Tuesday, September 14, 2010

looking for suggestions!!

Serious sleep issues, and I need some help. At two this morning Clark was standing beside my bed saying "downstairs! downstairs!" and this did not work for me. In the end I was only up with him for about 40 minutes, but the night before it was an hour and a half. I'm starting to feel like when he was an infant and I was sleep deprived for legitimate reasons.

Here's what we've got:

First, he sleeps with his light on full, which is a problem because when he wakes up he doesn't know if it's morning and insists that he's ready to get up and go downstairs. I've thought about just taking the bulb out, telling him it's broken, and putting in a small night light. That means we'll have to read books at night somewhere other than in the armchair in his room, but that's okay. Another option is to put in a clock and tell him he can't get up until the first number is a six or seven or whatever, but honestly I don't think he's going to go for that at all. He'll just get up anyway. Or we could try both.

The next issue is that he wants us to stay in the room until he falls asleep. He doesn't do this at nap, by the way. He asks sometimes at nap and I tell him "no, at nap we don't do that," and he accepts it. So we're going to have to have a talk about how mom and dad are not going to stay in the room anymore. I could deal with letting him cry it out (and I think it would only take a day of this....) but he won't just cry it out; he'll climb out of the crib. This all started with his climbing out in the first place: we tried the supernanny thing of putting him back, putting him back, not speaking to him and just putting him back, but he just became more and more hysterical and worked himself up into what seemed an unnecessary panic. When that would happen and I would stop and just put my arms around him, he'd quiet immediately. We figured it was just a stage, some kind of anxiety that would pass, so we started to stay in the room. It isn't so bad to sit with him when we put him to bed, especially as we've taken to watching netflix on our iphones with headphones while we wait, but the problem is that he expects it again when he wakes in the night.


Okay. So when he wakes at night and screams, I tell him it's the middle of the night and everyone is sleeping and he needs to sleep too. He shrieks. If I say I'm going back to bed he shrieks and then climbs out of his bed. Here are the options as I see them:

1) Get a crib tent. Zip him in. Ignore the possible hazard were there a fire. Make him feel powerless but dominated. Get some sleep.

2) Get a new toddler bed he loves, a fire truck or pirate boat or something, and tell him he can only have it if he stays in it. In order to enforce that, however, I'd also have to get a crib tent so I can move him to the crib if he won't stay in the bed.

3) Leave the crib the way it is but put latches on the door so he can't get out of the room. This will probably mean he will cry until he passes out on the floor. Again with the powerlessness.

4) Is he old enough (2 1/2) for a sticker chart? I don't know... I don't think he'll get the idea of accumulating stickers toward a goal. But maybe there's something I can bribe him with immediately? I don't know what. He doesn't sleep with any stuffed animals, nothing I can take away if he won't comply...

5) Dose him heavily with narcotics every night before bed. Kidding. Sort of.

6) Gear myself up and do the supernanny sleep training for a couple of nights: simply put him back in bed every time he gets out. The problem with this is that I have to stay nearby to put him back in, and that's just what he wants. He doesn't mind being in the bed as long as I'm there too.

7) Take him into the bed with me in the guest room. (you note the absence of the option to put him in bed with us... both of us are light sleepers and it simply would not work.) I fear this would mean I would forever sleep in the guest room, which just creates another problem rather than solving this one.

8) Is there something I can get for his room that would make him more comfortable, less needy? Suggestions????

He used to be a great sleeper. He used to just wave to us from his bed as we said goodnight. He would wake up and sometimes call out in the night, but then go right back to sleep. All by himself. And I don't feel this is any longer about anxiety and separation and fear; now it seems to be about control, the way he is trying to assert control over his world. Maybe one solution, or part of the solution, is to help him feel in control in other ways, give him choices or let him make other decisions. Thoughts about that?

So, please, if you have any suggestions at all, please please offer them. Helpful or unhelpful, tried or absurd, I'll take em.

By the way, I'm writing this while both kids are at preschool! All on my own here in the world, for a little while. Maybe this space will mean I can keep up with the blog better. That would be nice.


