Sunday, January 16, 2011

A big fat mess

We have a lot of structure in our children's lives.

You all know about the grid, that Tuesdays are dress days, school days have oatmeal for breakfast and non-school days have cereal for breakfast. The tv is limited and only after dinner and only a pre-school appropriate DVD with 20 minutes for Ramona and then an additional 20 for Beezus. There are some colleagues at work who think I am rigid and that this type of structure is harmful for my children - I think it works great for our family.

Hell, I've even gotten better at getting us out of the house in the mornings. Still not great since we often have to wait around to give Ramona ample opportunity to poop, but it's better.

Bedtime has evolved from what used to be a calm, efficient process with lots of family time into a slightly longer, slightly less efficient process to an all out f^$&*@() MESS !

It changed into the mess when we got the girls new beds and Ramona went from her crib into a bed. Ramona's bedtime process starts at 7:30pm when her tv is finished. It's a long process: a glass of milk, a story, sitting on the potty for another story (around 15 minutes), teeth brushing, pajamas and diaper on, a song, and then she is usually physically in her bed at 8:30pm. If only one of us is home (which is often since I go to Jazzercise 2x per week and usually have a meeting or social engagement another night every week and Mr. Q has been traveling a lot), this leaves NO game time or story time for Beezus and after Ramona is in bed, Beezus gets rushed along through potty and teeth brushing and then she's in bed by 8:45pm and that's when the fun begins.

Ramona pees in her diaper and then gets out of bed to tell us. She sits on the toilet, we put on another diaper, and this process has repeated itself up to a total of three times on some evenings. A week ago they were still getting out of bed multiple times to tattle that the other was talking or because they had to go potty.

I have cried, we have both yelled and I have even screamed on a couple occasions - because my anxiety gets so high because I have SO MUCH TO DO and when they keep interrupting me it just means that I have to stay up later to get things done before I can go to bed. Writing about it brings tears to my eyes because I am so angry that this is happening.

It is not uncommon that they are both still awake at 9:30pm, and it's also not uncommon that Ramona falls asleep and then wakes up again around 10:30pm when she pees in her diaper.

We fortunately have a flexible schedule that they can sleep until 8am. But many mornings Ramona is up at 7am and sometimes wakes Beezus up too.

The few times we've let them go without a nap, they don't go to bed earlier. Ramona can do without her nap, but Beezus (who is almost 5 1/2) still really needs one.

Once we start dinner, pretty much every minute is accounted for, so in order to get them to bed earlier we would have to start dinner earlier than 6pm (which is hard to do some nights) or change our routine.

WHAT - change the routine ?!?!

My kids do best when they have more responsibility and independence. I don't put on their outside gear in the morning anymore as they are allowed to go outside and play once they have it on and Ramona does a great job putting on coat, scarf, mittens, hat and shoes and only needs help getting the zipper started.

We need to transfer some of this responsibility and independence to their bedtime routine, but I'm not sure where to start.

Reward based incentives don't seem to work for Ramona - the reward is too far in the future (even if it is tomorrow morning) to make it worth it for her. And I hate punishing them because if I tell them that they are getting the punishment, then they cry and I hate having them have negative feelings at bedtime. Also, because they are tired they cry even harder and Ramona keeps doing that shuddering thing after she falls asleep which breaks my heart.

What I want them to do most of the time is that they have to do the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do.

I'm hoping that this is a phase, that once Ramona starts pooping more regularly we won't have to sit with her while she is on the toilet for 20 minutes. What we have lost in all of this is time with Beezus - now that she is at school five days a week, I feel like I hardly ever get to have any alone time with her. She and Ramona play so well together that it is hard to have alone time with her while Ramona is awake.

I've thought about ignoring them when they get out of bed, but that's just so not the way we parent that I need to think about that more. The hard part is that if there is even a remote chance that Ramona needs to poop, we have to keep it all fun, and positive, and light because POOPING IS FUN, FUN FUN !!!

I'd love advice on this issue - I'm willing to try drastic measures at this point.

Please comment and leave advice !!!


AwwwTrouble said...

I wish I knew. I.WISH.I.KNEW. We are in bedtime hell, too. I thought i Was the only one whose kids were up til 10 pm some nights. At least we usually get sleepins, though, but it makes the morning busier. Anyway, one of the biggest pieces of advice that we actually sort of do and that sort of works is not to engage past bedtime. IE, when Ramona gets up with a wet diaper, to do what needs to be done without talking or making much eye contact, then silently lead them to bed and retuck them in, etc, but all without really engaging, because what they want is the attention. This does not work when they then shout, why are you not answering me mommy! But I usually then just say shush, it's sleepytime and refuse to answer whatever inane stall tactic whichever one is using at the time. When it's really late, I will say, mommy is very, very sleepy and I am going to back to bed, goodnight.

Elaine said...

How about rethinking the routine to see what parts of Ramona and Beezus you can combine? At our house, the kids bathe, share books, and brush teeth together. Everyone who is in the house at bedtime says verse together, and then one parent does last book in bed for both kids at the same time. Occasionally, we split them up and read separate books, but that's not the norm.

Maud said...

That sounds so frustrating. I know I can't relax till the kids are asleep, even if they're quiet in their rooms; it's much worse when they're not quiet.

I forget - are they sharing a room? Is this a new thing or did they always? Could you split them up? Or wait till Ramona's asleep before putting Beezus to bed?

I think the other suggestions are good. It's clearly just a phase for Ramona to be hopping out of bed every time she pees, but I have no idea how long such a phase will last or what will end it - will she start getting up and using the bathroom before she pees? Is it just an excuse to get out of bed, or does she really need to go?

(Monkey was dry at night very early on, and Mabel isn't there yet, so I have no experience on that front.)

I also have no experience getting two kids to sleep in the same room - except when we're on vacation and it's a nightmare - but I think there does have to be a certain amount of shutting the door and letting them work it out between them. (I know the toilet issue gets in the way here, and I too can't ignore a calling child in the night, but ... urgh...)

Good luck.

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