Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Locks of Love

For the umpteenth night in row, my evening went something like this…

Me: "Come on boys, bath-time, bed-time!”

Monkey: “No night night.”

Me: "Yes night night. It’s late.”

HD: “I’ll run the bath for them.”

Monkey:” No! Mama!”

Me:” Come on darling, Mummy’s tired. Go have some fun with Daddy.”

Monkey:” No. Mama bath.”

Me: (with, oh zero enthusiasm in my voice) "Alright then."

HD is resigned to standing on the sidelines, crossing his fingers he’ll be brought on for the second half, while both boys splash more water over me than the tiles.

HD: "Time to get out. Who wants to get cosy in their towel with me?”

Cheeky and Monkey: (in unison) “No! Mama/Mummy.”

Mummy sneaks off, pretending she needs a wee, just to escape their jaws of love for five whole minutes. (Must add earplugs to the shopping list; I can hear their cries for me through the walls.)

Me: “Here I am. Jammies on. Pick a story for Daddy to read.”

Monkey: “No! Mama book.”

HD: ”I’ll read. Mummy will stay though.”

(Thanks darling. My eye is on the clock. It’s now nearer eight-thirty than eight and all the good TV starts at nine.)

Monkey: “No. Mama book! Mama book! MAMA BOOK!”

Me: “Oh pass me the blinking book then!”

HD sneaks off in search of a warmer reception from the football (soccer) news on the internet.

After we’ve done Noddy’s Super Busy Day, The Curious Little Dolphin, and Harry and the Dinosaurs Make a Splash, cosied up under Monkey’s covers, we begin the hell that has become getting him to stay in his bed.

Kisses and cuddles are dispensed to Cheeky and he trots off up his wooden hill to the top bunk. Monkey makes a dash for the ladder, grabbing as many trains and small diggers as his two-year-old hands can fit.

Me: ”Oh nooooo, this is your bed.”

Monkey: “No. Up! Up!”

Cheeky: ”No! Your bed is down there. This bed is for bigger boys. You can’t come up here!

Me: “Yes. Come back down here.”

I bang my bloody head on the bloody bed for the billionth time this week, as I scramble off lower bunk to retrieve escaping Monkey.

Monkey: “Noooo! Humph.” (He’s got that toddler folding of arms and pouting bottom lip thing off-pat.)

HD reappears as back-up. Ha ha.

HD: ”Come on. Night-night time. Let’s get tucked in.”

Monkey: “No! Mama.”

Here we go again…

HD: “Mummy will stay, but only if you get back in your bed.”

(Thanks again darling.)

Monkey: (now smiling) ”Mama!”

Me: “Come on then. Snuggles.” And we get under the covers together again.

I will skip the next 45 minutes of conversation. Suffice to say, it involved mass over-use of the words ‘Mama,’ ‘bus,’ ‘whooow’ and ‘raaah’ as Monkey rallied against going to sleep with a repetitive on and off the bed re-enactment of plastic school-bus crashing into plastic passengers and tumbling over plastic Stegosaurus.

At 10 O’clock (!) as I was contemplating tying him down and gaffer-taping his gob, Cheeky piped up: ”Be quiet. You are both too noisy!”

I’d barely said a word, but apparently, my under-the-covers shussshh-ing was enough to offend and have me down as co-disturber of bedtime peace.

As Monkey’s eyelids finally started to look a little heavy and his plastic passengers bruised, I tried to creep out. But with one shuffle of the duvet, he sat bolt upright and said,“No Mama!”

Oh the price we pay for popularity eh?

Twenty minute later (at practically 10-frigging-30 PM) he is finally asleep deep enough (and still in his bed) that I can escape his locks of love. But, yet again, bang went my evening. So, all tips for getting little ones to go to bed without Mama, will be gratefully received. I am desperate to reclaim nights as my own…


  1. Oh Dear, I can empathise, except mine is 8 months old and still likes to wake up every 2 hours. I also want to reclaim my nights. A friend used a reward chart with her 2 year old to coax her into her own bed and it worked like a charm something along the lines of a small toy or a sticker in the morning if she went to sleep in her own bed, a bigger present if she woke up there (rather than their bed) and a fun outing at the weekend if she did it all week? Hope something works soon.

  2. You could be describing my family evenings there Mom/Mum!
    I feel so sorry for hubby when the children are all "I want mummyyyyy to read/talk/cuddle". And like you I do everthing I can to get him involved but they almost look him up and down before saying "Noooo, It's not fair, we don't want daddy."
    Poor bloke feels more rejected than any time in his past thirtysomething years!

