Hijacked by my toddler: A bedtime story

It’s Sunday evening. Our pajamas are on and the warm glow of the evening lights relax us as we enjoy a snack before books and bedtime. My daughter usually chooses yogurt, a banana, or some crackers for her snack. It’s been a few hours since dinner and my milk supply is near nill so a night-time snack has become part of our bedtime routine. Once we are done with snack, I take her upstairs to brush her teeth and use the potty one last time.

Our general routine begins around 7:30 pm and goes something like this: bath, jammies, snack, brush teeth, use the potty, climb into bed, read 4-5 books, lights out, nursing and snuggles. As you can tell by the amount of tasks we need to accomplish and the fact my daughter is not quite 2 and half years old, this can be a very long, time-consuming event. EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT.

Getting her into bed is fine actually. We read and giggle and say I love over and over again. Once the light is out, the real work begins. My daughter still wants to nurse and well, I don’t. Nursing has stopped being a “feel good” part of being a mom. Some nights are easy because my daughter has skipped a nap and is all tuckered out. And other nights, I basically have to lull myself into a sort of meditation to get through it or I just simply fall asleep as I wait for her to fall asleep.

The nights that are easy, she actually falls asleep while nursing. I am talking maybe 10 minutes tops! These are the evenings I triumphantly walk downstairs feeling like a champion and get to have some chill out time with my husband. Maybe even watch some TV together or eat a cookie without having to hide in the kitchen or share half of it. And then there are the majority of evenings….

Most of the time I fall asleep with my daughter (yes, it might only be 8:30pm) because I am just plain exhausted. But those 10-15% of evenings when all I want to do is carve out a little bit of time for myself (maybe to read some blogs or write a post, or even read a book  – GASP!), it’s enough to drive me mad. The suckling and tossing and turning. My poor little bubs. I just want her to stop touching me and GO. TO. SLEEP.

How can I love her to pieces and want to be away from her at the SAME time?

It’s maddening. Eight pm turns into eight-thirty and then eight – fifty and she is asking for another snack, or to read more books, or to watch Thomas and Friends. And this is my breaking point. I have been at the entire bedtime routine, starting with bath time, for nearly 2 full hours.

On these particular evenings, I have to have my husband step in. I leave the bed, tell my sweet daughter that it’s bedtime and mommy is done laying with her. I let her cry for a few minutes before I head back upstairs to kiss and soothe her, but now it’s daddy’s turn to lay with her and get her to fall asleep.

Once I finally have “alone” time, I have to deal with my anger, guilt, and agitation from the past 2 hours. I feel like my evening is being hijacked by my toddler and it’s like a cruel itch that I am unable to scratch. I am not sure if this is developmentally ‘normal’ or something I am personally doing wrong with the way I have established our routine. I know friends who have done the cry-it-out (CIO) method and their child is asleep by 7 o’clock EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. Say what???!

How do I get some much-needed me time built back into my routine? 

 

37 Replies to “Hijacked by my toddler: A bedtime story”

  1. Thank you so much for your honesty in this post. I really liked it. For what it’s worth, I think that breastfeeding is something that involves two people and so BOTH people should feel comfotable with it. If you have reached a stage where you just want your body back then I think that you are ENTIRELY entitled to that.

    In terms of getting more me-time… How about changing your routine so that you and your daughter both know that you will be leaving her room at 8:30pm? Explain to her that she is now big enough to go to sleep on her own (or lie awake by herself until she falls alsleep!) and so you’re going to start a new routine. Maybe make pictures to demonstrate what the new routine will be like? Discuss and remind her of the new routine that is going to start happening for about a week (to let her get used to the idea) and then do it and see what happens 🙂

    As you say though, it’s so unique to each parent and child. Just please remember that being a Mom doesn’t negate your right to some alone time 🙂 Good luck!!

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    1. Oh my goodness, thank you for validating my perspective and feelings. I have considered your advice and think that doing a ‘craft’ project about bedtime is a great idea. I talk to my daughter well in advance of changes and I think putting into art form will help her grsap the changes a bit better. I think I will start this Sunday with the time change here in the great North East. We fall back one hour so 8:30pm will be 7:30pm – she will be tired earlier and I don’t want to miss this chance for an earlier bed time. My husband has also been great about helping find some quiet time for myself. Thank you again for leaving such a thoughtful response.

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  2. Oh mama, that’s rough. We put our kids to bed at 7:30, and they get one story each, and then it’s lights out. No games, no gimmicks. If they put up a fight, they do it alone in their room. They don’t fuss about it much, because they know the rules, and it’s been that way from the beginning. Every kid is different, but you have to do what’s right for y’all.

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  3. Sounds like it might be time to wean your little sprout Momma! I’ve been down that road and sometimes it seems easier to just give in….we’ve taken the easy road on many occasions! But sounds like you are an awesome Momma!

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  4. I can totally understand where you are coming from. For me, it’s no longer the night time routine, but the nap routine. I have to lay down with my twins or they just play around the whole time. By the time they fall asleep, I’ve usually fallen asleep too. I then have wasted 2 hours of my day, when I need to be working or doing chores, and it drives me crazy. I wish I had advice, but know that I am empathizing with you.

