A toddler at bedtime can be the most incredibly persistant, annoying, clever and imaginitive little creature you ever could meet. I adore my boys, but sometimes I just hate bedtime. It pushes me to my limit each and every evening. Our tiny one goes down easy and sweet like the little lamb that he is (for now anyway). The big one is a different story. He's three and a half - going on fifteen, and insists that he should be able to "stay up late like the growing-ups".
I say, "No." Then I make sure he brushes his teeth and goes potty before reading him at least three, but not more than five bed time stories. This is followed by his bedtime prayers and a lullaby. Then I remind him (for what might be the hundredth time this week) that he needs to stay in bed until its time to get up. He knows when that is because he has an alarm clock which looks like a stop light. We have it set to go "green" at 5am*, and he is not to get out of bed before then.
When I leave his room that first time each night, the chances are 50/50 that he'll stay put.
Tonight I knew instantly that it wasn't going to go my way.
First, he was thirsty - so I got him a drink (and tucked him in). Then he needed to pee (of course). He went potty and then I tucked him back in. Soon he needed a new goodnight kiss because the old one had worn off, I gave him the requested kiss and tucked him back in his bed, then he needed to poop - which he did, before being tucked back in. Finally he needed to come out and tell me he was very bored and couldn't possibly go to sleep.
So, I got out the baby gate and put it in his doorway.
He promptly took it down and put it away where it goes in the closet. I let this pass, and I'll confess it was partly because this made me laugh and I didn't want him to know... but then he came out and said he needed another drink.
And I lost it. I took away his fire trucks and their assorted accessories as punishment. He realized what was happening and came running down the hallway screaming like he'd been injured. I said, "Get to bed this instant!" in my most authoritative voice. He had a look on his face that told me he was deciding between defiance and tears. Tears won.
That's about when Hubby took pity on me, and came up from where he'd been working in the basement to take our kiddo back to bed. They are still back there, but everything is quiet, so I'm guessing he's having some success.
Is it just me? Or do all parents deal with this? What methods/tricks did you use to make the process less stressful?
*5am - I know what you're thinking... 5am does seem really early. It IS really early. It's not that we want him to get up then. It's that we don't want him up BEFORE 5am. Ever since he was an infant, he hasn't liked to sleep and if he had his way he wouldn't. But that's another story for another day...