Bedtime struggles


What can I say. It’s starting to wear me out. Or, not starting, it has worn me out for quite some time. The nights have become a situation where my fears have taken control, and my reasoning has lost the battle. I look at every bedtime moment with distress, and I think of it constantly before I begin the routines of putting my youngest son to bed. He fears the monsters under the bed, I fear the monster on top of it. Sorry to call him a monster, because he isn’t, but I start to sweat only from the thought of getting him into bed. I have my children every second week, and I can’t wait to have them with me. But I fear the evenings with my youngest.

What I believe is “normal” for a 7-year-old:

  1. Prepare for bed by starting the evening meal.
  2. Have some argument on ending activities. But the child understands and listens to you in the end
  3. Eat and drink the evening meal
  4. Say goodnight to everybody
  5. Having some struggles getting them to the bathroom, but they listen in the end
  6. Brushing their teeth
  7. Climbing into bed
  8. Reading a book
  9. Having some discussions about today and tomorrow
  10. Saying goodnight (if ok go to 13)
  11. On special days (like christmas evening) having trouble sleeping
  12. Say goodnight again (if necessary go back to 11)
  13. End

How far of am I??

What my evenings sometimes look like when I put him to bed:

  1. Start breathing and prepare (self-awareness)
  2. Prepare a meal and tell him its food soon
  3. He ends activity and eats up (quite the angel actually)
  4. He want’s to continue his activity but I say “no, it’s time for bed”
  5. He refuses to come and I have to convince him
  6. After a while he goes himself, or I carry him. Still not the worst part, and I can live with it
  7. Brushing teeth with dancing moves, jumping on and off the toilet, leaving, coming back, sitting, standing. Me breathing, trying to tell him to stand still while I brush
  8. He walks on his hands with me holding his feet into the bedroom because it’s the best time of his day. I won’t deny him, because then I would use 20 minutes to get him into other thoughts, and I see the joy in his eyes
  9. So, the monster on the bed arises. He starts out with some backflips (yes he can do them), and runs back and forward on the bed. Me trying to be calm tells him to put his head on the pillow.
  10. He stands on his head telling me that he won’t go to sleep
  11. We try to read a book. He’s become quite the listener, and the only thing suffering is my lap and belly while he jumps up and down while I’m reading.
  12. So, back to the “head-on-the-pillow” situation. No response, so I leave. He shouts me back (if I don’t come he will start hitting the walls and destroy things)
  13. So, I sit with him again trying to calm him down. He wants to talk about stuff. He needs answers, I tell him he must wait. We use about 10-20 minutes to agree that he have to wait till tomorrow because he has to sleep.
  14. Head finally on the pillow, so I go out and say good night. Going up to my other son that’s awaiting my attention.
  15. I hear shouting from the youngest. He has more questions. Sometimes the gymnast is back, sometime he has questions that he needs answers to. If I don’t go down, he will start to act out. Another 10-20 minutes
  16. I go up to my eldest son to be with him for the final minutes of his evening
  17. Step 15-16, again
  18. Step 15-16, again
  19. 1-2 hours later I start putting the eldest to sleep. Didn’t even get the time to properly talk to him
  20. Breath and sit down (self-awareness)

It’s difficult to know if I have given an understandable impression. But basically I use 1-2 hours, or more, to get him to sleep. I have sometimes put him to bed at 8 o’clock, and he has fallen to sleep 11:30 o’clock. If I have made the impression that I’m always able to keep calm, I have misled you. I have moments where my anger takes the best of me and frustration takes over. I yell at him and I leave the room in anger. I try to tell him 1. calmly, 2. firmly, 3. sometimes with anger “GO-TO-BED-AND-GOOD-NIGHT!!” I know that the nights where we use the longest time, is the nights where I have lost my temper, so I have understood that I need to keep calm. It’s the best way in the end. But when will he stop this acting out? Is it something I do wrong? Sometimes it doesn’t matter what the reason is. I just want it to stop and give up.

If anyone has an experience comparable I would like to hear. I need some suggestion here.

Thank you 🙂

11 thoughts on “Bedtime struggles

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  1. Omigoodness yes I have definitely been there! To be honest, I struggle most nights with patience at our bedtime routine. My son is also 7 and has ADHD. It has taken me SO long to come up with a bedtime routine that sort of works for us.

    The first step for me was consistency and rules. We actually had rules of bedtime that we would repeat. It seems a bit silly but I would ask him are you following the rules? What are the rules? He knew what was expected. I don’t have to do this anymore but I do often have to ask if he’s doing what he’s supposed to be doing. Another thing is he loves, loves to read and if he can’t settle down I start taking the number of books or chapters we read away one by one. We still of course struggle sometimes but it is a lot better than it used to be.

    I don’t know if any of this helps but hang in there, you’re doing great!


    1. It’s good to hear other peoples experiences on this 🙂
      I have not tried rules yet. Do you have an example that I can use? I have sort of tried to be consistent and predictable so that he would adjust to the routines. So far not so good…

      My son also enjoy reading and I will try out your method.

      Thank you so much for sharing, and for the advice and comment 🙂


      1. I don’t remember them exactly but off the top of my head for us one could be when I say it’s bedtime:
        1. No more playing with toys
        2. No more running around

        Then if the rules are broken I would say are you following the rules of bedtime? Then if not, I would have him repeat what those rules are. I know we must have gone over the rules of bedtime 100 times before he really started mostly following them. You can even have him help you come up with them so he feels included to an extent.

        We also did a routine which I still stick to. Which is when I say it’s bedtime it’s time to: pick up your toys, take a shower, get dressed, brush teeth, settle down to read a book/talk about your day. In that order. You can even put in the rules that he’s only allowed to ask a certain amount of questions.

        My son knew what the rules were and I referred back to them very often and I tried to be as consistent as possible and eventually he stopped pushing the boundaries.

        If you decide to give it a try just remember that it won’t be a cure overnight. I had to stick to it for quite a while before I saw real results. Good Luck!


      2. I guess the rules here are more unwritten. We go through the same procedure every day, but I don’t nessessarily adress them to him. I will try to identify some ground rules together with him and write them down (bad memory 🙂 ).
        Thank you for your reply and recommendation 🙂


      3. I’m the queen of having a bad memory! Which got me to thinking that my son has a bad memory too and it takes a lot more time and repeating and getting past his impulses to get it into his long term memory. I hope this helps!


  2. Not sure where the rest of my post went all that seems to have come up on this is the words “They do different styles we got a space theme” lol I did write out a much longer post saying about how we can struggle with bed times too but like Alicia in the comments above reading seems to help if they like books I guess it keeps their focus in a more calm yet engaging approach? I’m no expert obviously though lol, but the space theme I talked about was a tent which my son loves which is an attachment over his bed and we lay at bedtime and look at the stars and moons etc on it and everyone in the family has their own star lol as we point and say that’s daddies star and nannies star etc just didn’t know if you thought maybe it was worth a go with your boy I know he is a few years older than mine … I believe they are called “Dream Tents” and Smyths Toy Store sell them in the UK here … I would send a link but I think that’s what wiped my post off last time haha copyright laws I’m guessing


    1. Computers and tablets doesn’t always listen them either lol.
      I see that the dream tent could be an idea to try out. At least as something to draw the attention against something positive. If the tent doesn’t apply to him, maybe there are similar solutions that could work for him. Worth a try.
      You say you are no expert. I’m not either. Just have to try, and sometimes we find something that is of help. Thanks for your valuable reply, I will definatly try it out


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