Monday, August 20, 2012

How to get both boyZzzz in bed by 7:00pm.....

It's pretty easy really - in theory. We just have to keep big kid (our almost three year old) up all day long.

But in practice it turns out it's not all that easy after all.

Go figure?

He's the one that came up with the whole nap elimination idea in the first place! His nap 'resistance' started about a week or so ago...

Our 17 month old had already crashed out in his stroller - magic pop in hand - as per usual. I led big kid to his room to lay down on his 'Choo Choo' bed to recharge his batteries - when he started to protest.

"No naptime Momma. Not today Mom - not today!"

Putting him down in the daytime has been a doddle in the past - in fact he's often taken himself to his room around lunchtime and crashed out on his train bed without a word to us.

It came as a bit of a surprise then, when, after reading a story, tucking him in tight, and closing his door, the little scamp started to get up to mischief in his room.

I'd given him the green light to play - calling it 'quiet time' not 'nap time' - fully expecting he'd crash out after ten minutes or so in his room alone.

It didn't happen. Instead all of Momma's artfully placed decals were peeled off the wall and screwed up (in both senses of the word).

Well shit.

He made it all the way through his little brother's nap (12 -2pm) no bother. Instead he napped away the back end of the afternoon, and wouldn't go to bed that night.

I'm loathe to stagger the boys' naps - if I'd had my druthers the little nap dodger would have been up for the long haul. Letting big kid nap after 2:00pm these days is just asking for trouble - that is if we're hoping to get him into bed anytime before midnight! What's worse - he woke up from his late nap in the biggest grump ever!

The earliest we'd come to expect the boys' bedtime - at least during the summer - was 9:30pm. And that was with an earlier 'successful' nap. Sleeping beyond 4:00pm pushes bedtime to beyond ridiculous... encroaching on Mommy's bedtime!!

Admittedly, even 9:30pm is not great.

Especially with our newborn keeping our arms full. These days we're really hankering for a bit more peace and quiet on an evening. Running full throttle all day long and late into the night feels a bit like burning the candle at both ends.

The day following our eldest's 'nap resistance' was Play-nastics in the morning - which meant a timely drive home after lunch. Usually a guaranteed - double whammy successful transfer to their Choo-Choo beds - synced nap for both boys.

But Daddy had forgotten about our 'First' lady's Pediatrician visit scheduled at 1:30pm and some dilly-dallying at Grandma's house meant there wasn't time to make the transfer.

Instead the girls (Mom and baby) piled into the minivan with Daddy and the sleeping boys, hoping their car naps would suffice.

Of course they woke up early, after barely 45 minutes of car snoozing - a far cry from their usual two hours! Fortunately it was enough to keep them going for the rest of the day, until - you've guessed it - 7:00pm when they both crashed out in the double stroller on Daddy's evening doggy walk!!

Yeehaa! Daddy's earlier timing mishap was the best mistake ever.

Momma liked it - she liked it A LOT!

I didn't really dare to dream this trick could be repeated - but with a morning swim on the schedule the very next day - we decided to give it a bash.

Momma's instructions to Daddy were clear. Drive boys home after lunch. Let them snooze in the car but DON'T transfer them to their nests.

Did Daddy listen?

Did he heck!

By the time Daddy arrived home he was exhausted (we've a newborn at home remember) and he couldn't help but try and snatch fifty winks himself - he should have leaned his seat back in the car!

Instead he transferred the boys and got himself tucked in for what he'd hoped was a good two hours kip. Mommy and baby were nestled in bed together unsuspecting of the change of program...

Unlucky Daddy was woken after only twenty minutes by our 17 month old - as was Mommy. And Daddy's rest ruse was rumbled.

Even though we knew better, neither of us had the heart to wake up our eldest boy. But that was the last time we wussed out on waking him up. Bedtime that night was a fiasco!

Daddy still attempted strolling the boys - and it worked for our littlest lad. But big kid was a fireball of energy, and - sod's law - he woke our 17 month old up before Daddy could make the transfer. That made for two little boys with their batteries recharged. Needless to say it was a late one.

The next day Mommy meant business, (hence caps lock) NO MORE NAPS FOR BIG KID!!

