The first step to making a change is changing something! So envision what you would like your son's bedtime to be and slowly transition him towards that. Don't expect him to accept an abrupt change as anything other then strange.
With that said, he may still hunger for a lot of Mommy-time because he is at school all day (?). The children I have babysat always nap differently for me then for their parents so please don't compare the two other then its 'possible'. The rocking to sleep as the bedtime thing will likely only end gradually when options are repetitively and gently introduced. See the first, second, third, a few weeks of time as you try a new thing as practice for the both of you, not as failures.
Respond calmly and lovingly and at one point he will see _______ as an option for falling to sleep as much as rocking. (I assume you are no longer breastfeeding or I would touch on that, of course let me know if you are)
I do think an 80% 'success' rate to be pretty good regardless of parenting style! No child is a perfect bedtime robot!
It will change! I don't see it as giving up if you let him stay up later if bedtime isn't going as planned that night. We still put off bedtime an hour or so on occasional days for both the boys (4yrs and 15mo)if they slept in or got a extra long nap ....
Two things.. Do you have a local group? and have you look at this group, a really neat idea. http://www.co-abode.com/aboutus.php
"CoAbode is an attempt to provide what single moms want. We need to connect. We want to verbalize the loneliness, the fear and frustration. Through sharing our experiences we can educate each other on how to survive a broken marriage, and how to rise to the challenge of caring for our children alone. We can 'lighten our load' by helping each other out, by pooling our resources and providing each other with an understanding ear."
My mother who is a social worker for battered women and children and single mother herself let me know of the link, just an idea!
I rocked my son to sleep until just a few months ago. (He's 2 3/4 yrs) He just up and said one day "no rocking" and he says it every night now. He also no longer wants books read to him at bedtime. I was worried about our bedtime routine as we are now expecting another baby - how do you rock two????! - but it seems to be taking care of itself. I still carry Sam to bed (34 lbs and I'm 20 weeks pregnant) and I'm hoping he'll take care of that issue on his own, too!
I remember spending a great deal of time worrying about how to get him to drink milk out of a cup - he had bottles from 4 mo (I pumped at work - yuck) and hated the idea of milk in anything but a bottle. Then one day he just did it. No special prompting did the trick, no transitioning attempts worked, he just was ready and did it. I guess I'm pretty lucky, but I also feel that my worry about the whole thing added fuel to his fire. When I relaxed and let him lead, he stepped up.
Now I'm into the "planting ideas" method - "When you're feeling big enough, you won't need me to carry you to bed anymore."
I suppose our family could just be unique and these were freak things, but I doubt it. Somehow, things just work out...
what would happen if you just laid down in bed next to him? i've always gotten my kids to sleep that way. then, we're they're asleep and i still had the energy to do something, i could get up, or just go to sleep w/them right there.