… and still, sometimes bedtime just stinks

Last night I was at a workshop until 10.30pm, which wouldn’t have been a big deal if my kids would have cooperated with the babysitter and gone to sleep when they were supposed to. But they didn’t and when I walked in, there they were, sitting in the living room, lights low, like zombies, waiting for me.
I chalked it up to the exacerbated separation fear brought on by our separation and the two different houses that they now inhabit: in fact, it was the first time they had a babysitter at bedtime here, rather than an afternoon playmate.
Still, it was a drag, and it took until almost 11pm for G-, our 8yo, to finally pass out, and his usual bedtime is around 8pm (though it typically takes him 30 minutes or longer to finally go to sleep).

This morning I got ’em both up and took them to school at their usual time, insisting that they get back into the groove. K-, my 4yo, did great, actually, and made it through the entire day without once passing out or nodding off, rather to my astonishment. She was a wee bit more testy, perhaps, because of her fatigue, but really, it was a pleasure, and bedtime with her was the usual breeze, with her deep asleep by 7pm.
G-, on the other hand, is still awake tonight at 9:45pm, which is just crazy-making. We went to bed at 8pm, had lights out at about 8:25, and now, over an hour later, he’s still awake. Yes, he did come home from school early and promptly pass out on the couch for a deep 75 minute nap, but he was missing a few hours of sleep from last night so that didn’t surprise me at all.
But tonight, tonight he’s exhausted and while he’s drifting in and out of sleep, he’s still not actually asleep at this late hour and it’s frankly driving me batty!
We have the same bedtime ritual every night and when he’s more peaceful he’s really easy, with a lit candle, a chapter of some book we’re into, and then he’ll roll over and pass out. But the last few weeks have been harder and harder at bedtime and I’m rather at a loss.
There’s always some excuse, and to be fair, I do think he tries to go to sleep, but with allergies and a cold we’ve all been fighting for almost two weeks now, it’s really crazy-making, and a groggy, tired, G- is far less fun than a well-rested young man. And, yeah, I use “fun” loosely. There are other words I could use that would make this less of a G-rated weblog. 🙂
So anyone have suggestions for a different strategy for getting an 8yo to go deeply asleep in a prompt manner?
Oh, now it’s 9:51 and he’s standing on the steps, “scared”. Time to go…

6 comments on “… and still, sometimes bedtime just stinks

  1. Dave, you have my sympathies in a big way… I read this about 15 minutes after the ‘bad dream’ of my own over-exhausted 5 y.o. caused fun drama here.
    Last night, she had sleep issues all night because today was the last day of preschool… and her little brain was wrapped up with the fear that somehow she would oversleep and miss it.
    Her first waking words were “is it time for school?” when she doesn’t go until 12:30p.
    Kid brains are so constantly processing, aren’t they? So easy to lose the path to peaceful sleep if there’s anything at all stressful in their lives.
    Hoping you get back to a normal sleep schedule sooner rather than later.

  2. My 8 year old goes through similar times, but honestly we have other issues going on (possibly bipolar, but certainly something awry). Anyway I got these really cool relaxation CD’s for kids, and they tell stories to help walk kids through the process of relaxing their bodies, as well as teach about being in control of their emotions and about affirmations and the like.
    This one is my son’s favorite. We’ve always lived in landlocked states, he was born in Colorado and now we live in Iowa, but he seems to have an affinity for the ocean. 🙂

  3. you can also use your computer to record and mix your own relaxation tape with you reading a favorite book with waves in the background..
    As to making them sleep.. you can’t.. it’s their body.. you can keep rewards down .. meaning when you put them back to bed get a loving, but short routine.. like.. a hug.. a loving “I know.. I love you.. ” and put them back in bed.
    I think we get angry because we feel that after bed time it’s _our_ time.. and we feel they are stealing out time when they don’t sleep.
    One thing I would try to avoid.. is saying, “go to sleep”.. all their buzzers and whistles for opposing daddy will go off.. and they’ll do their damndest to stay awake.
    oh.. and if they know you’re worried that your current living situation is making things difficult for them.. they’ll take you to the cleaners.. this living situation is perfectly normal for them.. it’s their situation.. if you make them thing it isn’t normal.. well.. then it wont be.
    Good luck.. it sucks to have bad bedtimes.. but it’s very common.. we all have them!

  4. the 75 minute nap is probably what did him in…if he’s drifting in and out of sleep maybe adding soothing music would set the tone for winding down if a hot bath doesn’t do it.
    My sympathies. I remember those days when my two sons shared a room out of necessity. YOW….giggling and getting out of bed.I probably should ave put them to bed at different times. Good luck!

  5. I second the recommendations for the Indigo Ocean Dreams CD, my son uses that and loves it.
    Dave, would it be possible for you to email me? I have a question to ask you and just could not find your contact information although I looked. Neither of my kiddos slept well last night so I’m a bit tired – I probably overlooked the obvious. 🙂

  6. How about sending him to bed, give him a hug and kiss, tell him to go to sleep and closing the door. At that age I can’t see why it would take more than that.

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