So this is a slightly different kind of post, because I'm basically putting you guys to work and asking for your help in figuring out how not to spend an hour convincing our kids to actually just STFU and go to bed.
See, we have two little girls - a three- and a four-year-old - and they share a bedroom. They’re the sweetest little sisters you’ll ever see and love each other dearly, which we’re eternally grateful for...until it’s time to go the f to sleep. Unfortunately, they’re love for one another blossoms most right around 7:45 pm, their current bedtime. Now, it varies each night, but conservatively, one or both of us will go into their rooms to remind them to get out of the other one’s bed and GO TO SLEEP about twice. That’s on a good night. On a bad night, I literally have to say, “Now remember your New Year’s resolution…” to Ian as he huffs his way up the stairs for the fourth time after I’ve already stern-talked into the monitor to “Get back into bed and go to sleep” three times.
By the way, his resolution was to be more patient with them. Which he is. He’s one of the most patient dads I’ve ever met, but these kids can drive you to throw yourself out a window if you’re not careful, so it’s more for him to keep his cool and not stroke out than it is for their benefit at this point.
Anyway. Our kids are actually excellent sleepers once they’ve finally given in and gone to bed, and up until about four or five months ago, we never had a problem. And no, nothing about our bedtime routine has changed - bath, books, a song, nuh-night. But for some reason, on most nights, they look us dead in the eyes and say, “Ok, we promise that we won’t get out of our beds.” And then, about fifteen seconds after we shut the door, they’re in each other’s beds, “reading books” (neither can actually read, but they pretend), playing princess, or just generally being giant liars who have no regard for their parents. And in general, they’re pretty good at listening (for their age) and seem to thrive on their routines.
Except this one, apparently.
So what do we do? I’ve sort of gone the route of letting them play and sing and talk for awhile, since clearly us going in there was more of an annoyance to us than anything and had little to no real impact on when they decided to actually go to sleep. But sometimes they’ll stay up for 15 minutes, sometimes 45 minutes, there’s just no telling.
Now we’ve considered putting them down at different times, but knowing them, the one will just wait for the other and play to their heart’s content once they’re reunited...and we’ll be back to square one. We’ve also considered pushing their bedtimes even later, though the 7:45 pm lights-out plan is a relatively new one (it used to be around 7:30). But, maybe we push it later? Which would basically become me going to bed at the same time as my kids, but there’s no shame in my sleep game, I’ll show ‘em how it’s done!
Or….do we just let it be? Because we’ve tried all forms of attempting to get through to them that we can think of - stern voices, understanding voices. We’ve tried breathing exercises to calm them, which only seems to make them want to do actual exercising, so it sort of back-fired. We’ve tried ignoring them, we’ve tried being so annoying that they’d just get sick of us and do it already. Nothing really seems too effective.
So...are we alone in this? Is there actually a solution or are they just getting a bit older and need this time in the dark to wind down together? Which, frankly, I wouldn’t care about if they were staying in their own beds. But they’re basically not giving themselves a fighting chance to even feel sleepy if they’re not (a) in their bed and (b) laying down. Right?
Should we just relax already and let it be, bed-hopping and all, or do you have any tips that have worked for you? We'll take 'em!