October 28, 2011,
C.B. asks from Raleigh, NC on October 27, 2011
Difficulty with 5 and 6 Year Old Settling down at Night.
I am at my wits end!!!!!!!!! as I'm writing this!! My 5 and 6 year old daughters who are generally rule followers and well behaved girls who don't test the boundaries much will not go to sleep at night!! They have been sharing a bedroom for almost 1 1/2 yrs now and this wasn't a problem when we moved them into the same room. Yes, they have to share a room, we don't have enough bedrooms for each of them to have their own room and once again this wasn't an issue at first when we moved them into the same room. It is more recent! At first their bedtime was 8:00pm which didn't work as I was dragging my 6 year old out of bed every morning at 7am to get ready for school. I should add that both of them require a lot of sleep, they have since they were infants. At 6 weeks old they were sleeping a straight 9 - 10hrs at night!
Since about 6 months ago they wouldn't go to sleep and I would hear them talking, laughing, squirming in their room. At first I didn't pay attention to it and hoped it was just a phase that they would grow out of if they didn't receive reinforcement from me. Eventually it would be about 9:30 or 10:00 before they would ever stop. My 1st grader couldn't function once I woke her up in the mornings and they were both super groggy!! I finally started putting them to bed at 7:30 with consequences for getting up or playing/talking. Still didn't help!! I started putting them to bed at 7:00 (per advice of a close friend who suggested that if she missed the "window" for her daughter to fall asleep she would get so ovetired that she stayed up forever and had a hard time settling back down.) This still isn't working!!! They are still up an average of an hr to 1 1/2 hrs after I put them to bed. I end up going in there several times to tell them that it's not acceptable and when I leave sure enough I hear them again! I have tried earning reinforcements for going to bed, taking away privileges, talking with them. Their routine is very consistent and has been since birth, so I don't think this is the issue. They eat well at dinner time so they're not hungry. We have dinner at 5:30/6:00, then bath, brush their teeth, and read a story for 20-30 min. with the lights low and I don't allow for them to play and get all excited during this time. They spend a lot of time outside and I even have them play outside for at least an hr. when DD in 1st grade gets home. I thought this time would help them to have time with each other, they have time to play, interact chat, etc. At the dinner table we don't allow for them to get up and so forth and we talk about our day. My point is that I don't think it's a lack of interacting with each other or not being physically active enough during the day. NO TV or computer time from dinner time onward!
Any advice will be greatly appreciated!! I have been a dedicated SAHM mom for 6 1/2 years now and the evenings are the only time that I get to relax, read, clean, or watch a tv show. If they don't settle down till 9:30 or 10:00 that doesn't leave me very much time until I go to bed!! Oh and YES! I spend A LOT of time with them during the day so I don't think it's a plight to get my attention either.
Thanks in advance for your advice moms!!!
K.U. answers from Detroit on October 27, 2011
How about having the 5 year old go to bed 30 minutes to an hour before her sister? Would that work if it is explained to them that older sister gets "older sister privileges" and gets a later bedtime?
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K.L. answers from Washington DC on October 27, 2011
My girls are 8 and 10. They have their own rooms but have been sleeping in the 10 year old's room for as long as I can remember. I obviously can send the 8 year old back to her own room if they get out of hand. But then I just hear them creeping around the minute I'm back downstairs!
I often have them get in bed 30 minutes before I'd really like them to go to sleep. I explain that this is their sister bonding time. They can talk and laugh and be silly, but they must remain in their beds (otherwise they start running around, pillow fighting, etc.) I do love listening to them tell stories to each other. I don't have a sister and I know they're making lifelong memories up in that room. And I do get what you're saying, that they have plenty of time with each other during the day. But there's something different about sitting in your darkened bedroom and brings out the chatty cathy in you.
But still, I want them to get their sleep. So after the 30 minutes I go up and tell then "I gave you that time, and now it's time for you to do something for ME and GO TO SLEEP!"
You could always do what my husband does. I'm usually the task master in the house, but the other night I told him I was sick of telling them to settle down, it was his turn. I heard him go upstairs and say, "If you girls don't stop talking I will take $5 from each of you." This was met with utter silence, for the rest of the night. Not my favorite parenting move, but hey, you do what you gotta do sometimes.
And my final piece of advice - google the book "Go the F_ _ _ to Sleep". It's honestly one of the funniest things I've ever read as a parent. Sweet dreams :)
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R.R. answers from Los Angeles on October 28, 2011
You seem to have handled their routine well, which is great : ) Stop going in several times to remind them to be quiet, expect it from the beginning. Make sure the room is dark, put up a shade to darken it if it's not, and have a fan for white noise. Buy them each a cute sleep mask. Also consider re-positioning the beds and furniture if possible (my parents did this and wow, did it make a difference!) and leaving the bedroom door open until you are sure they're asleep, tell them since they can't be quiet they lost the privilege of a closed door...something about knowing the door was open kept us quiet and we went to sleep. You could also sit right outside the open door, I know you need your time to relax, i truly don't believe you'd have to do this more than a couple of times to show them you're serious and mean business, and if they don't like it they'll learn to obey and go to sleep.
And, try putting the 5 year old down half an hour earlier, or if her sister is the instigator the 6 year old first, or alternate who goes down first. Basically you want to shake up THEIR new routine so you can get them back to going to sleep without it taking hours.
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S.H. answers from Honolulu on October 27, 2011
Try a partition in their room?
A folding screen?
Unfortunately, they have to share a room.
Or try an egg timer. When it dings, then that is time for them to STOP all noise and playing.
Give them a set amount of time.
Then that's it.
Or one of them sleeps on the couch.
Can one of them sleep in the living room or something?
In some cultures, the living room switches to a sleep room, at night.
It works for them.
And yep, sleep deprivation... is not good for kids.
Maybe, look up sleep deprivation online.
THEN, with them... read it to them and tell them about the "facts" about it.
Maybe that way, they will understand.
My kids, they like when we research things online. We show them what the facts are about something, and they really understand and get it in their heads. It is ANOTHER way to approach, the sleep problem.
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J.W. answers from Lexington on October 28, 2011
Sounds like you are doing great. At first they started talking at 8 for 1.5 hours. Now they start talking at 7 for 1.5-2 hours, which means you are at least getting them to sleep by 8:30-9 ... Not great, but better than the 9:30-10.
Next step could be to stagger their bedtime by half-an-hour, and if that doesn't work, try 45 minutes. Get the younger one snuggled into bed with a bedtime story. The older one can join, but she needs to leave the room and read, color... whatever until HER bedtime. They may need to do their some of their nighttime routine at separate times, including brushing teet hand putting on PJs. You can give her her own little bedtime story in the living room before she goes quietly... shhhh... so she doesn't wake up her younger sister.... shhh.....
Best of luck :-)
A.D. answers from Washington DC on October 27, 2011
I really don't have any advice for you except to just ignore them and do your thing after you put them down for bed. I always shared a room with my sisters from birth until they moved out when I was 16. We stayed up most nights talking and what-not and we are all incredibly close to this day. I'm not obese, stupid, or slow from missing out on sleep because of this as a child :)