Wednesday, June 24, 2009

You Wouldn't Believe It!

Emily Rose awoke at 7 a.m. this morning, after having fallen asleep around 9:00 p.m., which gave her about an hour less nighttime sleep than she probably needs at this point. She used to get 12 hours of nighttime sleep, up to a month ago. Anyhow, this morning I added five hours to the 7 a.m., and figured she would be ready for her nap around 12:00 p.m. By the time I finished the routine it was 12:15, and I suspect she was asleep by 12:30 p.m.

She awoke at 2:00 p.m., and I added five hours to that, figuring she would be tired around 7 p.m. She is very active, gets lots of daily exercise, and has recently not had enough sleep; I think the five hours was a reasonable estimate. Her bedtime routine ended later than I'd hoped, at around 7:30 p.m. I shut her door as usual and went about putting Anna Grace down in my bedroom.

Meanwhile, Don was in the playroom doing Bible Study and story time with the boys. Emily got out of her crib about three times and went into the playroom, where Don intercepted her and put her back. I thought she had fallen asleep, since I didn't hear any of this.

Around 8:50 p.m., I finally got Anna to sleep and went out into the hall, where I heard Rose getting out of her crib. I went in there and found large and small stains of Desitin in various spots on the carpet, all over the crib, all over a few books, all over her face, and on a few stuffed toys. As well, she was naked from the waist down, and had peed all over her crib sheets, and on her pillow.

What I did NOT do was take this all in stride. After all, we'd been through a few frustrating weeks of sleep battles, with a child who had previously been a fantastic sleeper! I looked up to the heavens and screamed in anger and frustration. The Desitin, I knew, would ruin the carpet, but what was more frustrating was why her body hadn't shut down for sleep, after having been in the room close to 90 minutes, following a loving and soothing bedtime routine. She had been awake since 2 p.m.! What in the world is going on with her body?!!

We hadn't wanted to get into a spanking pattern over this situation, since that might require multiple spankings--for consistency sake. We can't spank the first time she does it and not the rest of the times; that would create more problems than it would solve. We both hate the thought of a child's day ending in multiple spankings. However, we did spank her for the Desitin mess.

I know the arising of sudden sleep issues is a very common problem with two-year-olds. That doesn't make it any easier to deal with. I'm at a loss right now, and wondering why tiredness isn't just taking over. Is she too hyperactive to stay still long enough to fall asleep as usual? Is she falling asleep around 9:00 p.m. because that is when it is close to being dark? And if so, why won't her body sleep until about 8:oo a.m. or so? Don has gone in there and laid on the room's queen bed in the morning, trying to get her to sleep longer after she initially comes out. It doesn't work.

I researched my Desitin stain-removal options, and tried rubbing alcohol, followed by Shout stain remover, followed by Dawn dish detergent. It looks better, but the carpet stains are not gone.

I also researched staying-in-bed issues for two-year-olds, and wasn't satisfied with any of the suggestions. She is too young for a sticker chart, or for waiting for a morning reward. We've already tried the broken record, keep-putting-them-back-in-bed routine, which would probably be close to the standard suggestion from most sleep experts.

We've thought of making her bedtime the same as the boys, so the whole house settles at the same time, and she doesn't feel like she is missing anything. This complicates story time, and if we choose this route, we'll have to make sure the boys have another story time during the day, using higher-level books.

Toddlers need 12 to 14 hours of sleep per day, and school-age children need 10 to 11. Ideally, at our house we need Emily to be falling asleep at 8:00 pm, waking in the morning between 7 and 8, and napping for two hours between 12:00 and 2:00 p.m. And the ideal scenario for the boys is falling asleep at 8:30 p.m., and waking around 7:oo--which is what they usually do.

We will pray tonight about trying a week of spanking, and we should also convert her crib to a toddler bed, to avoid any broken bones from her climbing out. Why not go through the dreaded bed-change transition while we're at it? My mom recently told me that my three-year-old nephew broke his arm from climbing over a safety gate. I sure don't need an emergency room visit!

Generally, I don't think buying new bedding helps with this issue, but I might price some Dora sheets/comforter for toddler beds, just in case.

Please, leave me a comment about how you lived through this same thing, and now have a peaceful household at bedtime, and a well-rested toddler/preschooler! Emily is 30 months old, which I think makes her a preschooler now. Thank you!


