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Sleepless in Suburbia, Part 835

I recently wrote about how Owen liked to stay up until midnight (ok, 9:00, but it often felt like midnight) and asked the internet at large for advice. By far the leading contender in the Advice Olympics was "put the child to bed earlier." Which seems like a no-brainer, right? But sometimes, especially when you have been sleep-deprived for going on five years now, the obvious does not seem so obvious. Many people suggested that we gradually move Owen's bedtime earlier to help him adjust to the change. But what really rung true for me was a comment from Sabrina. She said now look, this child isn't going merrily along until 9:00 every night at which point he drops like a stone, so it isn't some ingrained circadian rhythm that is keeping him up. It is that it takes an hour to get him to sleep, so if you want him in bed an hour earlier, start the whole hullabaloo an hour earlier.

Um, ding ding ding ding ding? Yes, of course. Owen stays up late because we let him stay up late. We let him stay up late because it took so damned long to get him to sleep that we thought staying up later might make it go faster. And it did, for a day or two, and then it didn't. So we let him stay up later still. Lather, rinse repeat until insanity ensues.

So we realized that we were the problem. We also realized that Owen has never had his own bedtime routine, at least not since he stopped nursing. We've been doing Mia's bedtime routine and basically just trying to keep Owen from interfering, and once that is done he gets either dumped into bed (bad) or taken downstairs to watch cartoons (also bad).

We've made some changes. Owen now goes into his room at 7:00 every night with whichever parent is up in the rotation (we alternate kids nightly). That happens regardless of where Mia is in her bedtime routine, which has meant that she has had to endure some changes to her usual schedule, but she's been very gracious about it. So Owen's door closes at 7:00 and he is in his room for the night (well ok, the first part of the night). He gets stories and cuddles and his lovies and his blankie and his music turned on and Mommy or Daddy sitting in the glider reading (to ourselves, not to him) until he falls asleep and clearly this is still far from perfect, but you know what? He's been asleep by 8:00 three nights in a row now, and sleeping until 7:00 most mornings. He's also cut his naps down from 1.5 hours to 1 hour, but that still means that I usually get 15 minutes a day with both children secured in their rooms and that is generally enough to preserve my sanity.

And finally, we moved him out of the crib, which was two months overdue. It has only been two nights, and he is waking up more often at night confused about where he is, but he likes to climb in and lie down, so it has helped the falling asleep process at naptimes and night.

Next challenge, getting him to sleep through the night, but one thing at a time, right?

Comments (13)

Sleep deprivation can definitely cause logic deprivation too ;) Glad the little man and you are getting some more sleep! I was babysitting last night and putting a 1yo to bed...singing him Christmas carols to calm him haha! The first time I put him down he cried for a couple minutes, I went back in and rocked and sang some more (a bit to big sister's consternation! - I think they're about a year younger each that Owen and Mia) and then he was out, and I felt like a little bit of a rock star ;) Second try was just fine by me! Big sister went to sleep after my lyrically deprived renditions of a couple Disney songs...(Okay, fine, so I actually do remember *most* of the words to "Part of Your World" from 20 years ago...or I may have it on DVD. *ahem*)
Anyway...my point, you are a rock star, and so am I. *teehee*
/superlongcomment

I agree with Heather -- when you're in the middle of a pattern like that, you sometimes need outside help to see a way out. Congrats on finding one! I hope it keeps making things better... Maybe Owen will just like it so much he'll decide all on his own to sleep all night!?

I agree in all things, when we are caught up in the midst of our drama, etc. We (err, I) often need the helpful input from an outside party.

I recently had this situation--of course had nothing to do with sleeping kids, but I think the idea still applies.

Have a great day!

I am glad to hear things are better! It always seems like the most obvious after you've got it figured out.

Yay! Glad to hear it works. I think we need to do this too.

Ok, I need to hear more about this parent-reading-to-yourselves thing. So he's ok with one of you being in the room but doing your own thing? I am so jealous.

Fabulous. Y'all are smart people and know some smart people.

The whole starting-at-7 thing is crazy to me. I guess it's because *IF* my husband is working during the day (sometimes he works nights) then he doesn't get home until 7:30. Sometimes closer to 7 than 7:30. So one thing I have not done is put Thomas to bed starting so early, since I hated for him not to see his dad. (And really, it's a morale thing for my husband. He misses his boy!)

We sit by him in a full sized bed (I have the mattress pushed up against the wall and he uses the boxspring to climb up) and after several books, we hold his hand and then sit there with a book. For ourselves. The bad part about this is sometimes he'll lay there, forever, with his eyes wide open, clinging to our hands. I am READY to move into the glider across the room. Thanks for the inspiration.

Beth, fabulous progress. I feel routines are key. They get used to routines and adjust.

Hot dog, I love it when I try something proactive and... IT WORKS! I'm so happy to hear that you are getting the little bugga down a bit earlier. Evening alone time is KEY to my sanity.

I'm glad it's working. Since I put both kids to bed 6 nights a week, I have yet to find a great way to get both kids down by myself. Ella is 15 mos. and Samantha will be 4 next week. I'd love any tips for getting two kids down on time and with a good routine.

Yay!
I am so glad that you guys are approaching a schedule you can endure. And I agree with an above commenter--WTF? You get to read your own book while he lays there? JEALOUS.

Congrats! Can you come over to my house now? I have a very cute 5 month old I'd like you to meet.

My girl is 4, and still doesn't have a set bedtime. I totally forget to put her to bed most nights. Because she's the third, and I am a terrible mom.

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