Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Bedtime

Today Iris met her new therapist for the first time. I was excited for this to happen because I sensed Iris would really like her, even though Iris claimed she absolutely would NOT.

Already I got some great ideas for some things that have been a huge struggle at home.

I started the session by chatting about how Iris is Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde in the mornings, we never know who we are going to get. Yesterday morning I got up a couple of minutes before Iris and was already starting my day when she came upstairs from her room, fully dressed (including socks, which is amazing considering the sock battles we have every morning). She was happy, pleasant, kind, etc etc. Not one single word about how much she hated school/me/her sister/her breakfast/brushing her teeth, etc like I often hear. We got out the door and to school without a single memorable "bad" incident.

Then there was this morning. I woke up to Iris barging in my room demanding I get up and go upstairs with her. I blinked a few times and said, calmly, "I need just a little more rest". Iris began yelling, demanding I get up, starting calling me names and saying she hated me. It was a bit much considering I, and she, had had our eyes open for under a minute.

As I relayed these two stories to the therapist I was just like, what gives? What makes her the sweetest girl on earth one morning and a snarling monster the next?

I then trailed off in to lamenting our bedtime struggles. How difficult it is for Iris to fall asleep when we need her to. She often lays awake for two hours every night after Eloise falls asleep. Most nights she also complains about how hungry she is after brushing teeth and heading to bed. I said how we don't let her get up and eat, that her begging for food seemed like a ploy to keep from going to sleep.

The therapist suggested, well, maybe Iris really is hungry. Maybe some mornings she wakes up with low blood sugar because she hasn't eaten enough before bed. We didn't know for sure, of course, but it was a likely possibility. The therapist also suggested that putting the girls to bed at the same time probably isn't the best thing for Iris since she stays awake for so long and has really begun to resent being in bed but wide awake.

"But, but, Eloise freaks out when Iris gets to stay up later than she does!" I insisted. "I think Eloise can learn that there are different expectations for each of them at bedtime," the therapist countered.

So, tonight was our first night of the new bedtime routine. Iris did all of the parts of getting ready for bed with her sister but when it was lights out for Eloise, Iris went back upstairs to quietly work on whatever she would like. And eat a little more. While lights out for Eloise is at about 8:15, I let Iris stay up until 9:45. I know, that sounds so ghastly to write. 9:45!?!?! But this is a girl who would lay wide awake in bed every night from 8:15 to after 10:00 all on her own. From day one she never needed that much sleep.

After I got Eloise to sleep I came upstairs and something else cool happened. Iris and I chatted about all sorts of things, made a list of chores she could do to earn money to buy a new doll, looked at coins, ate snacks and just generally enjoyed each other's company.

There was no arguing tonight. No begging, pleading or yelling. No name calling. No crying.

I am so interested to see what the morning brings. And then tomorrow night, and the following morning, and on and on.

3 comments:

  1. Yay for a fresh perspective and new ideas! Sometimes we're too close to the issue to be able to see it entirely objectively.

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  2. I'm always amazed how our children share so many of the same issues. But, this time Iris shares a sleep issue with Eric, whose pediatrician just today referred us to a sleep study center. Seems crazy, he's only six! But, even when we let him go to sleep on his own terms he still gets up a few times each night. So many other issues potentially stem from a lack of proper sleep regulation, so we are willing to explore it. That and sleep medication. Sigh. All the best to you, and hopefully simply letting Iris choose her sleep and wake times will improve her outlook. Good luck.

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  3. Interesting! We've recently started pushing back the bedtime of my older daughter on the advice of my therapist. Before she went down to sleep and then I nursed my son to sleep in the master. Now I nurse the baby down while she has some quiet time and then we hang out before bed.

    Things seem to be going a bit better and she is excited to get some "girls time" in before bed. I hope things continue to improve.

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