Steph said...

Oh, I have felt this pain!

What I learned with my firstborn is that even the most "textbook" baby will eventually change his sleep routine. This probably isn't helpful, but I found I had to divorce my "need" for him to sleep at certain times from what actually worked for him - and it was a hard thing for me to figure out. Boychild gave up his naps at an early age - 2 1/2. We found that there was a subtle shift from the "sleep begets sleep" phase of baby/toddlerhood into the plain old "too much daytime sleep" phase. We had a terrible time with him getting out of bed multiple times at bedtime until we dramatically cut back his naps. It was HARD and it seemed completely contrary to what the "experts" say, but every kid is different, right? With shorter or no naps, Boychild went to bed earlier and slept to a decent time in the morning (I think it was around 7 - I can't remember). It may not add up to a full 12 to 14 hours, but I think a solid overnight sleep beats a daytime nap and an interrupted and/or shorter night-time sleep - at least it did for him (the cranky tired phase was tricky in the late afternoon for a while).

I could be WAY off on this. As I said, every kid is different and it's just what worked for Boychild. It also made it easier for me to see this transition in Girlchild, too, who started napping less at around 3 and doesn't nap at all at 3 1/2.

Good luck - hope you get something figured out! (I know it must be much harder, too, when you have more kids and really need that naptime respite!)

Andrew & Terri said...

I think pp is right that she may not need quite as much nighttime sleep anymore...that's certainly the case with my 2.5 year old. But....

Reading these posts, I've wanted to suggest switching to a toddler bed (so she doesn't get hurt), and spanking (so that she'll stay in). Now that you've brought up both, I guess I'll just speak my mind. :-P I think the combination of the two might be the ticket. That way, you're not suddenly spanking her for something she's been doing spank-free for weeks, which might be confusing. If you switch her bed to toddler, and calmly tell her that she needs to stay in bed or she's going to get a spanking...then follow through. I reallllly doubt it would take a week. We told Gabe this when we switched his bed and he never got out, but he wasn't a crib-climber, either. He's sitting in his bed right now reading books since he wakes up at 6:30 and I don't allow him out of bed until 7:00. I go and give him books in the morning pretty much every day, then have more time to myself. Staying in bed does *not* mean he falls asleep right away, but it does mean peace in the house from 8:30 on. I wish you as much of that as possible right now!


Liz said...

Hi Pam... reading this post reminds me so much of my daughter at the same age! Every time I prayed about her sleep issues and staying in bed I felt drawn back to the same book. "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" by Dr. Marc Weissbluth. It was only when we followed the advice in the book exactly that we got results.

When Grace was climbing out of her crib we tried everything, including spanking with no results. After weeks of this, and much prayer, and trying the toddler bed, we went back to the crib and followed the instructions in the book, "the silent return to bed". When we put her to bed we told her that if she got up we were not going to talk to her and not going to look at her, but we were going to put her back in bed. We had tried this before, but always given up because it wasn't working. Well this one particular night we put her back to bed 87 times without speaking to her or talking to her. (We kept track with tic marks on a piece of paper.) That was what it took -- she fell asleep standing up and never got out of bed again. Seriously, never again. Now, although the 87 times sounds unbelievable, I think it's just an illustration of how strong her will is. Also, it was over with in less than an hour. When we changed to the toddler bed a few months later she would call out in the morning "all done sleeping" and wait for us to come in and say good morning and tell her it was okay to get up.

Over the years, I have worried much about her sleep and have felt strongly that she often needs a bit more than she's getting, but it's not something I can make happen. I've let this go. I can only provide the structure and opportunity for good, quality sleep. I can, however, make her stay in her bed! :-)

I hope your new tactics work for you. See if your local library has this book -- you might just find some helpful tips!

I'm still working on coating it all in joy!!

Liz said...

Oh, I forgot to tell you that we did post "Sleep Rules" in her bedroom. I cannot remember exactly what they were, but it was something to the effect of #1 Be quiet, #2 Stay in bed, #3 Go to sleep. Of course she couldn't read and a sticker chart wouldn't have interested her for more than 2 minutes, but we would walk over to the rules at naptime and bedtime and she could tell you exactly what the rules were and she seemed so proud when she was successful at adhering to them!