Bedtime should be a peaceful time. A time of winding down and relaxation. A time of looking forward to the rejuvenation of sleep in preparation of another full day or in the case of afternoon naps, evening.
But around here, that has not been the case.
Gabriel, our 2 year old, refuses to stay in his bed. I will put him down for his nap, he is tired and has eaten lunch, gone potty, drank water and I have rocked him for a few minutes, but then he pops right back out of bed. So, I have to stop what I am doing, go back upstairs and rock him so more. This usually goes on until I just give in and rock him to sleep and then put him sleeping in his bed. Nighttime is even worse. Someone has to stay in the room with him until he goes to sleep or he will never stay in his bed, which can take over an hour!
He is in a toddler bed now because he was consistently climbing out of his crib, so we figured what's the point of keeping him in it since he can get out of it as easily as a bed and there is more likelihood that he will fall.
But this is getting ridiculous. Let's say I have Jesse sleeping, then it takes me an hour or 45 minutes to get Gabriel to sleep. By the time I am done with Gabriel, Jesse has awoken and Jo's quiet time is over. Or, even worse, Jesse is crying and needs my attention and I have to still worry about and deal with Gabriel.
It is getting out of control.
I have tried rewards, threats, cajoling...nothing works.
So now, since I have realized that I am feeding into his issue by giving in and rocking him to sleep, I have turned to punishment.
I do believe in spanking. I do not like doing it, but I do believe that there comes a time when it just must be done. And, unfortunately, the time has come. I can no longer allow my 2 year old son to run the house at bedtime and steal time away from his siblings and my husband and I who desperately need our time at the end of the day.
So this afternoon, the pattern was followed. I fun morning at the park, picnic lunch with daddy and 3 tired kids. So, we get home, wash up and I put Gabe in bed, Jo in her room for quiet time and am feeding Jesse so he can sleep, too. But, of course, Gabriel gets back up.
I told him he needed to get back in bed. I counted off the 1,2,3, which he is familiar with, but he still didn't listen, so he got a swat on the bottom. It's horrible. I hate it. It hurts! I am purposefully hurting me child! But this is in the name of helping him get control on himself, be able to manage himself better and not have such a hard time getting to sleep.
I think that it is one of the hardest things to spank your child. You make them hurt, they feel it, and they know it's from you. They cry and all you want is to pick them up and rock them and hold them, but in this case, that's the wost thing I could do. If I have come this far, I can't send mixed messages! I must be firm in this.
It took a few times of him getting out of bed and getting swatted for him to finally get the point and to lie down to sleep, but listening to him cry and call to me totally broke my heart.
But I love my son, and I want the very best for him, and for right now, the best is to not continue to spare the rod and spoil the child.
But I can assure you that the moment he wakes up, there will be plenty of hugs, love and praise for finally staying in his bed and sleeping.
And then, night will come. I hope we don't have to start all over, but I'm not counting on it.