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play at bedtime

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  • play at bedtime

    I love your book, and have really gained a lot from your tips and advice. My husband and I are constantly reminding one another to be playful when things are stressful and it always works. But what about at bedtime? We struggle many evenings with an overtired toddler who just won't nap and then it is a major struggle to get her to bed. How or should we use playful parenting at these times. I worry it would just rile her up more and make bedtime even more stressful. But I am very concerned that we are creating a really negative attitude around bedtime with our constant struggles. We are working on stopping the overtired cycle but she refuses to nap and has a 5mo. old brother. It seems like 5pm is when she should be going to bed but then she thinks it's a nap and is up at 8 or 9 ready for a full day of play.

  • #2
    Nap/bedtime dilemma

    The no-nap, frustrating bedtime scenario you describe is a common one. I can see why you don't want to rile up your 2 and 1/2 year old with playful time before bed, but a light -hearted attitiude doesn't necessarily have to involve high-energy play. I like the author's example of two dolls talking about his daughter getting dressed for school in the book. This could be really helpful to you in getting your daughter to bed at night- using two dolls to role play the bedtime dilemma. Also, it might be really helpful , if at all possible, for you to continue to create an hour of quiet time for your toddler, even if you have to nurse the baby in the toddler's room( or wherever she sleeps) or read a book side by side. I abandoned this practice far too early with my youngest, but I went back to it recently and he seems to welcome the quiet time at almost 5 yrs old.


    • #3
      Playtime at bedtime?

      Hi, I sympathize with the worry about revving things up at bedtime. There are two solutions to this. One is to take the risk and get into play mode at bedtime anyway, even though it might indeed mean that your child delays bedtime even more--but it will pay off in the long run. The idea of taking the power struggle away from you vs your child by making the struggle a pretend/symbolic one between two stuffed animals is my favorite game for this kind of situation. You use two silly voices, and have one animal say,"She can't go to bed, look she isn't even tired!"and the other animal says, "Oh yes she is, look at her droopy eyes!" the first one looks deeply into her eyes, and the game goes from there. this breaks the knot of tension that has built up around bedtime (I think many parents do not understand that all sleep is felt by the child as a separation, even if they are sleeping in your arms or beside you!). the more giggles the better, then she'll snuggle up and go to sleep. at least that's the idea! the other solution is to make up games about sleeptime but play them during playtime, earlier in the day. you can say, "i've noticed that we always have a big fight when it's bedtime (you say this with a big smile). Let's fight now instead!" And have a pillow fight or a silly argument about whether the sky is blue or green. You can also try this: at the time that "should" be naptime, pick up a doll and say to your daughter, "This baby won't take a nap! i don't know what to do! Can you help me?" Have a light and fun tone of voice, which then will give you "permission" to say some of your frustrations out loud. of course, keep an eye out that your child doesn't feel made fun of. but most like this kind of game.