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The Agony of the Night-time Routine . . .


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#1 diary~dad

Posted 04 March 2010 - 09:12 AM

Musical Beds
By Joseph Kelly

Putting kids to bed is one of those exercises that seems to get harder the more you practice it.  A lot like golf, only far less fun.

Our bedtime routine has turned into a bit of a farce lately.  Every night we go through the same charade of getting the girls bathed and dressed for bed.  I then read for Maisie and Frances while Susie settles baby Rita.  Susie and I then both attempt an exit strategy at about 7.30 which sees all girls safely and securely tucked into bed.  We then spend the next 12 hours, on and off, trying to convince the girls to stay in bed.

Maisie is the early offender, casually strolling out of bed at about 8.30 every night to find answers to such profound questions as whether animals breathe, why clocks are round and whether cheese must always be yellow.  In any given night we can field half a dozen of these questions right up to about 9.30pm.  Thankfully Maisie’s mind begins to slow its rapid whir about then and she can ease herself into sleep.

Then it’s Frances’s turn.  Some time between 10.00pm and 10.30pm Frances makes a break from her room, down the hall and into our bed.  We can usually hear all of this from the lounge room as it takes Frances several trips to transport her menagerie of stuffed toys, collection of house keys, shoes and other essentials from one end of the house to the other.  

The first time we climbed into bed to find Frances at home among our sheets, Susie and I felt pretty proud. Our little girl had obviously waited until she knew the coast was clear, and then, knowing that she was doing something she shouldn’t, made her way to our bed.  Our little girl was now a fully fledged rule breaker – it was a true Kodak moment.  

We’ve allowed Frances to continue her night time escapades only because we are able to successfully execute 'the transfer' by gently putting her into her own bed without her waking up.  But it would be foolish to think that’s the end of it.  If she wakes during the night Frances, in a state of minor outrage, makes her way back into our bed to finish her nights sleep by which stage we concede defeat.  Maisie, too, still drops in for the occasional a.m. visit.

Of course, it wasn’t always like this.  When Frances was a baby we thought we had it made.  Whereas Maisie was 18 months old before she slept straight through, Frances was always keen on her sleep.  From very early on she would spend all night soundly sleeping in her room, while Maisie was a big fan of the 2am wake-up call.  In one of the many perversions of the universe that only applies to parents, once we cured Maisie of her need to seek us out in the middle of the night, Frances started.  Touch-wood, Rita is to sleeping what Brendan Fevola is to controversy: a true natural champion.

I know that some baby raising text books favour military like regimes for putting babies to sleep with the threat that if these regimes are not strictly adhered to then you as parents have FAILED and will NEVER get a good night’s sleep again in your life. But surely these night-time shenanigans have to naturally stop at some point, don’t they?  Don’t they???

Should we let the games continue and allow Frances to press on with her stealth, or is a firm hand needed to prevent slumber disaster?


#2 SportySpice

Posted 04 March 2010 - 11:19 AM

What a lovely story Joseph and I can see it all happening!

I have a DD who is now 5 - and it does get better.  As I was a single mum from when she was 5 months of age until about 3.5yrs, we actaully co slept - because it worked for us - working, single mum, everyone needs there sleep and off we went.  

I then moved house in Feb 07 and with that came the change of her having her own special room.  Each night she was tucked in and promptly between 2 and 3am she would snuggle in with me - along with the said, bunny rabbit, bear etc etc.

For the first 2-3 weeks this continued on and off and as it was a new place etc I did let it go.  But each night we did talk about her staying in her own bed.

By about week 4, when she would enter, I would wake and try and "meet" her at the door, shuffle her around and back into her bed, where I would lay for about 5 mins, leave and go back to my bed.  Again this happened on and off, but now - she was always put back into her bed.... and within about 3 weeks - all good!  She now happyily is in her bed and stays put.  On the very odd occasion she now comes in with me and DH (her step-dad whom she just adores) and snuggles in with us both, and the odd night when a nightmare may take place, she'll come in, but I always lead her back to her room where she stays put.

So I guess with time it will happen, and it does get better!

Thanks for sharing your story!

#3 diary~dad

Posted 04 March 2010 - 11:35 AM

Thanks SportySpice - I will try to cut her off at the pass in future!!

#4 2boys2cute

Posted 04 March 2010 - 03:46 PM

While I have no advice or words of wisdom, I just wanted to say thank you so much for sharing your story, and helping me realise there are other parents out there playing the nightly game of musical beds!

I especially liked this

QUOTE
We can usually hear all of this from the lounge room as it takes Frances several trips to transport her menagerie of stuffed toys, collection of house keys, shoes and other essentials from one end of the house to the other.


sounds just like my 3 year old son!  My husband refers to it as DS building his "turkey's nest"  laughing2.gif

#5 Emmerage

Posted 05 March 2010 - 02:41 PM

I've always thought that letting the kids in the bed is a slippery slope - while some kids grow out of it, there are many in hysterics every night for ten years unless they sleep with their parents (I know an 8y.o who, after being banned by Dad from the parents bed, ended up with her Mum sharing her single bed each night with her. Not a solution, and she was totally dependent on her Mum to get to sleep). Not only is it a sure recipe for interrupted sleep, it takes away from intimate or private time between parents, and vital down-time for all the individuals involved.