    The only thing that worked with my daughter when she constantly kept getting out of bed was to ignore her.
    Not engage her in any conversation, just march her back to bed, tuck her in then kiss her or stroke her head (to show you're not as mean as you're behaving) then go. Of course we had to repeat it about 22 times the first time, but it does get less and less. Eventually. We just had to stick with it.

  3. Hi there, just found your blog. I know so well how you feel, I had the same with one of mine. Here is what you do (and I wish I'd had this advice at the time).

    You put them to bed with stories as usual and then leave them, firmly saying it's night night time or whatever in a calm voice. When they get out of bed, you take them back, again firmly saying it's bed time. Don't engage with any actual conversation, just repeat the message. Third time they get out you put them back into bed without saying anything at all. If they ask for a toy or a drink or ANYTHING, you mustn't respond. Keep returning them to their bed quietly and calmly and silently.
    You may have to do this a hundred times, but if you stick with it exactly as I say, it will work. It really will, but you must be clear and concise and repetitive and don't engage them in any way after the second time of telling them to stay in bed. It's lovely to be wanted as much as you clearly are, but if you don't get this sorted out, you will make such a rod for your own back. Each time you give in to any of it, you are giving them a signal that they can get what they want!! You need your own time too, don't forget. Be firm! Good luck!! Let me know how it goes.

    P.S. If in doubt, keep at it. It may take a couple of nights, but soon you will have your evening back!

  4. My perfect little sleeper, for the past 4 nights, has decided to get up. We're 4 months early1 Then again, "The Twos" start early in my house...

    I wanted to get bunk beds for the boys. I think I might reconsider now! Thanks for the giggle, sorry you missed all your good shows!

  5. Hi mom/mum, I happened to watch "Supernanny" last night and watched a scary vision in the guise of screaming child similar to my daughter (in temper tantrums)!! I think we do give little ones too much choice these days and I agree totally with "anyscribbles" just said. It is hard though but maybe we have to do it to get our life back!!! Good luck! (We are trying to take a stricter line and it is, sort of, working.)
    PS: Our daughter often does not settle down until 9 or later. (Sorry...your story sounds very similar to ours!)

  6. Its a tough job, this motherhood, ain't it just ?

  7. I made the mistake of giving ‘in bed huggles’, where I’d lay next to them for about five minutes. This quickly turned into ten minutes and by the time I got to the last of them I’d spent half an hour huggling and ended up falling asleep.

    They soon got the idea they could manipulate me around bed time. Ha! I got wise to those sneaky time wasters.

    I’ve stopped doing that now and just tuck them in, give them a squeezle instead of a huggle and a kiss good night. I end up going back up a few times but they eventually get the message.

    Basically I do what Tara and anysribbles do.

    As for wanting Mummy rather than Daddy, it depends on which one they’ve got, because they always call for the other one. Little gits!

  8. I've got a tip. It's called a cot. With high bars... Seriously, we are just contemplating moving our two into the bunk beds we bought a year or so ago. Having read your post, I may delay that a little....

  9. I was all for leaving our little girl in a cot until she was, ooo about 9!
    It's really really tough, but you get there in the end as long as you remain firm.
    I was like Dave, sat there on the edge of her bed, holding her hand, not daring to breath let alone leave the room.
    I'd be sat there with a numb bum thinking 'what the f*** am I doing!'
    I can report that my daughter is angelic now! Seriously, she is an angel and I give praise to whoever is listening for finally giving me a break!

  10. Our two boys are in bunk beds now and the two girls are still in cots. Our eldest girl (3) could easily go in a bed now but for the sake of our sanity she’ll stay in the cot for as long as we can drag it out.

  11. I think children are born instinctively knowing how to say the word "no." It's what they're really yelling after they've just been birthed.

    My boys have bunk beds there hasn't been an issue. The girls want them, but the way Avery trips over the cracks in linoleum, I just couldn't bare to see her in a body cast.

  12. LOL! (Sorry, it's not really funny, I know!) I remember those days. I think we 'fixed' it with the silently putting them back in bed move. You have to do it now while they're still small enough for you to lift!

    DD is very happy to at least stay put and quiet in bed so long as she has a large pile of books. DS usually does too unless he suspects we're watching something interesting on TV like Top Gear!

  13. We had a very similar evening last night. I am glad it's not just me! The Littleboys have colds, and are therefore being rather soppy - and that equals wanting Mum, not Dad.

    As for going to bed, I just try to say firmly 'one more story, and then it's bed' over and over again every night. The message has sort of gone in.....

  14. Yep, I think you have to be tougher! With my first I did star chart and marching back to bed. I used to find her asleep on the floor, rug, corridor...I would just transfer her back into bed. The more you give in, the more they end up doing it. But I know with child number two it's going to be much worse as she is a terrible sleeper anyway, it fills me with horror having her wandering around the house at all hours. I think I will put a baby gate on her door...

