The Great Bedtime Negotiator

I know every parent under the sun can relate to this: the negotiating that goes on to delay bedtime even just by “one more minute”. Last night, we had a negotiating session that ended in a tantrum of epic proportions. It was awesome.

Honestly, I am in awe of 3M’s tantrum’s. They are truly works of art. And I feel bad for her because she ended up with a mommy that is a behavior specialist and is not very sympathetic to tantrums. They do not occur often, but when they do- WOW.

Last night I found 3M in the hallway coloring in her “robot” which takes a lot of “concentrating” and “a bit of time”. When I told 3M it was time for bed, I was met with the first of the negotiations.

“Just 6 more minutes”.

“No, it is time for bed. It is already past bedtime”.

“All I need to do is finish this- I am super fast”.

“3M, it is time for bed- you already had your 5 minutes of play. You need to be in your room in your bed.”

“But I just need to be out here for 11 more minutes.”

“Play time is over- get in your bed.”

“That is NOT part of my PLAN!”

“You can go get in your bed by yourself or I will help you.”

“You are NOT my friend anymore!”

I then lean down to pick her up and get,  “DON’T touch my body!”

Once in her bed commenced the screaming and rolling around like she was going through some sort of exorcism. At one point she stated, “I am NOT tired. I need to go to Mars so I can stay up late!”  Ah, the thoughts of a toddler. LIfe, of course, would be better on Mars.

Pi and I sat there….laughing. Quietly of course, and turning our heads so she could not see, but laughing none the less.

I know- some think I should validate her feelings, engage in some toddlerese and sooth her. But that’s just not our way. Believe me, when she needs comfort we give it. But at this time, on this occasion, this little bundle of out-of-control feelings just needed to be upset for a bit and let this tantrum run its course.  I started talking to her very quietly so she had to be quiet herself to hear me. Lamby in one hand, finger in mouth, tears in eyes, she let me tuck her in her bed. I gave her a kiss goodnight and she nodded sleepily when I said it’s time for sleep.


But then  I see a light under her closed door. I open it up and there she is, up in bed, flashlight in hand, coloring in her robot.

And, here we go….

We have a pretty good bedtime routine and typically she is asleep within 5 minutes of the last book being read. We’ve found that the same routine at night very much helps with getting her calm down and knowing what’s expected of her. Doesn’t mean she isn’t resistive at times, but overall the consistency works. To wind down after dinner, she gets 30 minutes of downstairs play, then it’s up to brush teeth, 3 books read to her by daddy, and then 5 minutes of play on her bed before we come in and say “time for sleep”.

What are your bedtime routines? Any good bedtime negotiation or tantrum stories to share? Would love to hear!



Have a great crazy day!

Click on the pic for my great Hump Day Hook Up reads!

A Mother Life


10 thoughts on “The Great Bedtime Negotiator

  1. Pingback: Who Needs Sleep? | My Special Kind of Crazy

  2. Visiting from Hump Day Hook Up! This post took me back. It wasn’t too long ago (my kiddos are 8 and 11), but bedtime is no longer the negotiation process it used to be. We handled it much the same way you have described. I believe consistency is key. We used to hold our kids to the same routine and bedtime on weekends too for that reason. Now that they’re older they can stay up a bit later on weekends. Keep at it!

    • well, it’s a pot shot. You never really know what you are going to get. We have the routine and since it’s known, it makes things expected and predictable. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t going to be resistance and full on mutiny some nights!
      Thanks for the comment!

  3. She’s a smart one, going by her excuses! My toddler will want to say ‘good night’ to his Dad over and over again when I try to make him sleep. Telling him that he can do it ‘one last time’ usually works, but not always!

  4. We don’t have a bed time routine. I say it’s bed time, and I let them clonk out to the TV or Kindle. Sometimes it’s the living room sofa, and others their own beds. I deal with issues as they come. Some nights they are hungry again, so I make more food. Some nights they are hyper, so I let them play a little longer to wear them out. Some nights they are hyper tired, so I have to just get them to sit still long enough to sleep, which usually a bath helps with that. It just depends.

    I know I sound awful. Someone might of clutched their pearls and gasped reading that. I break all the rules, but this is coming from a history of issues. The oldest is on the autism spectrum. From birth to age 5, she had trouble falling asleep. The second kid did ok to sleep, but the third kid had food allergies. Milk and soy. When she started sleeping 6 hours straight, the first allergist we saw, who didn’t want to test for any allergies, wanted to treat it with antihistamines. I argued profusely with him, but desperate for any solution for my poor baby who was scratching all the time to where she drew blood, I tried it. All it did was keep her up all night. She clonked out like Benadryl for 2 hours, and then was up hyper until about 5 AM. We did the antihistamines for a month because the doctor said it needed time, and even when we stopped, she was locked into that sleep cycle. By the time the two oldest clonked out, the baby was up, and by the time she clonked back out, I had to wake up all 3 to take one or two to school (depending on the year).

    Meanwhile I was sleep deprived beyond sleep deprived. I didn’t sleep for 5 years. I had these kids back to back. My husband comes from a family who thinks I should do all the child rearing, so while he was sleeping 12 hours a night uninterrupted, I was lucky to see 2 hours. It got to a point where normal for me was to be up 3 to 5 days straight and a 4 hour nap in between the 3 to 5 days of wake. I had migraines really bad, with a lot of vomiting. I lost a lot of weight and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get above a size 14 kids until I started sleeping again. I have some neurological problems now that i don’t think I can reverse. I’ve forced the husband into putting his sleep secondary to mine, but I don’t want him to become what I’ve become, so it’s very important now that these 3 kids sleep at the same time every night for at least 6 hours. I don’t care how it happens. I just do what works for us.

    • I didn’t gasp and grasp at my….well, I don’t have pearls….I think I may have been wearing a homemade bead and pipe cleaner necklace…due to the fact that you are “breaking all the rules” (whose rules? my rules? the neighbor’s rules? the judgey parents in your kids class rules?). I gasped and grasped at my pipe cleaner because OH MY GOSH I WANT TO TAKE A NAP FOR YOU!
      I work with all kinds of kids on the spectrum and I know how pervasive sleep issues can be for kids with ASD. You’re doing what you need to do for your kids….and now you need to do what is good for you and you need others to help you so you can do what is good for you. And by all means- do what works. That is what I do- but what works for me (sometimes) may not work for others. Thanks for the comment- puts things in perspective.

  5. I was like a drill sergeant when they were little, now I’m finding Im not so tough even on school nights. But I do try to get them in bed at a reasonable hour. they still need their sleep. Thanks for hooking up to the Hump Day Hook Up

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