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How do you get your kids to sleep?

Fat Mum Slim /

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One thing I’ll never, ever, ever, ever understand… no matter how hard I try… is why kids have such an aversion to sleep.

I reckon I spend half my life trying to get someone to sleep. Luella is pretty good. She’s regressed a little bit of late, but honestly it’s mostly because of us traveling and breaking routine.

Lacey though, she’s always struggled. I don’t know if I did something wrong in the early days. Maybe I needed to teach her how to sleep better. I do regret not getting help back when she was young. For those that are new here, let me tell you what it was like back in the early days with Lacey: She woke almost every 40 minutes every night. Every single time she woke, I’d have to feed her, and then stand in front of the drier to get her back to sleep. I was a zombie, but yet still I didn’t think it was bad enough to seek help. I actually don’t know what I was thinking.

I remember my older sister sitting me down and begging me to get help. She told me she would pay, and that I just needed to do it. I think I was reluctant because I felt like I should have been able to do it on my own. I don’t know how I worked full-time on such little sleep. It was pretty dangerous, I imagine. Even with that talk from my sister, I still didn’t get help. I regret that.

So today, Lacey still doesn’t sleep well. She’s never been the child that goes to bed at 7pm and that’s it. If I’m awake, she’s awake. She sleeps in my room. She’s also a strong personality, and very full-on each moment she’s awake, so it’s exhausting to not have a break from her {that sounds awful!}. I love her dearly, of course. But I would love to be able to put her to bed, and recharge my batteries for a few hours before heading to bed myself. Oh, and spending time with my husband would be awesome too.

I asked my mate Rebel, who has a similar kid to me, how she did it. She said it was a struggle too, but she asked a child pyschologist about it, and he simply said, “You don’t see any 17 year olds sleeping with their parents, do you?”

I’m not so sure. I think we’ll be that family with the 17 year old sleeping in our room. Ha! {That’s an awkward unsure laugh!}.

So I wanted to ask you guys: What’s the sleeping arrangements at your house? How do you get your kids to sleep each night? TELL ME ALL YOUR SECRETS.

  • Everyone sleeps on my face. If I’m awake they are awake. Except in the morning when I get up nice and early just to hang out with my computer. Sorry, can’t help.

  • Jae

    Looks like I’m not the only one who launched a blog face lift recently! I can’t believe I missed this change, Chantelle, but it looks great! 🙂

    Jae of SCATTERBRAIN

  • Natalie Clothier

    We co slept because it was let the kids in the bed or become a total non functioning zombie and do something dangerous through sleep deprivation. We struggled to get our youngest to sleep at night and after moving across the state we were at crisis point. I completely made up the “kiss” technique. We followed dinner, bath, calm time, story in bed religiously each night, then I would kiss her good night and say “I will be back in one minute to give you another kiss”. I walked out and was back in before she could raise a protest, gave her another kiss and told her I would be back for another kiss in one minute. I kissed her hundreds of times the first night, seven the next, three the next and by the fourth night onwards I rarely had to come back for another one. This literally saved my life. Sometimes she would wake up in the early hours and end up in our bed but now she is six and goes to sleep within minutes of being in bed. Maybe we struck it lucky, but after years of my family telling me to let her cry and me refusing to let that happen this was a great compromise.

    Good luck, wishing sweet sleep your way xx

    • I used this for the weeks when my son was in a big bed this summer (at home, he can’t come out of his bed yet). First days I had to go back a few times, but if I managed to get in his room before he could get out of bed, and tell him how proud I was, he was glowing with pride himself.

      We’ll be searching for a new bed for him in the weeks to come, so we can ditch the crib. Problem I see here: he’s still not able to cover himself during the night (and he’s wriggly). First nights were okay when I tried to leave the sleeping bag out, but lately I’ve been up every night to get him covered again, and he feels cold! I hope this will change with a larger bed and a larger duvet, because I’m not sure about letting him have a sleeping bag AND the ability to come out of his bed…

  • Elita Hooper

    Both our boys have there own room…..ever since they were newborns that is where they slept…. If they woke at night I would go to them in there room, never slept in with me unless they are sick.
    Music for my boys also helped a lot and I think a lot of cruel to be kind.
    2 book, cuddle in there bed and then I say the same words every night to them in the same tone and they seem to know that it is sleeping time.