Jennifer Creech said...

Hi Cali - we have had trouble on again/off again with our kids not wanting to sleep alone. I would recommend sleeping in the guest bed with him. This WILL NOT last forever - eventually he will be fine sleeping through the night on his own. We stopped laying down to sleep with ours but told them we would sleep with them through the night when it was time for us to come to bed as long as they promised to sleep the entire time (no getting up to play/talk/etc.) That has worked well for all of them. We do a lot of sleep rearranging: our two oldest take turns each night sleeping in a twin in the same room as our youngest in the crib; we have a toddler air mattress that can be moved from room to room, etc. Our oldest (now 5) can sleep anywhere as a result (nice) and has no trouble sleeping alone in a room with a night light now. Our middle child (3) prefers not to sleep alone in a room (understandable - I also don't like to sleep alone). Our youngest is currently fine in the crib if we put him down asleep after rocking.

Hope that helps!

Cynthia said...

I've been through a phase or two of this with Will, and considered the tent and the latch on the door and the narcotics (kidding, probably). One suggestion I got at MOPS was to put a timer on his lamp, so that it will come on when it's morning. Then you tell the kid that you has to stay in bed until his lamp comes on. I never tried this, but a bunch of moms said it worked wonders.
I did buy and read this book: http://www.amazon.com/No-Cry-Sleep-Solution-Toddlers-Preschoolers/dp/0071444912/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1284480069&sr=1-1 and tried some of the methods in here, which seemed to work. My son is now staying in bed. Sometimes he doesn't go right to sleep, but right now he is at least staying in bed.
Good luck!

Cali said...

the toddler air mattress is an interesting idea. at one point a couple of weeks ago i put some quilts on the floor by my bed for him but he couldn't sleep on them, was too wired about lying down someplace new or something. one night he did pass out there from sheer exhaustion... but if i put an actual bed right there, i bet he'd like that. for that to work we should probably put our bed on the floor... got to give it some thought.

Cali said...

i actually bought a timer to try with the light, but he's not interested in listening to me about staying in bed until it comes on. those words go right past him. . .

andrea said...

I like the new bed idea.

One thing I am beginning (adopted from a friend) as a positive reenforcement tool is it to give tickets(star wars) to my boys for doing the things they are responsible for. When they earn 8 tickets they get to choose to do something... movie, sleepover, going out to dinner etc.

I wonder if you made fireman, train, or whatever tickets and gave Clark a ticket for each time he did not get out of bed... four tickets= doing something he loves: ice cream, a special park, game etc... not sure it will work but...

being sleepless effects everything.
I know this will pass but it sure sucks while you are in it!

Amy said...

Maybe try the door knob cover for a few nights. I did it on Kami's door when she first learned to open it on her own and she was in our room in the middle of the night...it worked great.I am all about making this as simple on yourself as possible.

Amy R said...

How about a timer that shuts off around 11pm or so (or at least at a time that he's usually in a deep sleep after you put him down)? It's light for him when he's awake and falling asleep, but dark for the rest of the night and then dark until it's naturally light outside.

We did the crib tent for both of our girls. With Sarah, we made it into a big game...she was in a "camping tent" and she could have as many animals in there as she wanted. She LOVED the "camping" aspect. Megan just sort of went along with it, but didn't get too into the play part of it.

We also tried sticker charts with Megan at 2 1/2 and 3 and found they were ineffective at that age. Some kids are different and really get into them, but she really didn't care. At all. It was only when she was 3 1/2 that she started getting into the concept.

Another thought..if he's climbing out of the crib and you don't want to do the crib tent, it might just be time for him to have a bed of his own. Maybe the ability to get in and out of bed himself (if you used a latch of some sort on the door) would give him the decision making power he wants. We put Sarah in a big bed (not a toddler bed or mattress on the ground) at 2 1/2 (mainly because Megan needed to stop sleeping in the pack n'play) and she's never fallen out.

WendyKrug said...