  15. MDP - thanks for the reward chart idea. I used this for potty training firstborn, and it worked to a point...

    Tara - Yes it's tough on hubs as he wants to help and usually the children are all over daddy at bedtime, but lately I've beoome night-night favourite. I don't deserve such adulation, I've been too short-tempered with them lately!
    We tried the non-engage thing and some nights it works some nights not..we will persevere!

    anyscribbles - Thanks for stopping by! Your advice is spot on. We don't wanty to make a rod etc, but i think lately my trouble is am so knackered by thsi point of the night, my strength to follow-through Supernanny style wanes and I give in. This will have to stop obviously.
    the crazy thing is, he was such a Gina Ford routine baby, asleep at 7on the dot, good napper etc even when we put him in a toddler bed. The transistion onto big bed however has turned all that upside down.

    A Brit - Oh, I had two of those once - good sleeps that is. I seriously do blame the bunk beds for the change. i love them and hate them all at the same time (the beds that is.)

    hadriana - Hello again you. Gosh I used to watch Supernanny from my place upon high and think, "My kids would never behave like that!" Now, I fear the doorbell ringing to reveal her standing on my front step!

    AG - So true!

    Dave - Little gits indeed! 'huggles' I LOVE that word!

    PM - I wish he would still go in a cot, I was in no rush to move him out of one. But that's the place he completely refused to go in anymore...sniff.
    The bunks are cute and actually work great, if you use gaffer tape to keep them in them!
    The boys spent all their time in older sons room anyhow, so we figured we'd give sharing bedrooms a go. it'll probably be a war zone within 6 months!

    ron - Am hopeful the bunks will work. I think they will eventually...
    That made me laugh - "tripping over the linoleum.." Laugh in a good way, if you get my drift? I take no pleasure in your child's bruised knees. Oh. am going to shut up now.

    AA - you've given me an idea..if I put a TV in their bedroom, they'd definitely stay in bed!

    NV - Bless you valley girl - you've made me feel less alone. And I will be trying firm but fair tonight if it kills me!

    ACTTF - I am contemplating finding a gate for his bed! But that's a cot really isnt it?! I will toughen up. I'm just so weak with Monkey cos he's still my baby....

  16. I had problems trying to get my youngest settled when he was a toddler, no matter what I tried I'd either give up in frustration or give up thinking it was easier to just lay with him till he fell asleep rather than have all the stress of the constant battle.

    Then I tried the silent placing back into bed and it worked after about a week, the biggest thing though I think was praising him in the morning when he got up, telling him how proud I was of him and that he was becoming such a big boy, and making sure I told his daddy and brothers infront of him to, that then praised him and he felt big and special. Then when it was time for bed I would remind him how well he did the night before and the drama was soon over.

    Just remember, once the are teenagers you are going to have problems gettin them out of bed!

  17. I know, I am so much weaker with baby girl. That is why she is such a terror. She gets away with murder because she is soooo cute! V similar to your Monkey...hope you manage a couple of hours to yourself tonight. I have been there and done that (mainly on holidays when she won't go down in a strange place) and I used to end up falling asleep with her! But I find it hard because she can't really communicate yet...hmph.

  18. i have had just the same - mamma do it, mamma do it, over and over again - for months, and for everything, not just bedtime. but last weekend i went away for two nights to a wedding, alone! my little monkey stayed with her grandparents on saturday night and back with daddy (who was working all weekend) on sunday night and i have noticed a marked difference - hardly any 'mamma do it's any more! maybe you could get away for a night or two, even just go out for the evening on two (or more) consecutive ones so that there is no choice and then they'll get used to having lovely daddy again. she's always been a terrible sleeper but miraculously the last week she slept through 8-7, and then last night was terrible and we were up at 5-7 til she eventually fell asleep when i refused to put on her slippers and give her breakfast as she was requesting. it's gone this way because she/i have cut out the afternoon sleep (she's only 23 months but has always been a difficult sleeper and went down to 1 daytime sleep already at 10 months). she gets very tired in the late afternoon but it means that she falls asleep in 5-10 minutes at 8pm rather than one of us lying with her for an hour or more til 9.30-10pm until she goes to sleep. she's already in a big bed but now the next step is to get her to fall asleep alone. there's always a new challenge isn't there! i'm going to try the silent method (thanks any scribbles) and see how we go. it's all down to me as daddy works very late and i've got 5 months to crack it til no 2 arrives. so i have to do it by then otherwise i'll go mad... good luck and hope it works for you too. keep us posted!