The Bedtime Battle

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I have a love/hate relationship with my children’s bedtime routines.

I know all kids are different, but it always astounds me how we can do the same thing with all three kids and get three vastly different outcomes.

As a baby, Eddie just couldn’t fall asleep on his own. We tried. Oh boy did we try. But I just couldn’t leave him to cry in his crib, so at a very young age, he was held until he fell asleep. Then he was read to and rocked to sleep. Then he was read to and laid by until he fell asleep…well, Ok that is the routine even now.

We tried putting him to bed without laying next to him. It resulted in some interesting “getting out of bed excuses” and even a couple times where he appeared completely naked requesting “a little help.” In fact, I wrote about all the ridiculous things he would say.

Charlie was so easy. We would feed him his last bottle of the night,  put him in bed completely awake, and walk away. He would sleep all night. Eventually we added books and rocking, but even then after he felt he’d had enough rocking, he would point to the crib and go to bed.

That was until he realized he could escape the crib.  Then bedtime became an all-out, throw-down battle with that child. Put him to bed, he gets out, put him back, he cries, gets quiet, gets out, put him back, ad naseam.

That is when the bunk beds came. My dad built the boys their beds, and since Eddie was the oldest, we gave him the pick of top or bottom. He picked bottom, and quite awesomely, Charlie got the top…and couldn’t get out by himself! 

Now our main battle is about getting jammies on and getting teeth brushed and which shows we will watch before and which books we will read.

Alice…well…she is a good sleeper. Such a good sleeper that lately she has been falling asleep on the living room floor. (If you follow me on Instagram, you have seen this phenomena). She wakes up just long enough to have her last bottle, then promptly falls back to sleep in our arms, and unless her teeth bug her, she’s out for the rest of the night.

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As the kids get older, they get slower about the nightly routine. Charlie somehow spends at least part of his “show time” in his underwear because apparently it takes him a full 20 minutes to put on pajamas, and just the other night Eddie told me he “forgot” to brush his teeth in the 30 minutes he had to do so.

I know we have not had the weirdest bedtime battles, nor have we had the worst. But sometimes, at the end of a long day, all you want is for the kids to go to bed…so you can go to bed.

Or eat chocolate and watch Netflix or DVR-ed SNL Jimmy Fallon episodes.

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Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I am part of the Netflix StreamTeam, so I share some things I love or write to a prompt once a month. In return, Netflix provides me with their service as well as devices to watch it on. All opinions and experiences are my own.

Goodnight, Bird

“Charlie, are you ready for bed? Go night night?”

“noooo!” he tells me in his tiny voice, shaking his head so that his too-long hair flops around his face. “NO nigh nigh!” He furrows his brow at me.

“Charlie…do you want to rock-a-bye?  With Momma and Woof Woof and Blankie? Come rock with Momma?”

“Ah nigh nigh. Ah rock bye.” And he gathers up his puppy and blankie, tucking them snugly under each arm, and trots off to his room.

“Nigh nigh, Dad-do! Nigh nigh Ah-dee!” He calls as he waves.  Sometimes he stops for hugs and kisses. When he does decide to give kisses and hugs, he is very aggressive about it. If Eddie tries to get away without meeting Charlie’s demands for goodnight kisses and hugs, feet begin to stamp and a very small voice gets very, very big. “AH DEE! AH DEE NIGH NIGH!”

As I begin walking down the hallway towards his room, I can hear his little feet trucking after me.

He closes the door himself and finds me waiting for him in the glider. I pick him up and tuck him into the empty spaces against me. If I am not quick enough, he will look up at me and demand, “boat, ma ma. boat.”

And so I start singing Row, Row, Row Your Boat while he pushes his little fingers through the crochet of his blankie.

In the breath after I sing, he quickly mutters, “song,” from behind his Pipey.

This is my cue to begin singing You Are My Sunshine.

Sometimes he gazes up at me while I sing, but mostly he just rests his head in the spot on my chest that has pillowed his head since his first day.

Sometimes he pulls Woof Woof to his face, but mostly he lets his fingers weave in and out of his blankie.

After two songs we rock silently until he sits up and looks at me.

“Do you want to lay in your bed with Glowie?” I ask him.

He nods and mutters, “Yup”.