Admittedly, a big part of me was (and still is) afraid to embrace the days of 'no naps'. In the end I had to decide which was the lesser of two evils: up all day, or late bedtime?

With our little lady thrown into the kiddie mix, the chances of syncing all three kiddos for an early afternoon 'hat trick' nap (at least this early on in the game) is slim to none. So, if I'm up all day anyway, I may as well pick door #2: the kid-free-from-seven option!

So, that's what we've been working towards over the past week - so far with pretty reasonable success - save for the odd big fat fail here or there.....

Operation 'keep big kid up,  Day 1 (Last Sunday):

This was the day after Daddy broke. Bedtime had sucked so bad - especially after the successful 7:00pm teaser we'd fluked the night before - that Papa bear promised to stick with the program.

Our nap dodging nipper was kept awake and entertained all day long. Our 17 month old napped as per usual. Both kids zonked out in their stroller on the dog walk. Get in!

Operation 'keep big kid up'  Day 2 (Monday):

A week after our little girl was born, and all things considered, both boys were doing amazingly well with all the drastic changes - particularly in the 'sleep' department. Big kid stayed up again all day, with the help of his cousins keeping him entertained well into the afternoon. By 7:00pm both boys were out for the count in the stroller.    

Operation 'keep big kid up'  Day 3 (Tuesday):

By Tuesday our eldest was starting to falter during 'quiet time'. With no family or friends around, the house was uncharacteristically quiet while our littlest lad napped.

I put The Little Princess on the box and about half way through our poor big kid fell asleep on his feet - literally!

I let him snooze until the end of the movie - right where he was. He didn't get more than 45mins before his baby bruv busted him.

Bedtime was compromised - and poor Daddy had to keep on pushing that stroller until 7:45pm before big kid gave up the ghost. Lucky for the dogs - unlucky for Daddy!

I'd call that a 'near miss'... not a total fail.

Operation 'keep big kid up'  Day 4 (Wednesday):

Of course now we've ixnayed his naps our contrary big kid has started asking for them! After four full on  'long' days it's understandable that the wee man wanted to catch up on some precious Zzzzzzs.

I don't want to torture the poor kid by forcing him to stay awake.... but this is working! Daddy and Momma are finally getting our evenings to spend together... and I don't just mean squeezing in an hour of Shameless before midnight!

By 4:00pm the little lad was a walking zombie. We had family over helping with operation 'keep big kid up' but even with four adults on the case, big kid managed to crash out on the arm of the couch without any of us noticing!

After twenty minutes I started rousing him - it was 'seven o'clock suicide' to let him sleep any longer. But shaking that kid awake was no easy feat. It was like waking a sleeping dragon.

And not a happy dragon. That measly 30 minute power nap made all the difference. Bedtime was screwed up royally! Diligent Daddy strolled those kids for hours until big kid gave up the fight.

At least they transferred OK. Bedtime: 9:30pm.. and it nearly killed Daddy!

Operation 'keep big kid up'  Day 5 (Thursday):

Back with the program - no nap. And the boys strollered to sleep at 7:00pm with no fuss. They transferred to their beds easily. Sorted! We had this bedtime business in the bag.

Or not.....

Both boys woke up after an hour or so (I think little 'un woke up big 'un) and got out of their beds. Getting them back to sleep proved to be trickier than you'd think.

Hmmmm..... Mommy had to rethink this one a bit.

Strollering to bed is a very recent bedtime tactic - only employed since our newborn arrived. Before bambina was on the scene we used to 'divide and conquer' at bedtime. Daddy with one boy - Mommy with the other. Now though, one parent is required to get both boys to sleep.

Daddy's strollering was a knock-out idea - or so we thought - killing many birds with one stone. I especially liked the extra attention the dogs received - and the peace it afforded Mom and babe.

However, the kids weren't falling to sleep by themselves in their beds anymore - a trick which Mommy has worked long and hard on over the past couple of years. Both boys had been pretty accomplished at it - well, big kid more than little kid.

They'd also been putting themselves back to sleep if they woke up. Not since we started strollering them to sleep though.