    Nothing worse then non sleeping kids. Good luck

  • Kristin

    routine routine routine. No matter where we are, home or holidays or sleeping at families/friends, it’s the same. bath, book and bed. Lots of counting down until bedtime every night! We relax on Friday and Saturday nights (i.e. a movie instead of a book or because we may be out) but it’s always a lot of warnings bedtime is coming and be ready! They complain, they can try their hardest to avoid it but once they’re on bed they know they get sent back immediately if they come back.I have three btw, 3, 5 & 9.

  • michelle barrington

    Telle boundaries and predictable routines. Our kids, touch wood, have always been excellent sleepers. They are now 3.5 and 7.5 and share the same room with zero issues. We have dinner, no technology post dinner, bath, story, brush teeth and in bed – EVERY single time. The nights we think “gee can we skip the bath” it just isn’t worth it. Sounds boring but we have had friends happy to babysit for us because they all comment how easy it is to get our kids off to sleep. When Raya was 4 she went through a brief period of wanting to come into our room. We put a mattress on the floor. She could come into our room and sleep there near us but not get into our bed because then none of us slept and we couldn’t function at work.
    When they were little we listened carefully for what was self settling and what was being distressed crying. Kids grow while they are sleeping so it was important to us to help them learn to sleep. We also put them down awake otherwise they wake up and freak out.

    Our paed told us that kids who have chronic sleep issues should be investigated for sleep apnoeas.

  • Sarah West

    I was seriously loosing my mind with the lack of sleep I was getting. I had Emma from The Goodnight Nurse come to our home and my son has slept in his bed, self settled since. I would highly highly recommend getting her advise- I have bought multiple gift vouchers for my friends and sent them off to her workshops (she is WA based but does skype sessions). She is worth her weight in gold. Good luck mama!! X

  • Jacinta Barnes

    I can’t offer you any advice but I can sympathise!
    Colby (5) is pretty easy to get to sleep! I lie down with him and within minutes he is sound asleep but at any time from then he can wake up and gets in bed with me and wakes anytime from 4.30-5.30am. No later!
    Amity (2) requires at least 26 books to be read, we have to find the “dolly of the day” to sleep with and generally spend half an hour on the toilet before I even get her in bed. I then have to lie with her where she gets a death grip on me and if I so much as try to get up before she has crashed she shoots up to tell me to lie back down and don’t move. That can take up to 2 hours some nights. On the plus side with her, she isn’t happy if she doesn’t get her 12 hours of sleep from when she finally gives in.
    I refuse to let them cry or scream it out and I know that in a few years I will wish anything to hold them to sleep again so for now I’ll continue to be a zombie and I don’t care what anyone else thinks about how I do it!

  • Dee

    I was super lucky with Declan from about a month old he slept 10 hours no matter what time you put him down at night, 10 hours later he was calling out to us, not crying just laughing and playful noises. He is still a good sleeper although now that he is a teenager he tries to push the time out (8pm) to 9ish but that ain’t gonna fly when he has to be up at 6am to get the bus by 7. Chase on the other hand was a terrible sleeper at first he was in our room (in his cot) till he was 8months old just so I could get a little sleep in a bed and not on a chair holding him. He had reflux and found it very hard to settle and go down for the night but once I figured out the right formula and how to place him in his cot without upsetting his reflux he would do 1 – 2 hours then be up again. It wasn’t till he was a little over 1 that he would sleep through or at least do 6 hours but once I got used to sleep again he started to get night terrors which was heart breaking to watch finally around 3 1/2 years old he got better and now he is in bed by 6.30 – 7pm (depending on what time I finish work) and he is allowed to “play”/read quietly in bed till he falls asleep which is usually any where from 10min – 35min. I have also always had a bedtime routine of – shower, massage (when they were younger), pjs, stories, bed. Now its the same minus the massage and there is no coming out once your in unless you need to pee. Chase used to call out when he was younger and I would go in fix whatever it was then leave, if he called again I would go in and just say gently, its bedtime baby, time to sleep and then walk out, if he called a third time id say nothing kiss his head and then settle him back in his cot/bed and leave. Every now and then he tries to stay up and I just do the 3 time rule and he goes to sleep. Good luck, there is nothing worse then lack of sleep and having to function as a human the next day.