I scoop him up and hold him close, sniffing his hair and smootching that squishy cheek. I wish I fit in the crib with him so I could soak in his warm smell all night.  It’s so soothing.

But he leans toward his bed and I carefully lay him down on his pillow. He rolls to one side as I turn Glowie on, tuck blankie around him, and find his kitty and baby to lay next to him.

Goodnight, Bird

His face is so close to Glowie’s lit up face that his nose is almost touching the soft light of the glow worm. I stroke his cheek.

“Nigh night, Charlie Bird. I love you so much. Sleep tight and sweet dreams.”

He never utters a word as I leave, and it always appears that he will drift right off to sleep.  Yet less than five minutes later, I can hear him happily chattering with his Woof Woof and kitty and baby and Glowie.  Sometimes I hear him jumping in his bed.  Sometimes I hear him kicking the wall.

He almost never cries out or calls for us.

Eventually he finds a spot and falls asleep.

He is our “good” sleeper. Rarely does he need a buddy or help. Seldom does the throw a fit in protest of bedtime–any bed time be it nap or night time.

There are times I wish he “needed” me more, times I wish he wanted to cuddle and fall asleep on me. There are times I wish he just wanted to sleep in my arms.

Most of the time, though, I am Ok with his easy bedtime routine.

Besides Eddie still needs me to lie next to him at night until he falls asleep, and if I am lucky, he will curl up against me and breathe softly near my face.

Goodnight, Bird

our time

I didn’t take many lone pictures of Eddie while we were at the cottage last week. That wasn’t on purpose, but as I click through the hundreds of shots Cortney and I got of those five days, most are of groups of people doing group things.

There is a pretty legit reason for this: during our waking hours, we were all always together. We were with each other.

Eddie and Charlie always had someone to play with…even if it was each other while the rest of us sat and chatted.

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The days were a relaxed busy…if there is such a thing.

We kept the boys going going going.

But at night…when it was quiet in the cottage, and his little brother had gone to bed, and his aunts and uncles and cousins had gone to play cards…Eddie and I readied him for bed.

The first night he said to me, “mom, I’m scared.”

When I asked why he said, “Because it’s new and that is a little bit scary. Will you lay by me?”

I told him I would be sleeping in that little bed with him all night since daddy would be sleeping in the front room with Bird.

“Can you just stay in bed now? Don’t go read your book?”

The first night I tried to tell him I would just be outside his door. He could lay with his head where his feet should be and stare at me if he wanted to.

He did.

The second night we both sat up reading until bed time.

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He simply would not go to sleep unless I was in the bed with him. So Ok, I went to bed by 10pm every night.

I’m so glad for this.

We would talk about all the fish on the walls (there was a wall paper boarder of fish around the room) and how they  made a pattern.

Each night he asked me to read the same three books, the last one always had to be Love You Forever. He would recite the song with me:

I’ll love you forever
I’ll like you for always
As long as I’m living
My baby you’ll be.

Each night he asked me if I would keep him safe.

Each night he rolled into me and put his arm out to make sure I was there as he fell asleep.

He has always needed someone to be there as he drifted to sleep, but knowing I wasn’t leaving made it different. I wasn’t getting up to go to my own bed after he fell asleep. We would chat some nights until I finally would say, “Ok bud. We need to get some sleep. I love you.”

And of he would say, “I love you more than the wide world, mommy.”

No matter how uncomfortable that dang bed was, or how much Eddie tossed and turned, I sort of loved those four nights.

I didn’t get good sleep and as a result found myself heading down a dark road, but in those moments of falling to sleep, all was Ok.

He would start to cry in the night…scared and not knowing where he was. He would start to call for his Daddy because that is what he does at home.

But I would immediately wake up, turn to him and rub his cheek and tell him I was there. And he would immediately settle back into sleep.

Each morning I would sense his waking at least 30 minutes before he opened his eyes. He would start to toss and turn and move his arms and legs. I did my best to sleep through it, but just as the tossing stopped and my mind slipped back to sleep, I would feel his blue eyes.

“Mom…..Mommy?”

When I opened my eyes he would smile, “Hi, mommy. I want to get up now.”

And up he got, turning on the light, finding his clothes, getting dressed, and heading out to sit by grandpa and grandma.

The day had started and it was time to share my little buddy with everyone else.

