14 Oct
Sooner or Later, We All Want To Sleep Alone

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

I’m a single mother of two. My son (4) is a party animal. He could stay up until 2 a.m. if I let him, whereas my daughter (2) has to be in bed by 8:30ish or little miss Crabby comes out.   The problem is that they both sleep with me.   This was something my ex-husband started and now I can’t/ don’t know how to break them of this habit.

Shy of drugging my oldest or knocking him out, how do I get him into his own bed?   They share a room together. I would like my bed back. I can no longer stand to be beaten by flying limbs and poked by toddler size 12 feet! I need a serious intervention!

Signed,

There’s Always an Elbow in My Face

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Dear There’s Always an Elbow,

In order to fix this problem, you must be committed because you may face some serious resistance from your toddlers. So stay strong, and any time you feel weak and want to just let them back into your bed, imagine coming home from a date with a new hottie boyfriend, leading him seductively up to your bedroom and finding your bed packed with sleeping, drooling children.   Say goodbye to that Action Jackson because Hottie boyfriend is going to find himself a girl with less baggage in bed.

So now are you committed to doing this? Okay, then let’s move on.   Set the same bedtime for both of your children since they are close in age and also share a room. (I would recommend 7:30 or 8 p.m.) Have a predictable bedtime routine that includes bath, books and songs. Start early enough so that you are tucking them in by 7:30 and that way all their attempts to procrastinate should be over by 8.

Let them know that if they sleep in their own beds, they can have a handful of M&M’s for breakfast. Yes, you heard me mama, M&M’s for breakfast. Parents have been using this chocolate treat for years as a way to potty train kids, so there’s no reason it can’t work as a reward for good bedtime behavior, too.   (You can also try some other incentive like a sticker chart, but my kids think stickers are the most overrated toy on the planet.)

Now obviously you won’t give them M&M’s forever (unless your dental insurance is way better than mine) but it will serve as an bribe incentive until they are in the bedtime groove.   Get them ready for this new routine by letting them pick out new sheets for their bedroom or maybe a stuffed animal or babydoll for their bed. And get a cool nightlight as well.

For the first few nights, you may need to lie down on a sleeping bag beside your 2 year-old in order for her to feel secure falling asleep, since I’m assuming she’s never slept alone. But eventually they’ll both get used to it (I promise or you can ship them over to my house).

During this process, do not cave and let them back into your bed or you will start all over again. Just remember the hottie boyfriend. In your bed. The two of you alone. This is your future.

Good luck to you and let us know how it goes!

Love,

Kelcey, TMH

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5 Responses to “Sooner or Later, We All Want To Sleep Alone”

10.14.09#1

Comment by Marinka.

I’m going to bed right now. My M&M’s better be here when I get back.

10.14.09#2

Comment by Wendi.

Great advice, Kelcey.

And don’t tell Marinka, but I ate her M&M’s when she was brushing her teeth.

10.14.09#3

Comment by Lisa.

It may help to separate bedtimes by about 30 minutes. Give one a chance to fall asleep while the other has quiet time in another room. You can alternate who goes to bed first or keep it consistent. A friend does this with the grandsons she’s raising and it makes bedtime smoother.

10.14.09#4

Comment by MommyTime.

I think Lisa’s idea is brilliant, particularly because if they are both currently sleeping in your bed, and you are (presumably) not going to bed at 8:30, then your daughter is already used to falling asleep in a bed on her own. In my experience: they may wake up in the middle of the night and sneak back into your bed. It’s normal for people to come out of a deep sleep cycle, wake for a moment, and drift off again. If they are used to being next to you, they may seek you out again in those moments. Be firm (and pretty nearly silent), and just turn them around and lead them back to their bed, and the midnight interruptions are likely to stop pretty quickly.

10.14.09#5

Comment by bookthingys.

The trick I used to get my (now 6 year old) daughter to sleep in her big girl bed was to go through the routine (bath, books, prayers, songs, etc.) then turn out the lights. The nightlight was on in the room, and I would go to the door and tell her I’d check on her in one minute. In the beginning I just stood outside the door – this is also how you’ll know who’s talking. Then I checked on her in a minute and would leave saying, I’ll check on you in 2 minutes. Repeat, then 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, etc.

At first you have to be on top of the checking back in, but once they understand you’re coming back, they will eventually fall asleep. Oh yeah – and when you come back to check on them – there’s no talking. You can give a kiss on the forehead, but it’s lights out/quiet time.

Good luck!

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