02 October 2013

When Your Child Won't Sleep

when your toddler won't go to sleep
Toddlerhood: the best and most complicated times...

Things have been really hard here. There's been a greater parenting challenge going on; I just haven't known what to say. I've never wanted to only highlight my success stories as a mother on this blog. There are plenty of those out there and they often make the writers seem like liars which in turn causes the readers to feel like failures. What do these women writing about motherhood know that the rest of us don't? It's easy to write on glossy paper. It's easy to make it all seem shiny.

Sleep seems to have been our biggest issue here. That, and picky eating. It's easier to find amusing things to say about that, though.

It was just over 22 months before Tristan slept through the night. For the majority of the time he woke up 3-6 times a night then it was only 2-3. Then, like magic, he slept. We had some really good months and then he learned to crawl out of his crib.

BOOM...back to no sleep. It took a couple months for him to adjust then he learned to settle himself down by building pillow forts and that was just fine.

We share a bedroom with him because we live in the city and it's what we can afford. I don't know a lot of people in our situation so it makes brainstorming a little more difficult. There are a lot of people who choose to co-sleep (that means sharing the same room) or bedshare (that means sharing the same bed and is often confused with the former term)...but the child still has their own room hanging out somewhere else in the home.

What do you do if you don't have a back-up room?

One of the last times I wrote about sleep we were in pillow-fort-bliss. Then...he learned how to turn the doorknob. Now what? I had a few options with childproofing locks but they didn't work. He was able to snap off one within a minute of it being installed and the others all fit too snugly so they became a doorknob turning aid. Definitely not helpful!

We can't try a lot of suggestions because we rent. In our lease it says we aren't allowed to alter or install anything (and they mean it). But the most highly suggested idea has been to lock him in (after we install a lock, of course). Now I hear that it's the latest hot topic around the internet (in a bad way) in part because this guy was brave enough to share their story.

I can relate to this couple, though, other than 1. the child has their own room and 2. I assume they have monitors. Video monitors are expensive and until now we haven't had the need for them. We'd just take a few steps to the right and check in on him (or listen - I can hear everything from outside the room).

The night he turned the knob and raced out proudly I put up a high child gate that had just been given to us for the kitten; I had set up an area under the stairs for her litter box. She can get in and out but Tristan cannot. I quickly moved that to our door.

Now what? He opens the door and alternates between having a fit and sweet talking us. I am reminded of a ride I loved growing up at Disneyland. My brothers and I rode The Pirates of the Caribbean so many times and waited for the funny part where the pirates are in a jail cell and a puppy sits holding the keys just out of reach.

If we let him out he runs around and continues his night of playing until we go to bed...or more specifically I go to bed. He is always full of joy and quite content to stay up however long...

But he still isn't happy about going to bed. Once we're all tucked in he is awake for another hour and it isn't until he is asleep I can finally join him in dreamland. He wakes at the usual time, while in the meantime I've re-developed newborn anxiety. I'm slightly asleep, slightly awake waiting to snap awake like a ninja if needed. I get up once or twice before morning worried that something isn't right but it's fine. Once asleep he stays asleep if we're all asleep. If he wakes and we aren't in bed that's another story.

Follow that? I'm writing in an overtired haze...

So after two months of being a doorstop where do we go from here? How can we make either bed in our room seem alluring? He still needs his nap but I try not to let them go too late. I've been inching them earlier each day to see if that helps.

I'm truly stumped.