As much as I really didn’t like the sleeping arrangements or the quality of the bed, I ended up by being surprised by how much joy that alone time with Eddie brought me.

I realized how much I missed his tiny self, but how proud I am of his big boy self.

I also realized how important it is that Eddie and I have time just the two of us.

A little our time.

 

on bedtime and becoming moot

Bedtime with Eddie has never been anything remotely what I would consider falling under the definition of “easy”.

I’ve lamented this all over this blog.

When he was a colicky baby, Cort and I would say to each other, “It can’t last forever, right?” And it didn’t. But bedtime didn’t get easier.

When he was sobby and clingy and needed to rock for over an HOUR at bedtime we would argue about whose “turn” it was and how it wouldn’t last forever and that when he was older we wouldn’t put up with this “shit”.

When he moved to a Big Boy Bed and got up one kazillion times we would rub our faces and pull our hair and whine about whose turn it was to bring him down to bed.  Whoever wasn’t on the verge of punching a wall “won”.

This week Cort came upstairs after an hour with Eddie.  Eddie came upstairs for some ridiculous reason (booger on his finger? fuzzy on his floor?  Llama Llama giving him the stink eye? Who knows), and Cort burst out, “THIS IS NOT HOW IT SHOULD BE!  BEDTIME ISN’T SUPPOSED TO BE LIKE THIS!”

Eddie’s thing lately is that he wants us to “lay by me a yiddle bit.”  But what that really means is just lay here and I will talk and goof around until you fall asleep in my bed. Then I will fall asleep and daddy will have to come get you at 10pm because it’s time for you to go to bed.

It’s stalling.

Sort of.

Eddie is three and a half.  He knows what is expected at bedtime.

When it’s nap time, he will say, “Mom. Naptime.” And we will go down, he will crawl into bed, I will tuck him in and kiss him and that is that.  He knows how to go to sleep.

Bedtime is…different for him.

I don’t really know why, but I think it has to do with the dark and his mind working and how he processes everything.

That boy thinks a LOT.

Anyway, when Cort found the end of his rope, I realized that if I could? I would crawl into bed with Eddie every night and fall asleep next to  him until my bedtime.

Tonight, we read two books and then talked about those two books.

Then he had to poop (which is his regular time as of late. He’s like a little old man), but when he came back, he asked me (again) when we could have another baby in our family. (not for a LONG time, little man).

That brought him to asking how God puts babies in a mommy’s tummy anyway, and how does he pick if it’s a boy or a girl? And maybe we should leave God a note on the wall with a cookie and asking him for a baby sister. Also? God doesn’t have a beard because beard’s are weird and God is not weird.

He didn’t stop there. Nope. Then he began questioning why God and Jesus had to live in a barn (the Christmas story is still fresh in his mind) and sleep on hay and was there baby food there for Jesus? And did he have baby toys? Because goats are not good toys.

Around 9pm (an hour after we started this bedtime adventure), he asked if he could read books.  I said sure, and I kissed him and turned his light on and said goodnight.

He was good.  Until he found a Llama Llama book.  He loves these books.  But not having them live in his room.  He thinks Llama Llama is giving him stink eye. So he brought it up to me.

We had some more set-backs tonight due to a sore knee (he fell on some ice today) and some “I don’t like the dark or the shadows,” but after some dad time, he is all set.

I really do like cuddling him until we both fall asleep.

Because really? Like Cortney and I always say (usually in exasperation), “it won’t last forever.”

Someday I won’t be able to lie there with him…and he won’t want me to.

I won’t be able to feel his feet start to rub together and hear his breathing slow.

He won’t turn into me while letting his hand go limp, releasing Lamby onto the pillow next to him.

My presence won’t be needed to comfort him in the darkness and shadows.

He’s getting so big, that these little boy moments wash over me suddenly and remind me of how time keeps on trucking…and takes the babies and the little boys and turns them into teenagers and men.

Teenagers and men who don’t need their mommies to snuggle them and talk out their worries and their fears.

Because by snuggling him and reassuring him now, I am raising him to be a man who is fearless and confident.

I am working to make myself unnecessary.

It is both beautiful and heartbreaking.

But that is motherhood, right? In order to be a success, you have to become moot.

So instead of complaining and whining about how my boy needs me at night, I am going to let him need me…and be Ok with it.  Because I am his mom and he is three and it is my job–right now–to be needed.