I can see that it is different for only children, and single parents, though. Also special needs kids or those who've been through trauma. And I know there are cultural variants with extended families and communal sleeping areas etc. Generally, however, our rule will be a steadfast "no way in hell, ever, no matter what."

Who knows if it will work happy.gif

We were never allowed in our parents bed - it was simply not an option. Mum and Dad's room was a grown-ups haven, and it was always very clearly delineated that we weren't allowed in there.

I think the logic behind that was probably built up over time. I was the second youngest of 5 - so not only were my parents old-hands, but there was just not ever going to be room or time for all of us to join them. I suspect my older brother might have stayed in the bed quite a bit - and then there was jealously to deal with when baby number 2 turfed him out. After that, my parents were careful to make clear boundaries, and I never felt upset, insecure or worried about it. In fact, because the rule was so clear, I don't remember ever being in my parents bed, or wanting to be. I also remember that we almost always slept right through, every night.

I firmly believe that this is the best way of doing it: if the kids are out of the room as soon as they are out of the cot, then the line is drawn early and it is never an option.

We still had cuddles and naps together, but that was either in our rooms, or the lounge-room. It wasn't like we missed out, just that the parents had their own room, and we respected that.

It really helped that we all shared rooms until we were a bit older, as well, so we never felt scared or alone. I think my parents also emphasised that our beds were our spaces: we weren't allowed to take anything from one anothers beds (toys, clothes, quilts, pillows, anything), were encouraged to decorate them, choose our own bedding, and keep them neat and tidy. We also got to paint them ourselves, and choose where they would go in the room. Owning the space really built up an attachment to it, so I only really wanted my own bed, anyway. As far as advice goes, that's something I would suggest: get the girls involved in creating their sleeping space (whether it's painting or stickers or arranging their room, or choosing bedding etc) and they might be more inclined to stay there?

#6 goldimouse

Posted 05 March 2010 - 02:54 PM

I got in with my parents until I was quite old. I also shared a room with my older sister until I was 15 and slept in her bed very often, until she left home.

Put simply, I just didn't like sleeping by myself. I always wanted someone else to snuggle up to. It's still the same - I hate sleeping without DH, I just get bored and lonely laughing2.gif

I was the youngest of 4 and my parents always allowed us into their bed. I have extremely fond memories of tippy-toeing into their bedroom and very gently pulling the covers back on mum's side and sneaking in next to her. So warm, and comfy, and full of love original.gif

We don't co-sleep with DD, unless she's distressed and we can't settle her. She loves our bed, and I wouldn't want to take that experience of snuggling with her parents in their bed away from her. So if she chooses to creep in as she gets older, we'll let her and then hopefully we'll be able to eaither transfer her back to her own bed, or one of us will borrow hers for the night (my dad slept in my bed very frequently!)

I grew out of the need to jump in bed with someone else, even though I still prefer sleeping in bed with someone. I'm sure your kids will grow out of it too, and be assured that they LOVE being able to cuddle up to you in bed. It's a very special thing, I think.

I love bringing DD in to our bed and playing in there with her on Saturday/Sunday mornings when DH doesn't have to go to work. Some of my favourite times of the week biggrin.gif

#7 opethmum

Posted 05 March 2010 - 05:37 PM

It is cute now but wait for all three girls to pop in. As a child I can never went to sleep or crept into my parents bed, due to being no 4 of 5 kids.

One rule in my house was once in bed, stay in bed til the sun gets up.

It worked in my busy household growing up. I also agree with Emmerage's pp

Some tips if you are after them.
If your daughters are constantly asking questions to avoid sleep create a question rule 2 questions per night and do not answer any more of them, tell them to go to sleep. If they are constantly getting up and running out of bed to yours, simply get them out of your bed and say It is your bedtime and time to go to your bed and sleep and place them in the bed kiss them Good night and shut the door. If they do this again simply place them back in bed and close the door. A positive way to help them stay in bed is to instrument a sticker system, they get a sticker every night they are in bed and reward them for staying in bed.
If it is the old water con place a sipper cup beside their bed about 1/4 - 1/3 full of water ( age dependent, usually does not need to go to the toilet on that amount) and say water is beside their bed. Tell them they can join you when the sun is having its breakfast or something like that. Most of all be consistent in this. (Of course if they are sick and need comforting make the occasional exception)

I am not an advocate and nor am I going to raise a delightful co sleeper it kills the couple time and I am a tad greedy on my space enough as it is one luxury I am allowing myself and not compromising on. Also we have to prepare them for later life like sleepovers at friends/relatives , school/group camps and other events like holidays with extended family or friends. They have to learn to cope and sleep on their own from birth.