  • Holly Clark

    Miss A goes through stages where we have to fight to get her to bed. More so if she’s overtired and we’ve missed the signs. We do dinner, then a shower or bath (most nights she prefers a shower with her daddy), then pjs on and bed by 7pm. As she grows, we’ll add story time in there. At 18 months, I still breastfeed and cuddle her to sleep. I try to follow gentle parenting and don’t believe in cry it out in any form. No judgement on those who use it, it’s just not for me – it made my heart hurt the one time I tried. Some nights it can take 1-1.5 hours to get her down if she’s feeling ratty and having trouble shutting down. Nights where I’m feeling frazzled and frustrated, her daddy takes over and she’s usually out very soon after. He sings to her, talks softly, and does deep breathing to give her sleep queues. If she’s sick, we let her sleep in with us. She just wants comfort, and I feel I can keep a better eye on her.

    As far as Lacey being in your room at 17, don’t worry! It will get better. I was a kid who slept in her parents room on the floor in a sleeping bag, then on the couch in the lounge for a while, and I’m relatively normal now (I think! Don’t ask hubby, ha!). I hated my room, and have always had a bit of anxiety and struggled to fall asleep. I used to have vivid nightmares and sometimes night terrors. I still do sometimes. Learning deep breathing and meditation has helped. I also read at bedtime sometimes when my thoughts are in overdrive to help distract. I’m sure as she gets older you’ll find something or Lacey will find something that helps her sleep. Hang in there Mumma xx

  • Marsha Bradley

    Oh Chantelle I hear you! Jack is exactly like Lacey, was a total cat napper as a baby, you could set your watch by his 40 minute cycles. He turns 9 in January and still sleeps in our bed, refuses to go to bed until I do which can be 10-11pm sometimes. I tried everything too, felt like I was a crappy Mum because my kid just wouldn’t sleep. Blamed myself for perhaps making him like it whilst in the womb because I’m quite a night owl and maybe I made him like that. I was reading some of your readers comments and quite honestly I find, as frustrated as I get every now and then with the whole thing I’ve learnt to accept that perhaps he simply doesn’t need much sleep and no one ever tells us that. Trying to force him to sleep just makes me mad because he simply won’t . So now I accept it. Not once when he was a baby did anyone ever mention that maybe he didn’t require a whole lot of sleep, instead I was made to feel I was a failure as a Mum. I resent that now. Jack has told me “sleep is boring” and I genuinely believe that’s just how he is. Being a lover of sleep it’s odd to me, but maybe the majority of us who love our sleep are odd to him!! xx

  • I think our eldests are twins. Elka is so the same, and my youngest goes to sleep pretty easily. I don’t think it’s anything I necessarily did – she just seems to be her most energetic in the evenings. The upside (or downside if you have to go to preschool – or school at some point) is that she sleeps in! I am often up at 6 with the little one, while she and my husband sleep until 8. Unfortunately for me I don’t get the benefits of her sleep in. We co-sleep, and I don’t ever want to do controlled crying, so I figure it’s just the way it is. I’ve tried a reward chart. It worked for a week, then didn’t, because she preferred a person to getting a toy, and in the end I thought that was pretty sweet and sensible. So – sigh. I can’t go out at night much, and my time with my husband is minimal, but she’s a great kid, so I guess we’ll just wait till she works it out for herself.

@Fatmumslim