Carson’s Bedtime

May 23, 2022, Tiffany Newman

Carson has always had issues falling asleep or just sleeping in general. He is a very active toddler who does not like to stop and relax. Carson does not like going to bed and wakes up at the crack of dawn EVERY SINGLE DAY (5 am). We try and make sure he is getting the proper amount of sleep he needs to thrive and grow, but as I said, it is challenging. Our bedtime routines consist of dinner, bath time, reading books, and laying in bed while mom or dad sings a bedtime song, and then it’s time for sleep. Our routine takes an extremely long time and is not easy. We have been trying to figure out how to lessen the amount of time we spend reading and relaxing Carson but have not found a good solution yet. It can take us anywhere from an hour to two hours to get him to sleep, and by the time we say it is time for bed, our relaxed child becomes a nightmare. When we leave the room, he will often get out of bed and into the hallway, or he will start to scream.

Photo of Carson in red plaid pjs

Now, I wouldn’t mind as much if he got out of bed and just stayed in his room quietly reading or doing whatever, but he usually runs down the hallway making noise. When we get him back in bed and tell him he needs to stay there, he either screams and cries or waits for us to shut the door and gets up again. Sometimes he will do this repeatedly, and by at least the second to third time of not listening, we start taking away toys. Carson, unfortunately, does not have a special toy or anything that will motivate him to listen to us if taken away, so it is challenging for us to figure out how to discipline him. Sometimes, after a while, both my husband and I are exhausted from fighting with him, and we will give in to either singing more songs, reading, or rocking him to get him to relax once again. Once he finally falls asleep, we are completely exhausted and ready for bed. Then, around 5 am, Carson, decides it is time to get up and is usually loud about it, waking up almost everyone in the house. We have recently purchased a clock that turns green when it is time to wake up and have been trying to get him to understand that he cannot get out of bed until after the clock turns green. This also has been challenging and usually does not work, like this week, when he decided that 4:30 am was the best time to get up.

Photo of Carson in green rain jacket and orange bootsRecently, Carson told us that he was afraid of the shadows that the coats made in the closet at night. He and my husband discussed shadows and what they were. We also moved his nightlight closer to his bed so he could see that there was nothing scary. The nightlight helped him, and he relaxed enough to fall asleep quickly without screaming, yelling, or crawling out of bed. This was a big breakthrough for him and helped him the next few nights. However, he is now back to getting out of bed and yelling again.

We also found that any cartoons after dinner make the bedtime routine much more difficult. We read somewhere that not letting children watch tv an hour before bedtime helps them go to bed easier and sleep better. I didn’t really believe this until our child started having issues, and now, I honestly see what they mean. It is like my son’s mind will not shut off before bed, and he will do anything and everything to stay up, and I mean, he will try EVERYTHING. We used to go through a list of things that he wanted or needed every night, thinking that this was something that truly would help him go to sleep. After a while, we realized that he wanted these things as a way to delay going to bed. He would ask for water repeatedly, say that he was hungry even though he had his dinner already, tell us he needed a specific blanket or something to get out of his room, and delay going to bed. After a while, we made sure that he had the most important things, such as a water bottle in his room, his blankets, and his stuffed animals that he sleeps with so that we could avoid that. My son is sometimes too smart for his own good.

Photo of Carson in red plaid shirt and brown overallsEvery day is something new, and we never know how bedtime will go with Carson. It is extremely tiring after a while, and we are trying everything right now to make things easier for both Carson and us. I am hoping that this is just a phase, and he is learning his independence and emotions, but it seems like this has been going on for a very long time. It is tricky to put Caleb to bed before Carson because Carson tends to wake Caleb up, especially on rough nights. And sometimes, I feel incredibly alone and that we are the only ones who have gone through something like this. It is hard to know who to turn to for advice or where to look for information regarding something like this. Hopefully, we will figure out a solution, and Carson will be able to go to bed relaxed, peacefully, and comfortably without the hour and a half to a two-hour bedtime routine.