We are in the midst of war in this house. The battles occur daily, sometimes twice. The mood is tense and we are all battle weary. It’s a war of wills and I fear the 2 year old is winning. The kid just won’t go to sleep.
M has never been the best of sleepers; ever since she was a baby she wakes at the slightest noise, has never taken naps of a typical length (2 hours has always been very rare for her), and until nearly 2 years old woke up at least once a night. We’ve had some nice long stretches of sleep peace but right now we are in the middle of a perfect storm of awful.
Part of the problem is back in early December at 26 months old she started trying to climb out of her crib. She never made it all the way to the ground but we witnessed her scampering up to the top of the rail and flipping herself over the top. At the same time friends of ours were getting rid of a toddler bed and we jumped on it. M seemed to love the new bed and took to it very well. But there is nothing to keep her in the bed and while before we would go through the nap or bedtime routine, plunk her in her crib and let her play (or scream) until she fell asleep now she can get out of bed. And she does – every single time.
Add to that a little girl who is refusing to nap occasionally and the first of what I’m sure will be many battle of wills has come to a head. Daycare has reported on occasion that she did not sleep but at least rested on her cot. She is not even 2 1/2 yet and I am not at all ready for her to give up a nap. On Monday while I was home for MLK day was the first time she refused to nap at home. It took me 1 1/2 hours for her to agree to sleep. My usual routine is to read books, rock for a few minutes then put her in bed and leave. I don’t care if she plays for a bit as normally she settles down and falls asleep within about 15 minutes. On Monday after 15 minutes I went in, told her it was time to sleep, got her in bed, kissed her and left. 20 minutes later she is still playing. I go in and find her totally naked and playing with her blocks. I get her dressed, go through the routine again and talk to her about staying in her bed – she curls up and closes her eyes and I leave. After awhile I hear her playing and I go in and she has emptied all her dresser drawers all over her room! I take her to my room and try to get her to nap with me. She starts jumping on the bed. It kept going on like this for 90 minutes when I finally had to sit down next to her bed (where she was laying with her head a the foot) and basically hold her in bed until she fell asleep. She slept for just 45 minutes. Today was the same thing except she NEVER went to sleep. I tell you she was a joy this evening.
Mark has almost always handled bedtime and it’s not much better for him. Unless he rocks her until she is fast asleep she will jump up as soon as he leaves the room and run to open the door. Now that she knows how to work door handles were are in trouble. If she gets out of her room she tears through the 2nd floor like a squirrel on crack. If we hold the door shut she stands inside shrieking (sometimes she pokes her little hand under the door which is heartbreaking). Mark does the same thing I do at naps – goes back in after about 10 minutes, settles her in bed and leaves and then the process repeats. There are nights when the bedtime battle lasts 45 minutes.
I am sincerely hoping this is a phase that ends quickly because it’s killing the vibe in our house. Both Mark and I get tense around nap and bedtimes and on the days M skips her nap she is cranky by about 5:00. Traditional discipline like time outs do not work with her and neither do bribes. She understands what she needs to do – she’ll tell you she needs to stay in bed but then will refuse to do it. Any advice out there for us? We are at the point of using “any means necessary”!