Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Bedtime Rehab - Take Two

Time to correct some bad nighttime habits...again.

Remember when I wrote about bedtime rehab back in May?

Don't worry, I apparently didn't either. Because here it is, three months later, and I'm back at it. I'm done with the battle every night.

Actually, looking back, that bedtime rehab worked for what I wanted it to. Reagan finally transitioned into one long, quality nap. If she's down by 12:00 at the latest, she'll sleep until 2:30 or so. Most days she prefers a bit earlier, and I can usually make it work. Rather than trying to get her lunch before naptime, I just started making sure she ate a good breakfast and had a decent snack around 10:30. Then she'd have another decent snack when she woke up. Lunch? Who needs it?

Madison is still napping about half the time, but days she doesn't nap, she is perfectly happy to chill out in her bed with some books for an hour or so. Quality rest time.

Reagan was going to bed around 6:30, Madison around 7:00/7:30. No muss, no fuss. Yes, they were waking up early, even with room darkening shades, but not crazy early. 6:30ish. Which will actually work really well once all our fall activities start. I'm ok with this.

No one was overtired (well, on a regular basis). So I guess I can claim success.

At some point a few weeks ago, things started to change.

The big problem is Madison. The oppositional three year old is now messing with the one area where I had no complaints.

She's fighting bedtime, every step of the way. Every step of the way.

She refuses to clean up after dinner.

She refuses to go upstairs.

She refuses to take a bath.

She refuses to brush teeth.

She refuses to use the potty.

She refuses to put on pajamas.

During this time she is screaming her opposition so loudly, that there is no way her sister is falling asleep. If Reagan were already in a deep sleep...that's one thing. But you need to be darn exhausted to fall asleep during a scream fest happening three feet from your door - even with a white noise machine going.

We thought we were doing everything right to deal with these meltdowns. We give her warnings at 15 minutes, 10 minutes, and 5 minutes before starting routine. We keep the routine consistent. We give her choices - which pajamas, which toothpaste, which soap. We let her end with a story and snuggles to give her the incentive to do what she needs to do.

Nope. Not one smidge of difference. She screamed and fought every step of the process until she magically turned it off to climb into bed. We'd give her choices and she'd cry that she didn't want either. We ended up basically forcing her through the necessary steps, which wasn't exactly helping our case that this was a nice way to end the day. She wanted to be plopped into her bed, unbrushed, unwashed, and in her clothes.

So it wasn't the bed that was the issue. It was the routine leading up to it. That is what needed the rehab.

Sunday we started a new routine. Both girls do their entire bedtime routine together, aiming to be in their respective beds at 6:30.

Yes, this is early for Madison. But as she slowly cuts out her nap, I think she may need this for a bit. Plus, I firmly believe that she tantrums more when she's tired. An earlier evening routine means she will be less tired during it.

Not only do they bathe together, but they brush teeth together, use the potty together (no, we aren't training Reagan yet. But we're letting her sit on the little potty before putting on her nighttime diaper), get dressed together in Madison's room, read books together when we're done.

All clean-up takes place before dinner, so after dinner, while I clean the kitchen, both girls can spend some quality time with Adam before everyone goes upstairs together.

Reagan would go right into her bed, and Madison could do one additional story afterward, and then take books to her bed until 7:00. A little big girl treat.

We also added a chart, that Madison would be in charge of. I printed it out and laminated it, and Madison gets to check off each piece of the routine for both girls. She likes being in charge.

We talked about it last week, but wanted to be able to do it together for the first week or so. We figured we'd put little pieces in here or there, but start it once Adam was home from his trip this week.

After a massive tantrum on Saturday, we decided this rehab needed to start now.

We started Sunday. We'd had a really off day, with both girls out of their normal nap schedule and exhausted.

And it worked.

It worked yesterday too.

Today was going to be the clincher. Adam was gone, I was on my own, Madison had no nap.

It worked again.

It's crazy. There is no arguing. No refusing. So far the only issue is that Reagan wants to skip stories and go right to bed.

Again, not claiming victory yet. It could be working because it's an effective way to get them both to bed. It could be working because it's new and interesting. Time will tell.

But I'm no longer shutting Madison's door and banging my head against the wall at night. And I'm calling that a win.
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