  1. i'm ABSOLUTELY no expert. and Lovie has her own room so i'm not sure that any of this will help but... Lovie never STTN till we made her CIO at 11 months. and even after that, she would still wake once or twice and cry, she just didn't go on and on about it. honestly, it wasn't until this current year (she'll be 4 end of Dec) that she truly STTN without waking. although now she does wake to pee and stuff. argh. anyway. we never had a problem putting her to sleep until right after her 2nd bday. that's when the screaming and fits really went to a new level and it's like we had to start from the beginning. so onward we went and we were very very VERY CONSISTENT with whatever we did. and just as we got settled, she started climbing out of her crib and that's when things really got fun (and my hair REALLY got white). as you know. I DREADED bedtime. I HATED it. I thought I was going to lose my mind. I was SO tired. all the time. it would take 2-3 hours EVERY SINGLE NIGHT before she'd finally give up and go to sleep. but every single night we did what we had to do to keep her in. we did NOT lock her in. I just couldn't do it. I tried a couple times to hold the door (no lock on the door and we rent like you) and I couldn't handle the screaming and crying. :( we begged. we pleaded. we bribed!! and we might get a night or two where bedtime only lasted 1-2 hours instead of 2-3 but then something would happen and bam, back to square one. it was MADDENING. most night we would follow our every day routine of tooth brushing, pj's, pullup, books, songs. then we' try to leave and she would just get up. so then we had to start sitting on the floor right by her door. we made very little (if any at all) eye contact. at first I tried the Supernanny tactic of putting her back in bed EACH time but honest to god I was too tired and couldn't do it. so I would sit in the doorway. with my back to her. she'd climb on me and try to get over. I wouldn't budge. she'd try to be sweet to me and give me hugs. I wouldn't budge. she'd run around crazy in her room. I wouldn't budge. finally she'd collapse on the floor and cry to me that she just wanted me. :( broke my heart every night. and every night we danced the same dance. when she collapsed and cried for me, I would scoop her up and tell her she had to go to sleep and she would setlle down. but again 2-3 hours after the start of it. the past 3 months (maybe longer, maybe not) have been MUCH BETTER. I really feel that she was trying to break us, to push us to our limits (and she almost succeeded!), but then realized it won't work. I guess? I dunno. Bedtimes are doable now. I actually don't collapse into bed right after she goes down anymore. For the first time in like a year. Life is kidn of normal again. SORRY FOR THE NOVELLA!! hang in there!

  2. I just read the article for the first time. their experience and mine sound IDENTICAL except Lovie wouldn't get out of bed once asleep. and, we never had to do the lock. but I certainly understand where they are coming from...

  3. THANK YOU - I appreciated every word of the novella. It made me feel less alone...I feel very isolated in my experiences right now. and helpless. We're trying to do our best, of course, but when it doesn't work and you're against the wall and out of ideas...

    So you were a doorstop, too. Because that is what I do, though I hold the door shut. He'd gotten to the point where he wouldn't try to open it until 30-45 min had past then he'd sneak over and try to beat me and open it. It's a 50/50 score. Either way he'd see me there and usual let out one howl and run back to bed. Lately he began sweet talking...so I'd say it's nighttime, I love you, go back to bed. Quick, little eye contact, sometimes none/no words...and close the door. Howl then silence.

    This is taking about 2 hours.

    I'd been hoping he'd just learn. I didn't want to lock him in and create a new battle. Maybe I'm at the edge of success and don't know it and just need to be a doorstop for a little longer. I want to be consistent - I know that's important. It's been close to two months, though. I'm beat and frustrated and tired.


  4. Oh, I forgot to mention that I'm currently prepping things to re-do his corner into a big boy corner. It's very babyish right now and I wonder sometimes if he has started to notice? :/

  5. honestly, I would keep on doing what you're doing. this went on for a LONG LONG time in our house. like I said, the article you posted was pretty much word for word my experience. have you tried being the doorstop with the door open, back to him/room? that's what got the best result. and head down. I would have to say the ABC's in my head to keep my calm (while i raged inside). it's SO SO SO HARD. some other things that have worked: i shut off the TV an hour before i would like her to be asleep; i only close the door if she gets up and out of the room for anything other than going potty (though man, those people in the article have it made--they put a potty in the room so they get to sleep in till whenever! though that wouldn't work for you b/c of being in the same room).

    i do think you're on the right track, i really do. but it's HARD. and exhausting. i think if you do anything different at this point, it would be to lock him in :(

    ::Huge hugs::

  6. that might help but i suspect he just wants the company. going to sleep all alone can be scary. remind him that you're right outside the room, that you'll check on him, but that he's a big boy and he's got to stay in bed. whatever you don't let him out of the room.

  7. Phew, I'm really glad I brought this up because last night I cracked and was like I'M GOING TO CHANGE THINGS! and let's just say the beginning of that plan wasn't going very well :/ I will probably keep the door closed since I work right in the dining room which he can see (just 15 feet away from the door) and keep saying the door needs to be closed like I have, that I'm always there. I have my head down and am either reading or fiddling with my phone - and nowwwww you know why my photo edits all happen at night and why I have time!!!!!!!!!! ;D ;)

  8. Hm this is just a comment test. There was an error, clicked comment luv to undo, clicked it back on, and now the error is gone but no selection of past entries to choose from...


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