Who's In Charge Here?

The other night, during one of our now typical epic bedtime failures, I started laughing so hard at the scene in front of me, thinking about Super Nanny – I think, at least, it’s her that says this — looking at me and my husband and asking with great disdain, “Who’s in charge here?” The girls were running wild, jumping on their floor beds, throwing themselves against the wall, tossing their Mr. Potato Head parts down the stairs, strangling each other and frantically rocking the large rocking chair while yelling, “Rock! Rock! Rock!!!” It was 9pm and nobody was going to sleep any time soon.

You see, I am a little overwhelmed. Lots of traveling + moving into a new house + a new clingy phase = absolute mayhem around here most days and nights. My girls refuse to sit in their new high chairs or sit down in the bath. They demand me and my lap constantly. They have suddenly begun waking every four hours screaming for bottles that just a month ago were almost completely eliminated from our routine. And as of two weeks ago, the only way I can get them to go sleep is to lie down with one on either side of me and let them flop around for an hour while they slowly settle themselves. I won’t even discuss naps, which occur only while wasting endless gallons of gas in the car.

How did I get here?

After losing a key piece of one crib during our recent move, I took it as a sign (brilliant!) and made a rash decision to abandon the cribs entirely (my girls are 19 months old) and transition to floor beds. Yes, yes, I know: all the HDYDI ladies have strongly recommended against beginning this transition too early. But I liked the Montessori-inspired floor bed idea, and I figured that having the beds to play on during the day would be a treat.

I also figured that giving them a bottle of milk at 6am when they woke would yield two additional hours of sleep for them and me in the morning. Though it worked for two days, my excellent idea has since backfired royally, with the 6am bottle slowly creeping back toward 2am, and a new round of screams/demands for “Babas” occurring at 6:30am. Of course, full wakefulness follows, and I’m now getting far less sleep than I got five months ago. As for their complete refusal to sit in the bath or high chairs and their propensity to hurt/attempt to murder each other every 15 minutes, I am blaming my 18-months-is-the-new-terrible-twos theory.

I know we need to institute some order and calm in our family. I know because I have cried three nights in a row and have poured myself increasingly larger glasses of wine each night after their long protracted bedtime. I know because my husband and I are sniping at each other like we did in those first sleep-deprived weeks/months of their infancy.

I know I need to wean them from their bottles and get them to stop demanding milk meals during the night. I know I need to re-Ferberize them (we did it with great success at 14 months). I know I need to figure out what in the hell I’m doing about their sleeping situation, and commit to these floor beds or find/buy the missing crib part and revert back to cribs.

I pride myself on being a laid-back mom, but somehow in the last few months my relaxed attitude has not served me well. I need to pick my battles and fix something, because many things in this situation are broken.

I think I’m going to start by working on reducing the amount of milk they drink during the night. Baby steps! And I’ll continue to enjoy liberal pours of red wine in the evening and that really great chocolate and tell myself that this, too shall pass. One day I’ll be in charge again!

So how do you all right the ship when it’s gone off course? How do you control the chaos and prevent it from controlling you?

6 thoughts on “Who's In Charge Here?

  1. *Update*

    (I wrote the above post a few days ago).

    I’ve worked on slowly moving the bottles back out of the night time like Ferber recommends, and have been diluting the milk with increasing amounts of water. It so far appears to be working — we went from 8:30pm to 4:30am without any requests for milk last night. Baby steps!

  2. Glad that things are getting better!
    My boys, at 14 months, are still nursing at night and I keep thinking that I should come up with a plan on how I’ll wean them. I run a fine line between organized routine and controlled chaos.
    I don’t know about others but I think this second year is going to be a lot tougher than the first year!!!

  3. Ashley, I weaned my girls right around 14 months. My supply was pretty low and they weren’t nursing much at any meal (day or night) so I started by just staying up and holding and comforting them for several nights in a big arm chair we had in their room. I spaced out the nursings during that time, adding 30 minutes between feedings each night, and then when we were ready to do no nursings at night, they slept with their dad in our bed while I slept on the couch. I think it took about 3 nights.

  4. Good luck with the transition. Sometimes things get crazy before they get better. Right now, we’re back to bedtime chaos as they take a longer time to settle. They are still making noise in the room now – over an hour after bedtime. Hang in there! Maybe take turns going for a walk or having a shower when it gets crazy and let Dad have a turn supervising them.

  5. I’m such a control freak about bedtime that I have never “let the ship go off course”. I knew I could not handle it going “off course” so we have not “gone there” and I just will not mess with bedtime, no matter WHAT it takes. Its OK to be a laid back mom, but regarding some things, you must make the rules and take a stand. Your kids will test you and they know how far you will go. If you establish the limits and the rules about bedtime they will comply, but you MUST be “the enforcer” and they must know you mean business, or they will play you for all its worth. And if you let them win, bedtime will be a nightmare for months to come (trust me, this is WAY harder with older toddlers than with young toddlers & babies, so try not to let it get to that point). Good luck and remember to pick your battles. But if you don’t make the rules, they won’t comply and you’ll probably regret it.

  6. And I will add that switching to beds means that bedtime will be more chaotic, that is inevitable. But I planned ahead by having strategies in place to deal with their craziness and I saw it coming! My boys knew the bedtime rules and knew what would be tolerated. The thing is, kids will be in charge (if you let them) and will rule your house (if you let them) and will take over your evenings (if you let them) and will disrupt your sleep (if you let them). I learned this the hard way with my older son and did not repeat the mistake with my twins! As an older mom, I just didn’t have the patience or energy to put up with their nonsense, bottom line, and they knew it (thats they key).
    My boys share a room and at age 3 we switched to beds. I would sit outside their door and when they got up playing and acting crazy I would be ready for it (sitting outside their door) and would march in there repeating the expectation to “stay in bed!” in a strict no -nonsense way. I just wasn’t up to playing games about it, so at my house that’s why I am the drill seargant of bedtime. I feel strongly about this so excuse all the lenghty comment!

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