Monday, October 15, 2012

surviving the bedtime crazy

Because of Evan’s job and everything with the house and so on, I am solo for bedtime a lot of the time. Not all of the time, and not nearly as much now that we are actually in our house, but sometimes. And for me, since becoming a mom of 2, this has been the most difficult and challenging aspect to conquer. I cannot figure out how to get through the hours from 6-8pm when I’m on my own and come out of it still standing on two feet. Sure, the bedtime crazy hasn’t done me in yet, but I feel like it’s come pretty close some days.

The thing is, the further and further we go, the earlier and earlier Gwen likes to go to bed. So while we seem to be (thankfully) past the time of crazy fussiness in the evening, I’m now facing the challenge of how to get them both in bed at essentially the exact same time. I’ve been trying a variation of different things, mixing up our routine, adjusting the order of things, trying to adjust nap schedules and so on – all in hopes of figuring out a system that will help me get through the evenings without feeling quite as frazzled. All of you experienced moms are probably sitting there laughing at me. Developing a system? Figuring out a routine? Getting through bedtime without being frazzled? Clearly, I’m expecting far too much.

Anyway, over the past 3 something months, I’ve figured out a few things that work and a few that don’t. One thing I’ve had to teach myself is that it’s okay to mix up the routine a bit. Especially with Evalyn. When she was an infant I was a stickler for her evening routine. I was terrified that if I strayed, it would mess up her sleep. Now I laugh at myself for this fear. Girlfriend didn’t sleep through the night until she was a year old. So what exactly was I afraid of messing up??

So now, although I like to keep a semblance of a routine in the evenings, I’ve learned that it’s okay to toss it up a bit. Gwen often (not always) has a good evening nap starting anywhere between 5-6 and ending anywhere between 6-7. These nights are the nights that I don’t struggle as much to get through the bedtime crazy. Obviously. So, on these nights, if Eva needs a bath, I give her one right after supper and then she plays in her PJs until snack/bedtime. There’s no reason why her bath has to be immediately before bedtime like it used to be. This way, by the time Gwen is up, Eva is all ready to go. Just needs a snack. Because of the good nap, too, Gwen is usually happy and okay with being relegated to the play mat while I tuck Eva in. If she’s not pumped, she comes with me into her room and we all do prayers and songs together. Then as soon as Eva’s tucked in, I move on to bath, PJs, nursing and bed for Gwen. Thankfully, she’s chill and loves sleep and even if she naps until 7pm she has no problem being back in bed and asleep by 7:45.

On the evenings that Gwen doesn’t have a good nap? Well, that’s a whole-notha-story! These are the nights that I want to hide under a blanket and let the girls put themselves to bed. Not only does it mean that Gwen is usually fussy but it also means that she’ll be ready for bed earlier – probably RIGHT when Eva is, not 10-15 minutes after like normal. If it is bath night, I have started bathing them together – which makes a huge difference. The set up is not ideal but it works. I stick Gwen’s baby tub IN the big tub, fill it up and also fill up the tub itself with a bit of water for Eva. She doesn’t care if she doesn’t get much water. She just likes being in there with her sister. I make sure to have everyone’s towels, lotions, diapers, PJs and Gwen’s bouncy seat in the room with me before we start since I know I won’t be able to leave the room to attend to one while the other is still in there. I clean Gwen first and then get her out while Evalyn continues to play. I lotion, PJ and bouncy seat her in record time and then move on to washing, drying, loitoning and PJing Eva. These nights get a little hairy as Gwen expects the b00b ASAP after getting her PJs on, so she gets quite cranky in the meantime.

These are the nights when Evalyn’s bedtime gets rushed and frantic, which I hate. But, what can I do? I go back and forth between popping Gwen’s paci in her mouth while she’s screaming her head off and frantically reading a book, saying a prayer and singing one verse of the shortest song I know to Evalyn. Coincidentally, these are also the nights that Eva usually takes forever to fall asleep.

Although I’m sure the day will soon come when I have no choice, I haven’t yet jumped to putting Gwen down before Evalyn. My reason is both selfish and logical. Number one (logical reason), it takes way more effort to put Gwen down. It involves 10-15 minutes of nursing, some cuddling and rocking and so on. Number two (selfish reason), I love this time to be peaceful, quiet and dark – laying in my bed, alone together. Obviously we wouldn’t be able to keep it up that way with the Tasmanian Toddler running around.

Of course, once Gwen drops her evening nap, there’s a good chance she will need to go to bed before 7:45, and so I’ll have to make those adjustments. But for now, 7:45 is a good time. It works for her. It works for Eva. And, it works for me – even if it means I’m sweating and have an accelerated heart beat by the time it’s all done.

So, any tips? Anything you’ve done to help manage the bedtime chaos a little better when you’re solo?

13 comments:

Katie @ Loves of Life said...

Any tips?!?! PSHHHHH. I came HERE looking for tips. hahaha.

Honestly? I have only had to do bedtime a few times alone and usually declan will do the bath before he has to leave (and then she just does the run around pj'ed thing like you mentioned)....

You're doing awesome. I need to learn from you. In fact, I need my baby to start liking sleep. Yea. That'd be a start.

Anonymous said...

Try nursing her on one side while you read to Eva, then go have your quiet time after big sis is in bed.

Aunt Shelley said...

Don't worry you'll just get it figured out and something like the clocks will change(fall back is coming up soon) and you'll be figuring it out again...life is meant to be interesting!

