Bedtime is a Battlefield

Bedtime with Bun is not getting any easier.

If I start putting them to bed too early, she runs and runs around the room. She tries to climb into bed with Monkey; she turns off the night light; she throws stuffed animals all over the place.

If I start putting them to bed too late, she just screams and cries. An over-tired Bun is a bad, bad thing.

It’s a fine line to balance, and I have only managed it a couple of times since putting the girls in one room. I’m still running up and down stairs trying to convince Bun that it is time to lay in her bed and fall asleep. Sometimes I get so angry! I just want to yell at her — sometimes I do, and that certainly doesn’t solve anything.

On the nights when she is overtired, it’s the worst. Bun has embraced her two-ness — she has become one with being two. As a consequence everything must be her way.

Saturday night was by far the worst. She had fallen asleep in the car on the way home from the South Side, so I was hoping I could get her into her bed for a nap. She was wiped out (another reason I like those South Side outings so much). But she also had a cough bugging her (allergies, I think), so when I got her out of the car and into her bed, she woke herself up. She stayed quietly in her room for about an hour (talking and singing to herself); I kept Monkey downstairs for “quiet time” (she mostly drew pictures). But no more sleep.

And then I think I let them stay up a little too late, starting the bedtime routine after 8 p.m. (when I should have already been watching the Penguins game). Bun cried throughout her mini-bath (no hairwashing), all throughout Monkey’s mini-bath, and then kept escalating: she didn’t want her diaper on; she didn’t want her pajamas on; she didn’t want me to stay or leave. She hit, bit, screamed, cried, and absolutely would not climb into her bed. I gave her a countdown a couple of times, and left the room when she wouldn’t comply.

So then she stood screaming for me at her door (gated in). She tried climbing out a couple of times, but realized she had no where to go once she was halfway up the gate. When I would come back upstairs, she would hit out at me again. We did this for at least half an hour.

She was finally so worn out I was able to get her pajamas on and get her laying in her bed. I put my head next to hers on the pillow, and she sniffled into sleep.

(In the meantime, of course, Monkey is whimpering quietly in her own bed, curled in the fetal position with her hands over her ears. I think of her as collaterol damage in these bedtime battles with Bun. And I feel awful about it.)

The worst part of all of this is I feel like I’m damaging Bun in some way: the wrestling into a diaper or pajamas, the ignoring, walking away from a screaming toddler. I understand that I have to set boundaries with her, and that I cannot allow her to be a tyrant. She has to learn to go to bed. I try hard not to scream back, but after so many days in a row of this behavior, I lose it. At least once a week I freak out on her, which only makes her cry all the harder — and makes me feel all the worse. Saturday night this week was the night.

(In case you’re wondering where DearDR is while all of this is happening, the answer is usually: at work. He has yet to do the bedtime thing with both of them on his own. He’ll be thrown into it sooner or later.)

I don’t know what else to do. Will Bun learn that bedtime is for bed and sleeping, without constant vigilance? How do I balance bedtime discipline with bedtime soothing? I hate that it’s become this contant fight — I dread it, and I can’t imagine that either of my girls looks forward to it either. I need to change it somehow.

One thought on “Bedtime is a Battlefield

  1. I have felt your pain in the past. The girls requested that they share a room this summer, so they are in Genna’s room. So far, so good.

    We basically had to bribe Genna in the past to stay in her room and go to sleep. We told her that if she didn’t stay in her room and go to sleep (without whining and crying) that she would NOT be able to wear a dress the next day. That was sort of easy because she only wants to wear dresses.

    Our problems with Genna lie mostly in the hours in which she is awake. We now threaten that we won’t go to the pool if she misbehaves. Yesterday we got the the pool and I didn’t even get to sit in my chair before having to haul her back home and sit in her room for an hour. It sucks. She just.doesn’t.get it. And she’s 4. At last Bun is younger.

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