The Black Hole Bed
The Black Hole Bed. A bed with a gravitational pull so strong that nothing can escape from it.
Not even light.
I need one.
I’ve gotten off easily on the sleep front, I know. Ever since the babies were about 7 months old, when the clock hits 7pm, I am free to do as I please. We have a sweet, lovely night-time routine, then my duties are FUCKING OVER and they go happily to sleep on their own. Sure, plenty of nights there were multiple wake ups for sick babies or inexplicably crying babies, plenty of changing sheets in the darkness, getting no sleep at all… But that’s all totally fucking easy compared to the horror stories I’ve watched/am watching some of you live through. And I guess what I’m going through right now is still totally fucking easy compared to being woken up over and over and over all night long.
That said, the current situation we’ve got going on is turning me into a crazy person. As silly as it might sound, it’s a big part of the reason I think I can’t possibly manage a third child. Not because I think this situation will go on forever, but because I am a raging monster who can’t stand her children and dreads taking care of them. Bedtime used to be sweet. Now I fucking hate it.
I need HEEEEEEELP. Even though I know I’m going to be all I TRIED THAT. WAAAH! I CAN’T DO THAT BECAUSE OF X LOGISTICAL REASON. WAAAAH!
Okay. It all started when Bunlet outgrew his sleeping cage. Once he had a floor bed, he started running around during his nap. It kept Bun Bun from sleeping (recall that they share a room) and drove me wild because I couldn’t rest during naptime either. We tried everything we could think of, but none of it worked. He was tired as fuck but just wouldn’t sleep. Sometimes. Other times he’d be fine. Anyway, we spent a lot of time strategizing, but it was tolerable because nights were still fine.
Until they weren’t. It’s been up and down, on and off, for months now. Mr. Bunny and I take turns putting them down. We put them down with their nice soothing routine, they’re quietly lying in their beds, we leave. Soon we hear the patter of little feet and shrieks of laughter. We go in and they scamper back to bed, giggling. We leave. Pitter patter shriek scamper giggle. It goes on and on, for an hour or more. They are shut up in their room–it’s not an issue of them coming out, just an issue of what they DO in there. (There are two doors to their room. One we keep closed. One opens on to the bathroom they share with us, and we HAVE to keep their door open so Bun Bun can get up and use the toilet, but we keep our door closed. They can’t open them.)
We have tried:
1. Letting them patter and shriek–maybe they will put themselves to bed when they are ready. Maybe they would, eventually, but while we wait, they get up to some insaaaaane mischief. I mean, there’s basically NOTHING for them to play with, but every time we’ve tried leaving them to it, they’ve found a way to destroy something in a hugely messy way. Like when they got the scissors out of the childproofed cabinet and snipped up the shower curtain. (Awesome moment: I came in and Bunlet was snipping, and Bun Bun said I’m waiting for my turn. Which, THANK GOD she was willing to wait patiently, because those scissors are sharp.)
2. A later bedtime. Maybe they’re not tired yet. Pattern is the same, just an hour later.
3. Skipping nap. Maybe they’re not tired. Pattern is the same, just with hysterically tired children.
4. Repeatedly putting them back in their beds with firm reminders and increasingly less interaction. This strategy only works if you can do it without getting angry. I seriously can’t. This was actually the source of the hitting episode…
5. Time outs and various kinds of consequences. Works for Bun Bun, but it sort of doesn’t matter because it doesn’t work for Bunlet. If one of them is up, they might as well both be up.
6. Exploring whether it’s our obvious frustration that’s causing them to act this way. If we can just understand that it will pass, it’s just a phase, if we can just get into the right mental frame of mind they won’t play this particular game anymore… This strategy only works if you can get into that magical frame of mind. I seriously can’t.
7. One of those alarm clocks that has a sun and a moon. Bun Bun liked it, but Bunlet mostly just wanted to unplug it and poke at it.
8. Staying in the room. They’ll stay in bed as long as I’m there, but this strategy only works if you can do it without getting angry. I seriously can’t. They provoke me. You know, Bunlet will see how much of his body he can get off the bed before I put him back. Then they laugh. I lose my SHIT. Plus, is standing there for an hour really an improvement over having to come back in? Only if it leads to them not doing this anymore.
9. Some stuff I’m forgetting right now.
We have NOT tried
1. Offering to leave a door open if they will stay in bed. The internet suggests using this as a bargaining chip. Not sure it will work now, since the’ve been sleeping with closed doors for years.
2. Putting them in separate rooms. Eventually we plan to do this, but it would be SO great if we didn’t have to do it yet. We want to keep our guest room for as long as we can.
3. Lying down with them. Lying down with them does not mesh with my parenting philosophy. Won’t bother explaining why, just consider it OFF the table. But I have tried rubbing Bunlet’s back and other putatively soothing things. See 8 above.
4. Sticker chart style rewards. Could work.
5. Lots of other things.
Looking over the list, it certainly jumps out at me that my inability to not get angry is mentioned a lot. I have an appointment with my old therapist in a couple of weeks, and can certainly work on that angle. Mr. Bunny is suffering from the same reaction, so even after I am fixed, he won’t be. But if I can transform into a magic person with no normal feelings, I can certainly take over bedtime.
They are actually just about to go from floor beds to real beds (supposed to be delivered today!) so it’s a great moment for new strategies. If you have any, lay ’em on me.