Thursday, January 5, 2012

Once Upon A Time...

Up until very recently, just this week in fact, my three year old has been a nightmare at bedtime! As soon as we mentioned it was time to get our pyjamas on she would take off running. You would literally have to corner her and scoop her up. Getting them on was next to impossible too. She would wiggle and squirm the whole time. When it came to brushing her teeth she was no better. She would flick her tooth brush spraying toothpaste all over the mirror, brush the sink and faucet, or just stare at her reflection and make funny faces. You had to keep her on task the whole time. It was a huge test of patience; and I'm a very impatient person. You knew she was just trying to stall and wind you up in the process. She is extremely good at winding me up. She knows all the buttons to push and when. While I'm waiting I wonder if there is a boarding school for preschoolers? Hopefully overseas? I doubt I'd be that lucky.

Once we're finally upstairs, oh wait, I forgot to mention, we do our teeth and dress downstairs. Why? She puts up such a loud fuss that I'm afraid she'll wake up her sister. She just turned sixteen months and spares me this ordeal every night and is a fantastic sleeper for the most part. She has not yet learned the entertainment value in torturing me. Once we finally get upstairs we pick out two books and have the smallest drink of water I can get away with giving her. I'd like to say we snuggle up together and read a sweet little book. A darling little picture of the joys of parenthood, but that would be a lie. Usually she's jumping on the bed, throwing her bear in the air or trying to have a conversation with her goldfish across the room. After repeated threats that I'll stop reading, she finally settles down enough that we can finish the books. (I skip a lot of pages on the way) I tuck her in, give her a kiss and a hug, tell her I love her, and head towards the door. "Mommy, can I tell you a question??"  Le sigh. "Um, can I play with the iPad?", "I'm hungry", "I'm not tired", "Can you sleep with me?" After trying to evade this barrage of questions I eventually just have to say good night and close the door before she has a chance to say anything else. After that it's about an hour of hauling her butt back to bed. Not fun. There goes my whole night, thanks a lot you pain darling little angel.

As I said, this week has been soooo much better! Why? I think it's because of a couple of things. I've been making an effort to spend a lot more one on one time with her during the day. Usually her sister is involved with everything we do, but there is naturally a certain amount of jealousy in the house right now. I think the personal time with just the two of us is really helping. I know she's much more manageable during the day now too. Secondly, we don't try to rush bedtime at all. We *may* have been slightly guilty of this in the past. After a long day my husband and I just want some us time. Of course, she just wants some Mommy and Daddy time alone, which she rarely gets. It's really not fair of us to rush her through it, so we don't do that now. One of the things I think is working really well is how we changed story time.

The bedtime book is still a staple, but we've added two new elements. I tell her a story about her and then she tells me a story. Nothing fancy. We're not writing the next Harry Potter or anything. Just anything that comes to mind. I usually ask her where she wants to go in the story and what she wants to do. Then just sort of wing it. Usually she wants to go to the park or the farm with all her friends from school, often Mommy, Daddy and her sister are there too. When I'm finished it's her turn. Her stories are so cute and really imaginative! They often start off with her sister and her going somewhere, meeting friends, playing, coming home for a snack, finding dragons (but friendly ones that like to give hugs) and of course eating ice cream. This whole story telling time is great! She's using her imagination, being empowered to create her own story, and she's having some quiet time with me. No jumping up and down, no bartering for this and that, just a nice unwinding end to the day. After she says The End, I tell her thanks for sharing that great story, give her a big hug and kiss and say good night. "I love you Mommy, good night." Then she stays in bed and doesn't get up once!

The End.


  1. This is so awesome! We've been having a bedtime problems recently as well. She used to just go to be fine and then the last few months bedtime has dragged on for hours..."mommy sit", "mommy story", mommy, water!"...and so on...But, since focusing on her as much as I can during the day and saying yes as much as I can (when she asks me to read to her dolls or wants to show me something, doing activities that engage us both) she has been going to sleep no problem! It's amazing. I'm so glad you've seen the same changes! I love the idea of having her tell you a story. When L. is a little older I think that will become part of our routine as well!

  2. Yes we're very much relieved that we've found a solution that's working for everybody. What's even better is it's fostering good habits for her AND us. We should be spending more quality time with her. One day she'll be too cool for us after all!

  3. I've had similar success with Brandon with stories at bedtime, but now he's in a phase where he doesn't want to go to bed AND he doesn't want to hear the stories. :-/

    1. Perhaps he needs a night cap? A shot of whisky perhaps??


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