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  5. My goodness this sounds like me to a T. Except when I finally get him to sleep after hours then I hear the crying from my baby who wakes up, always when my other falls asleep. Your not alone feeling guilty, I think we all do. However we all need a minute to ourselves.

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      1. Thank you!! My guilt is walking around with my phone in my hand. I’m trying not to do this as much, but it is how I handle my feelings. Its my release. You are defiantly not alone, hang in there momma!

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  6. Oh, I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I’ve been where you are, and it’s so hard. My friends convinced me to let (make) my oldest cry it out (which was so awful for me, living in an apartment at the time and not wanting to bother the neighbors). The first night, I thought she’d never stop! The second night was almost as long, and then slowly the time shortened. I admit, there were nights that I went in and just sat there, not looking at her, but just leaning against her bed so she’d know I was there, but I realized later that that did no good at all. I now have four girls, and I promise that as painful as CIO is, it’s totally worth it! Good luck!

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    1. Oh man, that sounds tough. I have a few friends who did the CIO method and their children sleep at 7pm. That is amazing to me! Last night after laying with my daughter for 30 mins, I told her daddy would lay with her and she was totally fine with it. There IS hope yet 😉

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  7. I understand the feeling of loving you child to pieces and wanting to be far away from them at the same time! Mom life is hard, and we really do need time to ourselves. We did let our kids cry it out- they are both well-adjusted and know that they are very much loved.

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    1. It’s amazing just how much our babies need from us, even as they grow. There is a lot of collective wisdom in the comments of this post. I am starting my art project this evening with my daughter to help explain our new upcoming bedtime routine. Wish me luck! 😉

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  8. You’re not doing it wrong. We never participated in the CIO method. I didn’t have the heart, no shame for those that it worked out with. There will be a magical time when the little one actually enjoys sleep. Hang in there mama.

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    1. Aw, thanks for the support. I tend to identify with the attachment parenting crowd and want to try re-establishing a clear bedtime routine. I view CIO as last resort for my situation. I am sure with some time and consistency it will fall into place.

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  9. I can so relate to this!!! You are a step ahead of me though cause my munchkin is still co-sleeping and nurses to soothe. It is so time consuming and sometimes exhausting. I am gonna try to learn from the tips of others in the comments.

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    1. Thank you for visiting and commenting. We are still co-sleeping too. There are time when my daughter insists on falling asleep in her “big girl bed” and then ends up in our bed at some point in the night. Those nights are few but they are very nice – I don’t have to share my pillow 😉 (LOL!). Breastfeeding is time consuming. I know that the World Health Organization recommends BFing until age 2. Different things work best for different children and families .I love hearing other moms’ experience and draw from what feels best for my situation.

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  10. I love how real this post is. My heart aches for you because I know all too well what being touched out feels like and how it can make you feel just crazy. My princess is a little too small for me to know what to suggest to help you out, and my monkey was formula fed. I wish I had some magical advice, but I can at least say that being touched out is real and you aren’t alone. Sometimes when I’m touched out I ask for a hug from my husband to remind me what a good touch feels like and it helps calm me down almost immediately
    .

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    1. Thank you so much for leaving this comment. Nursing agitation and being touched out are real and they are hard to deal with for sure! I love that you ask for a hug from your husband. I bet he really needs it to! I am slowly weaning my little girl. We are down to nursing to fall asleep. I tell her “milks go night night, they need rest” if she wakes in the middle of the night. I also keep water near the bed for her. I will have to start asking for more hugs from my husband too 😉

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  11. Oh mama!! I feel you!! I’ve been in your shoes and had our bedtimes takes HOURS. I hope it’s a short lived phase and you get your nights back soon!!

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  12. I can so relate to this! I recently moved my son out of my bed and into his to eliminate the ALL night nursing. It just got to be too much. Which, of course, I felt guilty about. But I think we both sleep better now. Most days he still ends up in my bed around 5/6am but an hour or two of continuous nursing is much more manageable. I am patiently waiting for the day he doesn’t do that anymore. Which may be a long time off but I know it won’t be like this forever. 🙂

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    1. Inez, you have a good point. This too shall pass and when it’s gone I probably won’t even remember the negative feelings – I will probably want those days back! …..oh the irony of motherhood. 🙂

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  13. It’s a long time since my daughter needed a sleep time routine but the thing that never failed was when I would just project loving thoughts and feelings towards her while I sat with her. As soon as my thoughts went to “OMG when am I going to get to watch my TV program” she totally knew and would immediately become agitated. As long as all I did was LOVE her she would settle down no problem. Be gentle with yourself!

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    1. Juliet, you are 100% correct. The second my mind gets agitated or wonders into the realm of aggravation and thoughts like: “I just want 30 minutes to myself….”, my toddler reacts, needs a drink of water, etc… Thank you for stopping by my blog. I love having other moms share their wisdom. It means a lot. Have a great weekend.

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