Another Solution to our Bedtime Woes

I knew that I wrote a post before about the bedtime situation in our home, how bedtime was hell and drove me up the wall and was the worst part of my day, and how following the family therapist's advice finally gave me some breathing room and turned it from a horrible time to something much more pleasant. But I didn't check the date that I wrote it until now when I wanted to link to it, and I see that it was a year ago to the day, exactly. So that's amusing for me.

And that did help, and it did work, and I say that a year later we no longer have those issues.

However, to say there were no issues at bedtime from there on out would be a fallacy. But you know how it is, when a problem is so enormous, you can only really focus on that, and the smaller issues, even if they are big issues in their own right, get pushed to the wayside. And once my kids were actually going to sleep when I put them to bed, and bedtime no longer took three hours and lots of fighting, I was able to pinpoint another issue that really bothered me- the fact that my nearly 6 year old daughter Rose kept coming into my bed in the middle of the night.

As someone who had been pregnant or nursing for many years straight, and after that being a full time stay at home mom homeschooling kids who are sensory seeking, I've just been touched out, and don't want all the extra touch, especially when I'm sleeping. I can't fall asleep when little hands are rubbing all over me. So I made a deal with Rose that she can only come into my bed once I'm already asleep, so that I don't have to worry about falling asleep while being touched. When she'd wake up in the middle of the night to come to my bed and I was still awake, I'd tell her that she has to go back to her bed, and she'd usually comply without a fuss, but sometimes would want me to stay with her until she fell back asleep. However, once I already was asleep, she'd often join me in bed

But even that irritated me, especially when sometimes I'd wake up in a wet bed thanks to a kid who wasn't even supposed to be in my bed having peed in it. But I put up with it. I didn't like it, and I'd start off my day often waking up resentful.

And then it all got worse. In December, I fell down while ice skating and injured my coccyx and glutes, to the extent that I can't sit comfortably or even lie down comfortably for long periods of time; I need to constantly be changing positions. (Yes, it still hurts me, I'm still in pain, and I'm going to regular physical therapy for this reason.) When Rose would come into my bed in the middle of the night, it would stop me from being able to roll over and get into a more comfortable position, so I'd wake up every single morning in pain. And when I'm in pain, I'm really cranky.

I realized this wasn't working for me. I needed her out of my bed. But I didn't know how to stop it. I'd tried bribing her beforehand, I tried talking to her about it, but it never really worked. I asked advice from various people and professionals, and I got some advice, but it didn't really work.

Finally, in a session with Rose's school psychologist (the one who recommended I get her a trampoline to help with her meltdowns) she and I were discussing this issue. And we agreed that it was absolutely imperative for her to get out of my bed and sleep through the night in her bed, but just how exactly should I do it was the question. The biggest issue I came across was that while I may feel strongly about it, in the middle of the night I'm not awake enough to deal with the issue and send her back to her bed, but that doesn't mean it didn't need to be dealt with. How does one take care of parenting issues when they are asleep and not awake enough to parent? Big problem.

I had some options presented to me by professionals, but when I brought these up with the therapist, she pointed out that they were bandaids, attempting to deal with the outcome, but weren't actually targeting the core issue, the reason she was coming into my bed. So I asked her how we know why she is coming to my bed at night, just ask Rose? And she said with kids that age, especially kids with disabilities, they aren't able to elaborate the reason why they are doing something, so our job is to figure it out based on what we know about them. She surmised that the reason Rose was coming into my bed at night was because she wanted the physical closeness to me, and the best way, therefore, to tackle that issue was to give her that physical closeness before bed, so she wouldn't seek it out in the middle of the night.

So, on the advice of the psychologist, I have been offering Rose, as part of our bedtime ritual, the touch of her choice. Either massages, chills, or just body rubs. She loves it, and I can see how much she craves it. We have a few songs that we sing together at bedtime, and the entire time I'm singing the songs, I massage her, and then when we finish, I hug and kiss her and leave.

And she stays in bed the entire night!

Honestly, if I knew that giving her 5-10 minutes of full on intense touch before bed would have made my nights so much better, I would have started this ages ago!

I was thinking of getting her a special stuffed animal to sleep with once she went 2 full weeks without sleeping in my bed, but I was advised not to do it as a reward, but just to use it to encourage her, so we picked out the type of stuffed animal she wanted, and she has been sleeping amazingly with it.

There was one more part to this situation, that just made the whole situation better, but that will be for another post.

But I just wanted to share this with you, because if anyone else is having a hard time at night because of kids coming into their bed, its very possible that giving them a massage nightly before bed can be transformative for your family as well.

Anyone else have or had similar bedtime issues? How did you deal with them? If you still have these issues ongoing, do you think such a technique would help your kids as well?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal

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