I'll preface this with a brief intro...
I've got 2 kids-DS almost 4 & DD 19mo. I have been a "hard-core" AP parent all along. From day 1-BFing, co-sleeping, GDing, CDing, BWing, HSing...you name it. Both kids have been nursed, rocked, held, worn, sung to, and/or cuddled to sleep for every nightime, and every nap since birth. Since DD was born, we have adopted the following sleep arrangements just out of basic necessity: DS sleeps with DH in the masterbedroom, while DD sleeps with me in the guest bed. This works out ok. DH and I both love the cuddle time with the kids. DS now falls asleep pretty quickly (usually w/in 15 mins) for DH, but DD still takes an hour or more usually (DS was like this too when he was younger). We have a bedtime rountine:shortly after dinner (usually around 7pm) we (me and the kids) or just the kids, take a bath. Then PJs, storytime, and bedtime. We are usually in bed by 7:45, lights out 8:15. My problem is twofold:
1-when DH is home, this means he's done with bedtime by 8:30, and has the evening to himself. I on the other hand am rarely out before 10. Usually by the time DD falls asleep, it's too late and I'm too tired to get up and do anything. But if I do manage to pull myself out of bed, DH expects me to spend some time with him, and I get zero time to myself. Even if it weren't for DH's expectations, it's still pretty late, and after dishes, laundry, picking up toys, what have you, again, zero time for myself. So I am really resenting DH and the kids (and specifically DD) for not going to sleep earlier/faster/easier (which obviously doesn't make for a good connection/good AP mom attitude.)
Problem 2 (which is the catalyst for this post-which is turning into quite a book, so thank you if you are still with me) is that often, DH is not home for bedtime. By often I mean he's usually deployed for 1-2 weeks at a time every month or every other month. And even when he is here, often times he has work or Bible study group. So he's gone just often enough to make it impossible to keep the kids on a true bedtime routine.
So I do the bedtime routine exactly the same as if DH is here, but when it's time for lights out, instead of taking DD and going to the other room, I stay in the masterbed with both kids. Which just turns into chaos every night. I try singing, humming, gentle touching, carressing, etc. But it never works, b/c this is what happens every single night: DD wants to nurse, so I have to lie on my side to nurse her, which then sets DS into tears b/c he wants me to cuddle him from the front. He is not content with my arm, or cuddling against my back. I even try lying basically on my back, with my nipple practically getting ripped off by DD so I can sort of hold DS. But this puts my back into spasms, my boob is killing me...and it still isn't even good enough!
DD starts freaking out b/c I won't give her the other boob, and DS is freaking out b/c I'm not holding him tight enough, and both kids are getting angry b/c the other is too close/touching them, whatever. UUUGGGHGHHHH! So I end up yelling at both kids, and basically threatening them to just shut up and be quiet, and go to sleep. (Not the way I want my kids to go to sleep obviously) This is the only time the kids show any type of sibling rivalry. But it's so ugly, I just can't take it. This is NOT working. I am ready to give up nursing to sleep and co-sleeping completely.
So tonight I had had it. At 9:30 (an hour and a half after lights out) I got up and walked out, and shut the door. Of course, both kids immediately lost it-screaming at the top of their lungs, completely freaking out. They got up and went to the door and started pounding on it. I had to put DS back into the big bed several times, told him to shut up several times (no-I'm not proud of this). Finally he just laid down quietly and went to sleep. (but I know emotionally he was not quiet-so this is not a success obviously) DD-same thing, I had to put her back into the guest bed several times, kicking and screaming, until finally she stopped crying and went to sleep as well.
I feel like a terrible parent. I vowed I would never treat my kids like this. But how is one person supposed to nurture their kids to sleep when they are both fighting the entire time?
Updated to add: So I talked to DH about it, and suggested that we get bunk beds for the spare room (DS loves the top bunk), so DS could sleep on the top bunk, and DD on the bottom bunk, and I would just put them to bed like the rest of the world, with a hug and a kiss, (and if need be a repeat of tonight until they get it), so that the routine could be the same, whether DH was here or not.
But talking to him was no help at all. He said that I was stressed and overreacting, and taking it out on him and the kids. He said that I just need to tell DS that he needs to be a big boy and take care of the bed for daddy while I put DD to sleep, and then I would come and cuddle with him once she falls asleep. The problem with that, is I've tried it. He WON'T stay in his bed alone while I'm in the other room with DD (nor do I think he should have to be unattended for over an hour every night). He wants to come in with me and DD-and then the problems have just moved to the smaller bed.
HELP! Now I don't even have DH on my side. Am I the only mom in the world who is done with co-sleeping when DH wants it to continue?