This Texas Momma said...

I don't think there is any right or best or perfect way to get two kids to bed by yourself. When E was brand new I would leave Luke playing in his room while I gave her a bath, then put him in the tub to play while I nursed her and put her down. Honestly? I've left him alone in the tub for a while. The rooms are mere feet apart, and I just call to him periodically to check on him. After Evan was down I'd go in for Luke. I was the opposite on selfish time. I wanted her down so I could have a quiet bed time to take time to read and talk with him. Actually, this is how I still do it, and I know it's going to have to change now that she's older- she deserves story time too. Do I do it together? Let them each have their own story time? I don't think the questions ever stop. You are doing great! At the end of the day those girls know they are loved. Oh, and when Luke has trouble going to sleep, I go back in later and lay down to talk with him for 10 or so. It always helps him. Maybe on rushed nights when Eva is still up after Gwen is down you can go back in there? It will get easier as they get older!

Molly said...

I'm solo many evenings too. Recently Ryan is DONE by 6:50, so I try to have bath and dinner done before then, even if it means waking him from a late afternoon nap. Owen bathes in the morning unless he's filthy because he will play in there forever.

What I've found to be the best solution is to nurse Ryan while reading to Owen, or sometimes I will put on some Sesame Street for him to wind down to while I nurse on the couch. Then I will put sleeping Ryan in his crib and do bed with Owen. Both are usually in bed no later than 745. On occasion, if Ryan isn't totally asleep he will fuss a bit in the crib while I do bed with Owen, and then I go back to Ryan.

I don't get that one-on-one baby time, but I do during Owen's nap.

Mateya said...

Oh my gosh I am exhausted just reading that! You are a rockstar!

Isn't it amazing how those babies know that it's boob time IMMEDIATELY after getting out of the bath! Nothing gets past them :)

Erika said...

First off...sounds like you are doing an AMAZING job...even though some nights it may not feel like it.

Just from reading your description I was wondering if you could nurse G in E's bed while you do story/song time? I am sure after G nurses she's super sleepy so you may get sleepy snuggles with both of them at the same time:-)

Just a thought;-)

Jackie said...

Umm I think doing bed and bath for one when I'm on my own is hard. So clearly I have no advice on how to make it work with two. No matter how you do it though, you're doing a great job momma!

Kar @allmylove.mommy said...

most of the time I just accept the crazy that is bedtime...oops that probably doesn't help much right :)

You are doing amazing, you are trying to stay one step ahead and plan for a stress free bedtime.

how do you feel about nursing G on one side while doing songs and prayers with E on the nights where G is READY for bed before E. It might tie her over until you can get in bed with her..

What about letting E play or watch a movie when G is super tired?

Girl, you are doing AWESOME!
I know you've thought of everything I've said already.

Sometimes bedtime is gonna be kookoo bananas because you are only one Mama :) xo

Jess @ Wrangling Chaos said...

Bedtime here is chaos too. Except I'm lucky that I have two older kids to watch Liv while I put Maddie to bed.

Except on soccer nights. Then it's just me.

One thing that helps here is that bath is no longer part of the bedtime routine. We do baths during the day, when I'm short on time and not at the end of my rope.

I also used to put Maddie in the bouncy in Liv's room while I read Liv her stories and tucked her in. It worked well.

Now? Now I have Liv read a book on the floor next to me while I read Maddie her stories, then rock her, and put her down.

Granted, it only takes ten minutes. Cause in our house? Bedtime is no longer an event. Too many kids. I've shortened the bedtime routines so that if I HAVE to leave a kid, it's only for a few minutes.

So. Not sure any of this is remotely helpful. :)

Jess @ Wrangling Chaos said...

Bedtime here is chaos too. Except I'm lucky that I have two older kids to watch Liv while I put Maddie to bed.

Except on soccer nights. Then it's just me.

One thing that helps here is that bath is no longer part of the bedtime routine. We do baths during the day, when I'm short on time and not at the end of my rope.

I also used to put Maddie in the bouncy in Liv's room while I read Liv her stories and tucked her in. It worked well.

Now? Now I have Liv read a book on the floor next to me while I read Maddie her stories, then rock her, and put her down.

Granted, it only takes ten minutes. Cause in our house? Bedtime is no longer an event. Too many kids. I've shortened the bedtime routines so that if I HAVE to leave a kid, it's only for a few minutes.

So. Not sure any of this is remotely helpful. :)

Joyce said...

Sigh, bedtime with two small children. My husband worked out of town when our second child was born at the beginning of this year, (well, he was home the week the baby was born, and for the week after, but then was gone again for 10 days) and was typically gone for 10 days at a time, then home for 7. I have had by far too much practice with putting two kids to bed solo. I hate it so much I wrote a blog entry about it in July (http://joycertaylor.blogspot.ca/2012/07/i-hate-bedtime.html). Yep, I hate it. The nights that weren't as bad were the ones where the baby fell asleep right before bedtime and then I put him in bed and could put the three year old to bed just the two of us. But most nights I was sitting on the floor in the bedroom nursing a baby and reading stories to the toddler.

I also bathed the kids together (still do) and let the three year old run around in pjs until the baby was sleeping or it was too late to let her run around anymore.

My husband has started working in town again, so we share bedtime again. It's been 4 weeks and I am beginning to not hate bedtime.

Perfectly Imperfect said...

this just wore me out. and i struggle with getting just e to bed!! you're a rockstar!