At the end of last year I was feeling a little bit smug about how well my children were sleeping (daughter nearly 4 and son 20 months). They were both settling relatively easily and sleeping through the night. However, it’s getting towards the end of January and the sleep of my eldest is still not back to where it was before Christmas and sleeping has become a bit of a battle, hence time again for a reward system.
It was only in June of last year that we decided that Charley had been sleeping in our bed at night for too long and needed to be able settle herself in her own bed. What I thought was going to be weeks of battles and sleep deprivation turned out to be a couple of nights of just putting her back into bed with little protest. Certainly not what I had expected.
However, little routine over Christmas and a week away has yet again disturbed her sleeping pattern. While we were away we got into the habit of sitting with her until she had gone to sleep and then let her get into our bed in the middle of the night. This didn’t make for peaceful, relaxing evenings while we were away and the thought of going away for a week or a night in the future is not so appealing when Charley needs so much coaxing to stay in her own bed.
Whilst I do love having Charley in our bed, as I know she is safe and warm, she is also a bit of a fidget, takes up most of the bed, and I’m often unable to sleep as I’m anticipating her waking her up and coming in. It also must be affecting her sleep, as although she goes to sleep once she gets in our bed, she’s still having a disturbed night.
With the cold weather the other week the thought of sitting in Charleys room while she dropped off again in the night wasn’t very appealing and a good excuse to leave it for a few more days. Yesterday though I’d decided that we had to try and get her sleeping back on track.
I’ve tried rewards before for her to stay in bed. Last time it was a small present from Poundland each time she stayed in her bed all night. This worked really well but she’s not so bothered by this now. Therefore, when I saw someone trying a reward jar in a blog the other day I thought this sounded like a fab idea. Not only would I use it for Charley staying in her bed all night but for any good behaviour such as sharing with Bodhi, being kind, going to the toilet by herself, taking her shoes off etc. Anything like that and when the jar is full she can choose a toy to have.
The jar worked well in the day and she was very excited to put stones in (also a help with her counting) when she had done something good. However, come night time and I was battling with her to stay in her bed this was the last thing she was interested in.
I’d spoken to Charley a number of times in the day about her staying in bed for the night. She understood that if she did she could have 10 stones to put in the jar and she seemed fine with this. However, come bedtime I’d sat in her room for 10 minutes then got up to kiss and cuddle her goodnight and left the room. Once I got downstairs she was up straight away and so started an hour of putting her back in her bed. At first I was trying to cuddle her and reason with her that it was bedtime and time for sleep but she got herself in a bit of frenzy and at one point was clinging onto my ankle. I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry! I felt like I was on one the nanny tv programmes, trying to remain calm whilst Charley was screaming blue murder and keeping her poor brother awake.
Finally after about an hour, I picked her up kicking and flailing, putting her on her bed and then stood by the door, arms folded. She stood by the bed arms folded. Knowing how stubborn Charley could be I thought I might be there all night but she was obviously exhausted and it didn’t take long for her to get in to her bed, arms folded.
I turned my back in the doorway at which point Charley started saying “Mummy cuddle” over and over which made me feel terrible as I didn’t because I thought if I gave her a cuddle she’d just want more so I just stood there, told her to be quiet and go to sleep and she finally did!
She was still asleep by 8.30pm so not too late but its pretty draining so I’d decided that we’ll just work on her settling down to sleep first and then work on the getting up in the night later. I’m not sure if this is the best way to do, I’ll see how the settling goes tonight. Ideally, I’d like to be able to get to the stage where we’ve had stories and then I give her kisses and cuddles and I leave the room with no getting up from Charley.
Do your 4 year olds settle at bedtime by themselves or do you sit/lay with them until they are asleep? Do they you let them sleep in your bed if they wake in the middle of the night?