It must be a little disconcerting falling asleep under the evening sun then suddenly waking up a couple of hours later in a dark cool room!

The poor kids have had so many changes to contend with over the last two weeks it's hard for a Momma to know which factor exactly was throwing them off kilter - the biggest one being banishment from Momma's bedroom (They are both too big and boisterous to be anywhere near our newborn in the night).

It's not quite as harsh as it might seem....

Daddy's bed (no longer shared with Momma - at least for the interim) is set up next door to the boys' room. Their co-sleeping days aren't over, but - for now - if they set out in search of a snuggle in the night, they have to settle for Daddy's bed, not Mommy's.  

Finally Daddy gets to wake up with two toddlers wrapped around his neck! ...........I'll take a Daddy sandwich please! 

I decided to change tack.

Operation 'keep big kid up'  Day 5 and operation 'Super Nanny' Day 1 (Friday):

No nap for big kid.

We decided to go out on a limb and abandon the stroller technique - going instead for the crazy 'off the wall' idea of putting them to sleep.... wait for it... in their beds!

It worked an absolute charm - especially when we Super Nannied the wee one into submission.

Years ago - back in Scotland - We'd watched that wily woman cure a two year old terror of getting out of bed simply by putting him back in bed.. over and over and over again.

The trick was to do it silently - as many times as it takes. But gently, calmy, and quietly - with no words, no kisses, and no attention.

Basically boring the little brat back into bed.

Seventeen times was all it took. And the little lad took it like a champ. He didn't cry - much. He actually had a good giggle to start with, and he even hid in the closet so Daddy couldn't find him. I think he started to complain a little when Daddy reached double digits.

Twenty minutes after lights out and he was fast asleep in his bed. That night they slept more soundly than ever.

Operation 'keep big kid up'  Day 6 and operation 'Super Nanny' Day 2 (Saturday):

No nap for big kid.

The poor little guy still hits a slump towards late afternoon (he's like a bear with a sore arse) but once he makes it to 5:00pm (teatime) we're home and dry! Make no mistake about it, his no-nap grump is far sweeter than his post-nap grump!

Both in bed by 7:00pm. Momma put our 17 month old back in bed four times - by Jove I think he's got it!

Operation 'keep big kid up'  Day 7 and operation 'Super Nanny' Day 3 (Sunday):

Big kid made it through the day without a nap, and asked to go to bed early! Both boys were in their beds by 6:30pm - Daddy had to put our 17 month old back in bed fourteen times.

I'd say it's going pretty well!

It's 8:00pm (Sunday ) and we've already had a golden hour to ourselves - and baby. The house is calm and tidy and Daddy is smiling. The only problem I foresee with the kids having such an early bedtime is that it somewhat scuppers our 'sizzling' social life. But for now I think that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make. We can do 'dinner' and play dates with friends earlier instead.

Last night a family of five brought dinner over to share with us - much later than anticipated - and they were surprised to find our boys were already tucked in for the night. I mused with some regret that it would have been a wonderful play-date for the boys, but as our guests didn't leave until nearly ten it would have been (even more) exhausting for us all - and disastrous for operation 'keep big kid up'!

I've got to say, it feels like we've cracked some magic code! And the secret to our success??

Bringing home the baby of course!

It feels like both the boys have grown 12 inches over the last fortnight, and advanced many moons in maturity - particularly the youngest!

Needs must, right? If it weren't for little sis spurring on these changes, no doubt Momma would still be sandwiched between the boys - I miss them, but I'm so proud of their nighttime progress! Ironically our 17 month old is much happier about going to bed with his big brother than he ever was with Momma!

I don't know how long we'll be riding this lucky bedtime gravy train, but for now I'm lapping up the relatively 'free' time - with our new baby girl, of course!


  1. Hi,thanks so much for linking up the Mommy Brain mixer! Both my boys decided not to nap when they were 2. This led to many an in,completely draining..days, but they did sleep by 8, so I suppose, there's that!

  2. I'm so hoping my boys will continue to nap past age 2 and beyond. I feel like good afternoon naps and an early bedtime is a sanity saver for all of us. Not sure what will happen when we enter the next phase. Good luck with your three! New follower via Two in Diapers.