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I Need Help

We have serious bed time issues here and we are just at a loss as to what to do. If you’ve had toddler bed time issues, I need your help! Here’s a brief run down of the issues and what we’ve tried….

  • Bed time is at 7:30pm – most nights the boys don’t actually fall asleep though until 9:30 or later. That’s two hours of messing around!
  • The boys do still nap most days, but even on the days they don’t nap they still mess around for a couple of hours.
  • They’re waking up at 6 or 6:30 in the morning and often have crabby tendencies as a result.

What We’ve Tried

  •   Super Nanny technique of just putting them back in their beds without talking. The boys thought that was hilarious.
  • Locking them in their room (we’ve reversed the door knob) and ignoring them. Works great until we hear crying and fighting.
  • Sitting the offender in an extra long Time Out (5-10 minutes depending on how many times they’ve been in TO that night already) in an attempt to let all the kids calm down completely.
  • Moving the offender to a different room to fall asleep and then move them back to their room after they’re asleep. Problem here is those door knobs aren’t reversed, so Nick and I will often end up in the hall holding the door shut until they just give up and lay down.
  • Giving them 10 minutes to just lie in their beds and talk before telling them it’s time to be quiet.
  • Sitting on the floor in their room for 10-15 minutes until they’re calm and quiet (then about 5 minutes later they’re wild again).

Some of those attempts at controlling them have worked for a week or two and some have never worked. Last night a friend suggested giving them each a certain number of “passes” for coming out and asking for hugs, kisses, to be covered with a blanket or to use the bathroom. I may give that one a shot, even though I’m not convinced the boys are old enough to “get it”.

Any other ideas? By 7:30pm my patience with the boys is done. Another 2 hours of shenanigans sends my stress level through the roof! Nick and I often alternate dealing with them, but boy would it be nice to just sit on the couch and talk or watch a movie without having to pause it every 3 minutes.

  • July 15, 2010 - 2:41 pm

    Lauren - We have almost the exact same isssue with our 3.5 year old son. He likes to sleep with the door open so… first strike with being out of bed or loud is shutting the door halfway. Second strike is taking away his flashlight and/or book. Third strike is shutting the door all of the way. Which then leads to screaming which wakes up my younger one. After about 2 weeks of this approach, I can almost always guarantee he'll sleep once I close the door half way.ReplyCancel

  • July 15, 2010 - 3:00 pm

    CJ Sime - We tell our daughter, if she wants to be up then she has to clean her room. That usually does the trick.

    Good luck!!ReplyCancel

  • July 15, 2010 - 3:36 pm

    Anonymous - If they sleep with a special blanket or toy you could try taking that away. Also you could try taking away a favorite toy that play with in the day and tell them that they will get it back when they start going to sleep better. I imagine they can climb gates so I guess when you move them to another room there is not use putting up a gate to keep them in that room. Good luckReplyCancel

  • July 15, 2010 - 3:38 pm

    Anonymous - Maybe a positive reward? What do they really like? Whoever stays in bed without making noises gets a reward the next day. Along with some negative reinforcement. Whoever causes trouble gets something that they really like taken away the next day.ReplyCancel

  • July 15, 2010 - 5:33 pm

    Anonymous - 7:30 seems kinda early for bed maybe try laying them down at 8. Also when do they wake up from nap? I don't let my toddler sleep past 3 or she is not ready for bed in the evening at 8 (she wakes up between 7-7:30am) Just some suggestions you have to find out what works best for your family!!ReplyCancel

  • July 15, 2010 - 5:37 pm

    Sarah - Helen – we are in the same boat as you so don't feel alone. Fortunately for us, the girls each have their own room. We put up those temp gates across Anna's and Em's doorways at night until they fall asleep. Allie is usually super good and will go into her bed and stay there.

    My girls don't climb over the gates – one is a bit loose and Em knocked it out of her doorway one night but went back to bed when I told her too.

    Another option that we did early on was to purchase these kiddie proof door thingies. They attach to the top door frame and lock the door with a pull thing. I can't describe well- i will have to find a link and post it. Anyway, I think they need to be separated to fall asleep and if you use these – you wouldn't have to stand there and hold the door closed.

    I feel your pain – believe me.ReplyCancel

  • July 15, 2010 - 5:38 pm

    Susan M. Heim - This is a huge problem with multiples. My twins do the same thing. The first thing that struck me when I read your note was that the boys may have outgrown the need for so much sleep. Bedtime at 7:30, getting up at 6:30, plus a nap is a LOT of sleep! If they're sleeping during the day, they may legitimately not be that tired at 7:30. You may need to give up the naps (tough for parents, I know) or give them a later bedtime.

    Make sure they get lots of activity during the day so they’re worn out at night. My boys go to sleep much more quickly when they've spent time at the pool or beach that day.

    Let them “read” by themselves in their beds. They think they’re “getting away” with not having to go to sleep, and yet looking at books might make them sleepy.

