Ending Battles at Bedtime

October 14th, 2010 by Dionna | 10 Comments
Posted in Carnival and Special Series, Ensure Safe Sleep, Gentle Discipline Ideas, Successes, and Suggestions, Gentle/Positive Discipline, Guest Posts, Just for Fun/Miscellaneous, natural parenting, Respond with Sensitivity

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This past fall and winter were hard for me and the Bean. Beanie hit a new stage where she was busy all of the time, and it seemed like we were just not connecting. For example, when I tried to get her attention to ask her to please pick up those dirty socks and put them in the hamper instead of throwing them on the floor, she was too busy to listen. Instead, she was dashing out the door to grab the stroller and take our dog for a walk. Repeating myself over and over again all day was tiring at best. My fuse got short on a daily basis, it seemed.

I would yell.

She would yell.

We would both cry.

It was not the most joy we’ve ever had in our relationship.

And then, the craziest thing happened. I got pregnant again. And I was too darn tired to put up with it – especially at bedtime. One night, struggling to get both children in their pajamas and then get Beanie through going potty and all the other sundry things that go with getting ready for bed, I was too tired and done to go on. I barked at her to get in my bed instead of hers. She looked scared and ran to my bed. I climbed in too, grabbed the book she had picked out and pulled Beanie over to me. Her body was tense and rigid. Her muscles pulled away from me at all points.

She was visibly afraid of my anger.

But then? Then I kissed her hair. She moved closer. I kissed her face. She moved closer. I wrapped my arms around her. She moved closer and snuggled in. Her muscles relaxed. Her fear evaporated, and she melted into my arms. There, there was my girl. There was the person I am used to. There was “us” again. We both breathed deeply and relaxed. We read our book and went to sleep snuggling. It was the best night we’d had in months.

The next day, Beanie was calmer. She was happier. She was less combative. And so was I! She made a point of stopping more during her play to climb into my lap, lean on my knee, or just get a hug. We continued getting into bed together and snuggling to sleep. It is our connection time. It is our physical time. It doesn’t interrupt her play or infringe on her bounciness. And it has made all the difference in the world in our relationship. We both needed that physical connection, though we had both neglected it. And putting aside my anger and giving her the physical love that she needed allowed her to put aside her anger and connect with me again, too.

I truly believe that a lot of the time, that baby bond is lost when kids get older simply because we assume that they no longer need the same amount of physical interaction that they needed as babies. Their bodies, their blooming capability, their burgeoning independence, they all scream, “Don’t touch me!” But that doesn’t mean that they no longer need touch. It means that we need to focus on the times that they are available for it, even if it isn’t the times that we, as adults, expect it.

________________________

I am proud to host a guest post today from Kellie. Kellie is a work at home mom to two with another on the way.  She blogs about natural living, gentle parenting, and making environmentally sound choices at Mindful Life.

This past fall and winter were hard for me and the Bean. Beanie hit a new stage and
she was so busy all of the time, it seemed like we were just not connecting. I would
be talking to her and asking her to please pick up those dirty socks and put them in the
hamper instead of throwing them on the floor. In the mean time, she would be dashing
out the door to the playroom to grab the stroller and take Grinch for a walk. Repeating
myself over and over again all day when I seemed to be talking into a TV program where
the characters couldn’t hear me was tiring at best. My fuse got short on a daily basis,
it seemed. I would yell. She would yell. We would both cry. It was not the most joy
we’ve ever had in our relationship.

And then, the craziest thing happened. I got pregnant again. And I was too darn tired to
put up with it – especially at bedtime. One night, struggling to get both children in their
pajamas, and then get Beanie through going potty and all the other sundry things that go
with getting ready for bed, I was too tired and done to go on. I barked at her to get in my
bed instead of hers. She looked scared and ran to my bed. I climbed in too, grabbed the
book she had picked out and pulled Beanie over to me. Her body was tense, and rigid.
Her muscles pulled away from me at all points. She was visibly afraid of my anger. I
kissed her hair. She moved closer. I kissed her face. She moved closer. I wrapped
my arms around her. She moved closer and snuggled in. Her muscles relaxed. Her
fear evaporated, and she melted into my arms. There, there was my girl. There was the
person I am used to. There was “us” again. We both breathed deeply and relaxed. We
read our book and went to sleep snuggling. It was the best night we’d had in months.

