM), nurse down, and I can leave her in bed and go downstairs, but she wakes up in an hour, and is ready to go, won’t nurse back down.
Thatâs really tough. Does she nap during the day? What happens if you try to get her to sleep earlier in the evening? When she doesnât have a nap, our 2yo usually falls asleep around 6.30pm â if we can get her to bed that early â then sheâs out until about 6am the next day with precious few middle of the night wakeups.
It’s just a nap, and then she’s really ready for a late night. When we finally cash in and insist on her staying in bed with us instead of bothering her brother, she has a screaming and kicking fit, but will eventually give up and nurse down to sleep.
Ugh, sounds really tough!!
This has been such a problem for us. It’s holding us back with our own health goals, making us crabby toward the kids, and preventing us moving forward the way we want to with our business. Sorry to go on and on, it was nice to have someone to talk to about this.
So how about it, AP parenting readers and parents, any additional suggestions for this exhausted couple on how to get their little ones to a more normal and healthy sleep cycle?