    If they pester you with requests for drinks or the bathroom, make a rule that there’s only one potty break and one drink break after bedtime, and be tough. This lets them know you're acknowledging their "needs," but only to a certain extent.

    Make sure they have no soda, caffeine and sugar after dinner. Allow them a small glass of milk at night as milk has natural sleep-inducing qualities.

    If there’s something your twins really look forward to each day, such as ice cream each afternoon, tell them there will be no ice cream the next day if they get out of bed. Of course, they’re going to test you and do it anyway, thinking you’ll forget or give in the next day. Stay firm, no matter how much they beg and plead. Remind them why they’re not getting ice cream and offer them another chance for the next day if they’re ready to behave that night.

    Make sure they have a comfort object to sleep with, such as a special blanket or stuffed toy. Try to reserve it only for bedtime so they look forward to being able to cuddle with it at night.

    Make sure the room is dark enough at night. If the moon (or sun) shines in their room, get blinds. However, you might still need a nightlight for them if they get scared.

    Sorry this is so long! I hope some of it helps…ReplyCancel

  • July 15, 2010 - 8:11 pm

    Laci - Man, it's like you were re-writing the post I did last week. I have 2 and a half year old twins who share a bed. We've been having the same bedtime and nap time problems. Good luck.ReplyCancel

  • July 15, 2010 - 10:44 pm

    Brenda B. - We have bedtime issues too, so I'm not one to preach… but I have noticed by putting bedtime back by even 30 minutes has helped somewhat. I think part of it is it's still so light out at 7:30 I wouldn't want to wind down either.ReplyCancel

  • July 16, 2010 - 2:22 am

    Emily @ Little Home - I once heard that little boys need to be run like puppies to get their energy out 🙂 I find swimming wears my 3 year old daughter out pretty well. Your boys seem pretty active, so I doubt that lack of exercise is the issue, though! Maybe 8 or 8:30 for bedtime? Or like mentioned above, maybe it is time for tangible rewards and punishment? Ah, the joys of finding the right adjustment to the routine… I'm sure you are ready for bed pretty early these days, yourself!ReplyCancel

  • July 16, 2010 - 2:54 am

    kdliberty - It not work for a few more months but once you have a good bump try this:

    1)You are going to be big brothers soon is not that exciting! We need to practice being one. Big brothers and big brothers go to bed at bedtime! They do all sorts of fun things too. However, they teach younger brothers and sisters important things to-like how to go to bed.

    2) After the baby comes you can also tell them if you wake the baby we will not be able to do ___ tomorrow…ReplyCancel

  • July 16, 2010 - 1:53 pm

    L Lanter - Boy it sure is frustrating to have adult evening, quiet time interrupted, isn't it? All parents need that time for themselves.

    I would suggest giving each child two tokens for passes to call for Mom or Dad. They lose a token each time they get out of bed, but any child with tokens left in the morning could turn them in for a treat (small toy, pennies, etc.)or put a sticker on a chart and 7 stickers earns a treat.

    Send the parent that the child does not ask for. It's less fun for them.

    Bedtime means in bed. Allow them to take books to bed (one of my sons takes 4 or 5 each night)and read quietly to themselves until they fall asleep.

    Be consistent with bedtime and returning them to bed. It will get easier as they get older and have more self-restraint. Hang in there!ReplyCancel

  • July 17, 2010 - 12:59 am

    Emily @ Little Home - I received the gift certificate today – thanks!ReplyCancel

  • July 17, 2010 - 5:56 pm

    Jessica Griffiths - Ginger has always listened to music at bedtime and probably around your boys age we started giving her a book or two to read. We figure since my husband has to read to fall asleep, it might be helpful for her to wind down that way also. Liam is slightly younger than your boys, but he had been getting out of bed lately also. We decided to get him some stories on CD so that he isn't reading a book, but can listen to the story. My Mom found Bible stories & songs together on a CD at Mardel. I am starting to think I might have to give up Liam's nap some days, but I think when it comes time for that, he will just have quiet time on his bed like Ginger (with a special little tub of quiet toys/books).
    I hope you find a routine that works for them soon, you need some rest!ReplyCancel

  • July 18, 2010 - 12:39 pm

    Drew and Emily - I have no advice since we are going through the same thing only times 1. You guys are in my prayers.ReplyCancel

  • July 18, 2010 - 3:32 pm

    Kelly - Helen – I think you may need to skip the naps a couple of days per week. (Totally stinks – I know.) Instead, start allowing them "quiet time" – usually an hour or so where they are allowed to chill out in a room and either read books, play quietly, or listen to music. The key is it has to be quiet. If you start this early enough, you will be able to do it later too. My son is seven and knows that each day we have quiet time and that he needs to hang out in his room, by himself, for an hour. It is amazing what an hour can do for him or me if it is a stressful day. HTH.ReplyCancel

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