Stay in Bed, I Said!

Bedtime and Eddie have never been friends.

As a baby, he would not fall asleep unless someone held him or rocked him to sleep.  Even when he had fallen asleep, if you placed him in the crib just so, he would wake up like he had been faking it all along and start screaming his head off.

Cort used to do the “arm check” to see if he was really out. You know, where you lift and arm and if it just limply falls with a thud, he’s out. Put him to bed and back slowly away.

The rule was that if Eddie falls asleep anywhere? That is where he sleeps. And whoever wakes him up gets a punch to the throat by the strung out momma.

Wait. What?

Oh right. Sleep.

Well he does better now.

I mean, we are over three years into this, and we can get him to nap with no fight.  In fact, he asks for it and then stays sleeping for an average of two hours each afternoon. Yes, it’s as glorious as it sounds. I think I may have decided no one living in this house is allowed to NOT nap in the afternoon.

Naps for all! Weeee!

Anyway, night bedtime is the opposite of easy. It is all the swear words rolled into one big ugly mess of blah.

Night bedtime and Eddie are enemies.

We have always had a set routine.  And even though bedtime is not pleasant, if we get off that routine for whatever reason? Bedtime becomes akin to what I imagine hell to be like.

Since he realized he could get up from the big boy bed any old time he pleased (it actually took about a month…I know, right?), he has become the master of excuses.

Seriously. I can’t make this crap up. When he comes upstairs with a new excuse, I could swear he has a team of sitcom writers down there telling him what to do next.  And then I check for video cameras in my living room because…come on with these things:

“Mom. I need sleepy socks on and I can’t do it.”

“Mom. There are weird shadows.”

“Mom. I found this booger.”

“Mom. I peed. Little help?” (said with his pull up in one hand and his balled up jammies in the other…as he stands there nude.)

“Mom. I needed this in bed? That all right?” (said with a pinwheel in one hand and a flashlight in the other.)

“Mom. I had a bad dream.” (even though he has not fallen asleep yet.)

“Mom. I need to stay up for 100 days.”

“Mom. I can’t sleep. I don’t know how.”

“Mom. I pooped in my pull up.”

I swear he does that last one ON PURPOSE just because he gets to stay up longer than if he poops on the can.

Anyway, we couldn’t stand it anymore.  We had to figure out a way for him to say in his dang bed. If for no other reason that bedtime SHOULD NOT TAKE OVER AN HOUR EVERY NIGHT! (yes, that required shouting.)

So what to do, what to do?  We ultimately decided to combine a few of Eddie’s most favorite things: 1) being in charge. 2) charts and stickers and 3) treats.

My kid is such a sell-out for a sticker and some candy.  It would be sad if it wasn’t so awesome.

It goes like this.  If he stays in bed (unless he has to get up to pee or poop), in the morning he gets to put a sticker on the chart.  Once he fills a row (there are boxes in a row, so a week if he plays his cards…er stickers…right), he gets to go out on a “treat date” with either me or Cort.

Not only does he love to stick a sticker on the chart, but he loves counting how many more boxes until the treat.

The first week he went with Cort on some errands and chose a Pez dispenser.

The next week he picked a cookie at the “donut shop” with Cort.

This past week he and I went Christmas shopping and he chose a donut hole at the “donut shop.”


Plus he absolutely LOVES going out with just me or just Cort.  He feels so big and proud.

(also let’s pause for a moment to look at that photo again. I mean, he is the perfect blend of boy and baby right now, right? The lashes and the lingering baby knuckle-dimples? swoon. I love this boy so much.)

The thing that sealed it was we let him be in charge.  If he wants to look at books in his room after we put him to bed, he may. But he needs to turn out the light and go to bed when he is done.

It’s all him.

And he loves it.

Just like potty training, we have to learn to release a bit to him, let him show us how to parent him, and then do our best to guide him.

It hasn’t been perfect.  It still takes a bit some nights.

If he gets himself thinking about something that bothers him, he will turn his light on and sit on his bed crying until I will either rock him or lay in bed with him while he talks it out.

But we are working on it.

What is bedtime like for your kids? Wait…if it’s easy breezy I don’t want to know!  Just kidding…you can tell me. Charlie is super easy…right now. I’m sure he will change that up for me the second Eddie gets easy, right?

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