Sunday, October 26, 2008

The battle rages on

I'm sick of blogging about this.

I think I've decided that the so-called "silent return to sleep" isn't going to work. I actually thought it would. I figured we'd have two or three bad nights, then progressively better ones as he realized his antics weren't going to work. I was ready to do it night after night, but I think my resolve hinged on the strategy doing some good and showing some progress. But that certainly isn't what has happened. Last night showed me that he'd keep this up forever, if there were no other consequences. He doesn't really care that I just put him back to bed anymore; he gets away with getting up over and over and so what if I put him back - it's more fun than going to bed, apparently. At least he gets to see me every minute or so.

Today I emptied his room of just about everything - toys, books, etc. I left him his pumpkin nightlight, his kitty, elephant and shark (the animals he sleeps with), his two extra blankets (superman blanket and monkey blanket), his monitor, fan, his lamp and his regular nightlight (that we don't use while the pumpkin one is on). Everything else is in the playroom.

I told him that if he got up once, he would not get books at bedtime tomorrow; twice, his pumpkin nightlight would go away; three times, his kitty; four, his shark; five, his elephant; six, his monkey blanket; seven, his superman blanket. After that, I said I would no longer tuck him in and he would have to pull up his covers by himself. I thought maybe, just maybe, when he was down to just one animal, he might actually stay in bed just so he could keep the elephant and have something to sleep with. What on earth was I thinking?

In the end, he lost his bedtime stories for tomorrow, his nightlight, his kitty, his shark, elephant, monkey blanket, and superman blanket - as well as his lamp, since he kept turning it on, and the light bulbs out of his overhead light, since he kept turning that on too. And still, he got up; he was just getting started.

After about 40 minutes, and one big throw up on his floor, I made an executive decision. In some extreme situations, we've put him in a time out in our van, in the garage. It's been reserved for those times when he's done something really bad, or escalated a situation so far we feel we have to do something pretty dramatic. I have to be honest, we've been discussing whether or not to spank him at this point, and generally, I'm not a fan of spanking. But this has gone on so long and to such an extreme level, we're actually talking about whether to try it. Anyway, I was thinking about that, and thinking about whether a time out in the van is any worse than a spanking, and decided to try a time out in the van again. My husband did that a few times when this whole mess first started, but it was the kind of thing he did out of anger. After D threw up all over himself in the van once, and I had to clean up the subsequent mess (and let me tell you, cleaning up puke off of a carseat is not easy at all), we decided not to use it as a consequence anymore. It left a bad taste in our mouths, not to mention the cleanup was awful (part of my problem with it was that my husband was leaving him out there for much longer than I felt he should). However, I know how much he hates it, and when used sparingly, it's been effective in the past (emphasis on used sparingly, and we went through a period where my husband got too van happy and would escalate to that almost immediately - it was the cause for some heated discussions between the two of us, but that was a while back).

In any case, since I'd taken away everything that I could, barring his covers (and if I did that, he'd get cold in the night and wake me up, which I don't need any more of that), his nightlight, which just seemed too mean, and his fan, which also seemed too mean since I know he can't sleep without it (I can't sleep without mine either, so I get how that feels), and I didn't want to start taking away things only to give them back if he promised to stay in bed ("Ok, I'll turn your nightlight back on if you stay in bed), because what do I do if he doesn't... Anyway, all that to say, i decided to put him in a time out in the van. I warned him that I would, that if he got up again, he would go sit in the van for two minutes. Of course, he got up, so we headed downstairs to the garage.

He had three van time outs tonight, before he finally decided to stay in bed. THAT is how stubborn this child is.

Right now, we're considering whether to put a lock on his door so he simply can't get out. I am running out of ideas and nothing seems to be making an impact on him. It's insanity, seriously. I don't really want to do it, but we're discussing it. I don't want to spank him either, but we're discussing it. I don't know what else to do. He's so overtired, he wakes up in the night every night now and it's hard to get him back to bed; and he wakes up ridiculously early in the morning, both signs that he's not getting enough sleep. I'm utterly exhausted, not to mention behind on work and pretty sick of the whole thing. I just do not understand.

It may sound like my calm is out the window, but I'm not angry. Yeah, I'm frustrated (who wouldn't be), and pretty perplexed at why this has gone on so long and why no consequence seems to be enough. But I'm staying calm about it and not letting it make me miserable all day long. At least I'm trying.


Erica said...

Oh Claire, it just sounds awful. I wish that I had some productive advice. I would also have taken every "play" item out of his room and then started progressively taking the rest of it away. Bummer that didn't work!!! The lock on the door isn't a bad idea - just make sure to unlock it before you go to bed. I thought about doing that but was paranoid E wouldn't be able to get out in an emergency. My friend did that to keep her kid in bed and it worked.

I'm sure you realize it, but this is all one big battle for control. A battle made worse by fatigue. Are you pushing his bedtime up to account for the nightly fight?

I have a feeling that things will turn around soon, once you have a breakthrough it will go quickly. It is too bad we can't slip them a tylenol PM, eh?

Claire said...

LOL Erica - yeah, amongst our ridiculous ideas that we'd never do but you start thinking of when things get bad, drugging him has come up. As has duct tape.

We are starting bedtime super early to try to get him in bed and actually asleep at a decent time. It's been a pain to start so early, but what are you gonna do...

I think we're going to put on a lock today. We'll give him the chance not to lock it, but if he gets up, it will be locked. It's going to be ugly.

Pamela said...

You could use a hook and eye type lock on his door on the outside up high.
Sleep issues suck. My boy has been getting up super early lately and it's driving me nuts.
I hope you all get the sleep thing figured out.