Good luck with the decision. original.gif

#8 gone gone gone

Posted 06 March 2010 - 02:40 PM

It's such a personal decision and it sounds like you're kind of enjoying the experience so I'd say just go with the flow. I had so many people warning me I was making a rod for my own back by letting my son sleep in the bed with me. But I loved having him there and so he slept in my arms every night until he was 3.  Then when I met someone and wanted to have them move in, he went into his own room. We made a huge deal about it, got him all new bedding and let him chose the way he wanted to decorate it and he loved it. Hewouldn't stop talking about his new room. He's 6 now and has slept in there happliy for 3 years. He still comes in for morning snuggles when he wakes up and will come to me if hes had a nightmare or wet the bed, but thats it. So thank god I didn't listen to all those people, I would have missed out on some very special bonding due to fearing something that didn't even happen.    


I believe in dealing with things as they come up, not fearing the future and trying to avoid imagined problems that may or may not happen. If you're happy and your wife is happy, there's no harm or need to be rigid about these things. original.gif

#9 nouseforaname

Posted 06 March 2010 - 02:54 PM

Sometimes five in our room, baby in cot, DS 1 & 2 in bed with DH & I.

DS 1 now that he's in school sleeps in his own bed, only coming into ours when hes woken, which is a rarity. DS 2 suffers from night terrors, so is usually in our room on a mattress on the floor or our bed although he has been known to sleep in his own bed all night, most nights a week.

Well I'm sure my three won't be sleeping in my bed when they're 20, so I'm not too worried at the moment.

If you do need a good night's sleep just go into the empty bed they leave. Problem solved.

#10 KirstenMc

Posted 07 March 2010 - 10:16 AM

I agree with jadeosaurusrex - do what works and feels right to you now. And when & if you feel you need to change things, you'll find a way to do that too. Don't be freaked out by the 'rod for your own back' people - every child is different & so is every family.

#11 Guest_Rainbow Bright_*

Posted 07 March 2010 - 11:08 AM

I choose to co sleep with my children original.gif it works for us, they like it ans so do their father and I.

TBH the children I know who were encouraged to co sleep as infants and toddlers are the most secure older sleepers. Whereas I know some older kids who still like to sneak in with their parents, the ones who previously co slept don't feel the need to.

#12 HurryUpAlready

Posted 12 March 2010 - 04:31 PM

I think you are mad. Surely, after 3 kids, you know that the longer you let this go on the harder the pattern is going to be to break?!  

You are setting yourself up for many years of sharing your bed with your kids. This interrupts your sleep, their sleep and YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR PARTNER.

Why on earth wouldn't you simply tell the girls "this is our bed and that is your bed" and enforce that rule. If the kids are sick and you need to sleep with them, then YOU sleep in THEIR room, not vice versa.  

Disaster my friend, you have created a disaster....and yes, it is you who has created this. Of course your kids will try it on and try to come into your room. You are the parent, the adult. It is your job to ensure that they stay in their own bed and get used to that routine.

Unless you LIKE your kids sleeping in your bed... which leads me to ask the question - WHY?

PS. My opinion of this is so strong as I know a family who were still sleeping with their son when he was 8, 9, 10 - and it started from letting him into their bed when he was little. What kind of life is that for a husband and wife?

I know another couple who are struggling in their relationship - the wife is happy to pander to their kid and let him sleep in their bed, whilst the husband would like to have a good night's sleep and perhaps have some intimate time with his wife on the odd occasion.  They are butting heads and headed down a very rocky path at the moment, by the sounds of it.

Is it worth it??

#13 duwat

Posted 13 March 2010 - 11:50 AM

QUOTE (SportySpice @ 04/03/2010, 12:19 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
What a lovely story Joseph and I can see it all happening!

I have a DD who is now 5 - and it does get better.  As I was a single mum from when she was 5 months of age until about 3.5yrs, we actaully co slept - because it worked for us - working, single mum, everyone needs there sleep and off we went.  

I then moved house in Feb 07 and with that came the change of her having her own special room.  Each night she was tucked in and promptly between 2 and 3am she would snuggle in with me - along with the said, bunny rabbit, bear etc etc.

For the first 2-3 weeks this continued on and off and as it was a new place etc I did let it go.  But each night we did talk about her staying in her own bed.

By about week 4, when she would enter, I would wake and try and "meet" her at the door, shuffle her around and back into her bed, where I would lay for about 5 mins, leave and go back to my bed.  Again this happened on and off, but now - she was always put back into her bed.... and within about 3 weeks - all good!  She now happyily is in her bed and stays put.  On the very odd occasion she now comes in with me and DH (her step-dad whom she just adores) and snuggles in with us both, and the odd night when a nightmare may take place, she'll come in, but I always lead her back to her room where she stays put.

So I guess with time it will happen, and it does get better!

Thanks for sharing your story!


This may sound like a stupid question but what is a DD??? I have seen this in a number of posts but failed to see what it would stand for - maybe Dear Daughter??  Also noticed DH!!! Where do these initialisms come from?

#14 gone gone gone

Posted 14 March 2010 - 02:58 PM

QUOTE (duwat @ 13/03/2010, 12:50 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
This may sound like a stupid question but what is a DD??? I have seen this in a number of posts but failed to see what it would stand for - maybe Dear Daughter??  Also noticed DH!!! Where do these initialisms come from?


Check in the newbies forum. Theres a post there with the initialisms.





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