The next day, Beanie was calmer. She was happier. She was less combative. And so
was I! She made a point of stopping more during her play to climb into my lap, lean
on my knee, or just get a hug. We continued getting into bed together and snuggling to
sleep. It is our connection time. It is our physical time. It doesn’t interrupt her play,
or infringe on her bounciness. And it has made all the difference in the world in our
relationship. We both needed that physical connection, though we had both neglected it.
And putting aside my anger and giving her the physical love that she needed allowed her
to put aside her anger and connect with me again, too.

I truly believe that a lot of the time, that baby bond is lost when kids get older simply
because we assume that they no longer need the same amount of physical interaction
that they needed as babies. Their bodies, their blooming capability, their burgeoning
independence, they all scream, “Don’t touch me!” But that doesn’t mean that they no
longer need touch. It means that we need to focus on the times that they are available for
it, even if it isn’t the times that we, as adults, expect it.

10 Responses to:
"Ending Battles at Bedtime"

  1. I’ve noticed this, too. When my children are not behaving, it usually means that I have become distracted and I need to stop what I am doing/thinking about and focus on them. It makes all the difference in the world.

  2. Great points to remember. And such a powerful story to go along with it.

    It sure is easy to get busy and not take the time to hug and snuggle our kids as they get older. I’m constantly reminding my self to spend more time with the middle child. It’s so easy for her to get lost between the youngest and the oldest.

    When we sit and read together she just soaks it up.

    Thanks for the great reminder.

  3. Vanessa

    Perhaps it is the emotions that go along with pregnancy, but this made me tear up. My son and I have these battles constantly. Tension is high lately, and he seems to suffer greatly from stress, crying every 10 minutes over anything. It is heartbreaking to say that about a two year old. I am just over 5 months pregnant, and he just started sleeping in his own bed right after we found out, around 4 months ago. I never thought of the missing contact. I don’t feel bringing him back to the bed is a good option when there will be a baby there soon. Safety, and the time with my husband are important too. But I can be more aware, and give him that contact more throughout the day. Wonderful post and reminder. Thank you!

    • Vanessa

      Afterthought:
      He also stopped nursing for the most part over the past few weeks. Every once in a while, he will ask. I only produce milk in the mornings, so it is usually then. He has gone through a lot of changes over the past few months. It is incredible how these things get swept under the rug, and overlooked. I have considered them in his recent behavior changes, but never at length. Seems silly to me now to not think of them as traumatic in some way…these are things he has had his entire life. Why would it not effect him greatly to not have them anymore? Even if he doesn’t seem effected by the act itself. I don’t have much trouble getting him to sleep in his own bed. When there is no milk, he simply say “all gone.” and gets down. I assumed he was perfectly fine with the transition. So, I didn’t associate the behavior changes with the routine changes. Amazing. Only wish I had seen it sooner…seems so simple now. :)

  4. I love that just before sleep snuggle time!

  5. Rebekah C   RCThoughtfulMom

    Thank you for this timely article. I’ve had a few little reminders like above this week and it’s been very good to “reconnect”.

  6. MomAgain@40   karentoittoit

    Great story! Even my teen needs some loving sometimes :D

  7. Laurie

    This hits home for me also. I have a 3 yr old, a 20 month old, and I’m pregnant with #3. As soon as I get the youngest to bed (she’s still nursing to sleep) I hit the sack. My 3 yr old son has been sleeping in our bedroom for several months now on the floor in his sleeping bag. No one was getting good sleep with him in bed with us, so this is our compromise. Rather than fight with him we now all go to bed peacefully, he on the floor, me in the bed. DH usually stays up for a while later since 8:30 isn’t his idea of a good bedtime! The exhaustion has really gotten to me over the last few weeks and I’ve been losing my temper more and more. Work stress has compounded my exhaustion and stress levels and when DS won’t do what I say, when I say, I tend to lose my temper. I’ve been trying to remember that its probably more me than him at this point. I do wonder what will happen with the new baby comes and is waking him up. We’ll probably have to start transitioning him back to his room soon and I don’t look forward to that. Thank you for sharing your story! I can really relate.

  8. Love it, Kellie! Bedtime snuggles have been practically sacred in our home because of that desire to connect. We ask Everett every night that we can who he wants to put him to bed. Sometimes it’s me, despite a long and difficult day full of each other, and other times it’s dad because he hasn’t seem much of him for a couple days.

    It is a perfect way to connect and grow in love and out of the struggles of daily life.

  9. Lauren @ Hobo Mama   Hobo_Mama

    How sweet is that! Thanks so much for sharing your story. You’re so right that the physical connections have to continue, despite our children’s growing. Thanks for the reminder to snuggle!

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