Oh how I feel your pain! I haven't slept in my bed for 4 nights now between the two of them. We sleep with them when they seem to need it and usually it is a phase that passes in a week or so. If you're in the market for a new bed anyway, the car beds our kids have are easily found on craigslist. They can get in and out of them but can't fall out because of the higher sides. Love them. Good luck!

Paige said...

Cali, when we moved over the summer, we moved Ozzy out of our bed and our room and into his own bed/room! (And Marley too!) We put a crib mattress on the floor in our room for him to sleep on if he wants to come into our room in the middle of the night (which happens about twice a week). But I def don't think that would've worked at age 2.5. I think since it is a contest of wills, you're just going to have to convince him that in this particular situation, he actually is the powerless one and has to do what the powerful people want him to do. Which I think means somehow making it impossible for him to get out of his room (one of those doors that you can close the bottom half but not the top? An extra-tall gate (I think One Step Ahead makes these)?). Just closing his door and locking it somehow seems so cruel, but that is exactly what I was forced to do when I came home from that trip to your house when Ozzy was almost 2 and he wouldn't stay in bed or go to sleep by himself (and had never slept in a crib). I still feel SO TERRIBLE about having had to do it, but seriously, I didn't know what else to do. At that point, I couldn't lay with him - he would just start hitting me, pulling my hair, talking playing laughing, etc.

But mainly just take some deep breaths and remember that This Too Will Pass - eventually...

Anonymous said...

OMG. Makes me so glad for picking a sleeping philosophy and sticking with it. Parenting doesn't have to mean giving up your life, your boundaries, and routines.

My suggestion? Toddler bed--not a fancy bribe, just a bed. In his room. (It's where one sleeps.) Put him back. And back. And back. And back. Period.

It'll take awhile because he's learned that he can avoid doing things if he screams--and he can especially avoid doing things if he dissovles into a puddle of emotion and panic.

I just don't see it as subjecting him to some awful powerlessness. Kids need to know that a trusted adult will make decisions, provide structure, be in control, and can be relied on to do just that.

Joy said...

I hate it for you guys, Cali! I feel for you. It's so hard when the sleep deprived nights add up. I remember the fog of when Townes was a baby. Don't really have any solid suggestions since I've not experienced a tweeking two-yr old yet (sounds like I have a lot to look forward to, though). Townes sleeps pretty well for now (knock on wood). I know this may change but so far, so good my husband and I have pushed through letting him "cry it out" even through a most recent case of head banging on the wall. We used the book "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" which can be consider a somewhat nazi-approach. I'm all for giving him a sense of control and independence in many areas of his life. Sleep, however, so affects my mood and my mothering that although it feels so cruel and cold to let him freak out, I've found it's something I have to do for myself. Maybe with a toddler bed, it wouldn't be as powerless a situation if he could crawl back up into his bed after finding himself passed out on the floor (sounds like my college experience). I'll probably be begging you for suggestions in another 6 mos. when my little monster decides he'll mix things up at bedtime.

Anonymous said...

Hey Cali, I found this toddler clock at One Step Ahead (on line) it has 2 pictures that light up at the right time, when it is night time the picture shows a bunny (boy version) asleep. When it is time to get up the bunny is awake. Antonia was getting out of bed WAAAY early but this clock keeps her in bed until the cow (girl version) wakes up. It has worked wonders with making wake up time more humane!
Also, I ended up buying a single futon mattress that I called the mama bed and put that in her room and would fall asleep on that with Antonia in the crib. When she was asleep I would move to my own bed or if she was asleep before me just tip toe out and go about my evening. If she woke at night, I would just go a lie down on it and hold her hand until she fell asleep. Sometimes I fell asleep there and sometimes I would go back to bed, Nick was gone on a 2 month research cruise and that was the ONLY thing that worked for both of us to get the sleep we needed. I figure that this futon will be her big bed when she is out of the toddler bed...
Other friends have used a gate on the door so the child could not get out of his/her room and put a mattress on the floor for a crash pad so they could fall asleep somewhere comfy when they did finally fall asleep.
Hope that helps,