Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bedtime routines

We started our bedtime routine with Maddie at a very young age. I think she was only a few weeks old when we started bathing her every night, doing baby massage/lotion etc afterwards in a desperate attempt to make her understand that this meant "bedtime" and bedtime meant "sleep".

As she got older the routine expanded - books + bedtime bottle + rocking chair cuddles were added. When we changed her room over to "big girl" status, we got rid of the bottle + rocking chair - but somehow more books were added to the routine and a sippy cup of milk became a requirement.

It got to the point that it was taking almost an hour from start to finish to "do" bedtime. Which meant we needed to get started by 7:15 at the very latest to get her down for 8pm.

That was - until last week. You see - Maddie spent the past two weeks at Gramma V's. And god bless her heart (because thank you to any grandparent that will take an almost-3-year-old for an extended visit!)... but now we have a toddler with a 10pm bedtime, who wants her overhead light to be on all night and who is demanding about a thousand books to be read to her before night-night.

And that? Makes for an almost two hour bedtime routine. And we were thinking one hour was excessive.

So the past five days since being home, we have been working on ridding Maddie of these habits.

First to go was the overhead light being on. (Sidebar on this: not sure how or why, but Maddie developed a fear of the dark during her stay in Kingston. Which meant she asked for the overhead light to be put on before going to bed. Which then meant she either woke up to bright shining light at 4am and wanted to play, or woke up to it being turned off sometime before the adults went to bed and screamed bloody murder for it to be turned back on. It was..... in a word.... NOT fun). I wasn't about to let her get into this same habit at home - I figured if we had any chance of getting rid of this habit, it would be in her own room, where she felt most comfortable and where I felt most comfortable letting her cry if she didn't like it. It took one night to break this habit.

The additional books in the routine were a little harder - but we've just been consistently firm - she gets a total of 3 books ONLY and she chooses which books these will be before getting into bed. There have been tears and tantrums about more books, but again, with us holding firm she seems to be getting the picture that we're not giving her an endless supply of stories at bedtime.

And the last little wrinkle is moving the bedtime back up to where it needs to be. This has been trickier - and she can fight (oh she can fight) going to bed like no one's business. Requests for more milk, a glass of water, one more story, just one more kiss, a hug from daddy, please mommy - don't leave me here... we've heard it all. And being told that "Please don't leave Mommy, I miss you" is a bit heart-breaking when you need to walk away.

But the temper tantrums have been epic. There have been time-outs. There have been cry-it-outs. There was even one small (diapered bum) spanking administered by Daddy. (Yes, I can't believe I'm even admitting it out here in blogspace - let the vultures now rip me to shreds) But we're making progress. She went to sleep last night by 9pm with barely a complaint. If we can shave another 1/2 hour off in the next week, we'll be back to normal (since 8:30 is acceptable in the lighter days of summer)...

Here's my question to the moms out there though ... how long is your bedtime routine? What does it involve? Are we insane to be happy enough with a 45 minute routine that includes 3 books? Or is that normal? (Is anything really normal?) ... tell me peeps... I want to hear your opinion on this.



Joanna and Marcus said...

spanking...good for you. lol
bedtime routine? takes us about 45 min as well. bath, sippy cup of milk and 3ish books. too funny. we have h down by 7:30 though - but that's just so him and Alex go to bed at the same time. Otherwise, I would push it to 8:00 as well.

Deb said...

I'll also give you kudos on the spanking :-) Have done it myself, once to each of them, at it sure as hell worked, let me tell you!
As for bedtime routine, I guess we have it pretty easy. Our guys don't get a bath every night, it's every second or third night. So bedtime routine is jammies, teeth, 2 books (1 for each of them because we usually sit all together in Austin's room to read them) and then bed. Alex sometimes drags it out with one more trip to the potty, but that's it. The whole thing takes 20 minutes or so. Maybe a little more.

Cheryl said...

Our night routine sounds much like yours and usually lasts 30-40 minutes which scares me considering we have another on the way. We do bath, bed play (he loves to jump and bounce on our bed), the he still has a bottle (he's two *gasp*) and we read two books. Usually after this I have to go in one more time and either snuggle or read another book. While the timing scares me considering we'll have to soon do it with two, I do love it. Hubby does the bath, I do the stories and bed and we each get a little alone time with him. I figure in a couple of years he'll want a peck on the cheek and us to just walk him to the door!