Monday, August 23, 2010

Winning by Giving In

I gave up last night. And it was a big win.

We had been trying not to start co-sleeping with Petunia. Sure, we had coslept (for part of the night) with Pumpkin, but that started when she was a lot older than Petunia is now, and didn't really last that long.

But Petunia's been waking up a lot lately, and I suspected it was because she was lonely and wanted to make sure we were still around. If you think about it, a baby really should freak out a bit when she wakes up and there is no grown up around. For most of our evolutionary history, that would have been a very bad thing, indeed. So the baby would cry, and Mom would come running and everyone would be happy.

Whether or not it is a reasonable behavior from an evolutionary standpoint, this was driving me slowly insane. Try as I might, I couldn't figure out how to arrange the night so that I could get enough sleep- i.e., at least four hours of solid, uninterrupted sleep.

So, last night, I cracked. Hubby has been resisting my idea of bringing Petunia in to sleep with us after her first wake up. He was (and is) convinced that this will start a bad habit that we will really struggle to break. But last night, I was so tired my eyes itched. I had been grumpy, short-tempered, and frankly a bit weepy all day. The status quo had to change. I didn't (and don't) care about 6 months from now- I need sleep now! So I put my foot down and insisted that we try cosleeping. I went to bed early, and at about 12:30, Hubby brought Petunia in to me. I nursed her, and laid her down next to me. She sighed happily and went back to sleep. Hubby shrugged at this and got into bed, and was soon asleep, too. I fell asleep and we all slept soundly until 4:45, when Petunia woke up. Hubby slept through this, but I nursed her again, and we snuggled back in until 6:30, when Pumpkin came running in looking for her little sister.

We're definitely trying this again tonight. Even Hubby had to admit that it was the best sleep we'd gotten in awhile.

So now I'm wondering if I should give in on the other parenting problem we're struggling with right now- namely, Pumpkin's potty issues. She almost never has a poop accident, and if she does, it is a true accident and she is really upset by it. But she has pee accidents daily. She does fine at day care most days (although she has often just had an accident when I arrive), but she almost always has at least one accident after we get home, and weekends are just a disaster.

I'm at wit's end on this. I can't figure out why she is doing it (looking for attention? asserting her control? too caught up in what she's doing and doesn't want to stop?) and nothing we've tried seems to help. We've tried various rewards schemes (each one works for a day or two and then she stops caring). We've tried a timer (she never wants to go when the timer goes off). We've tried withholding treats (no Dora until you go potty just results in a "I don't WANT to watch Dora!") We've tried ignoring the potty thing altogether and letting her go when she wants (almost never).

I'm out of ideas. So I'm wondering, should I just give up for awhile? Should i just put her back in pull ups at home for a few weeks? Or should I just keep changing her clothes (and doing lots of laundry)? Opinions? Ideas?


  1. Re: Petunia, good for you. I start with the assumption that I will sleep better with them than without, and then when it starts to be the other way around I change.

    Re: Pumpkin...sounds kind of power struggle-y for me if she is fine at day care but a mess at home. Maybe put the power in her hands, have a discussion about it. "What do you think we can do about it? How would you like to be reminded to go? How often should you try?" etc.

    Would she even want pullups again? Miss M didn't have too many accidents but was afraid of pooping on the toilet for several weeks...yet REFUSED to put on a diaper again. So, you've been warned :)

  2. Good on you for giving in on the co-sleeping. I did exactly that with the boys when they were 11 months old and my husband was on extended field work. I felt I didn't have much choice, but it worked out really well.

    Not sure what to suggest re potty. I would be inclined to give up on rewards and timers and just let her come to it on her own, while you deal with the wet clothes. Maybe if see it more as a cleaning issue than a parenting issue it will be less stressful? One of my boys persisted in pee accidents for ages around the time we were trying to start them at Montessori (which requires potty training) at 2.5. Eventually I just said we'd try him anyway, and he never had an accident at school and immediately stopped having them at home. I think he could sense that I 'wanted' him to not have accidents and was just being stubborn.

  3. paola4:32 AM

    I have no idea if any of this would work, but here goes.

    Firstly, try to give as little a damn as possible during 'accidents'. If this is her way of exerting control, getting attention whatever, getting pissed off will only show her she is winning and maybe even encourage her to continue.

    Secondly, as @zed said, cut out the prizes. Again this is only showing her that you indeed give a toss that she is wet (of course you do, but you don't want her to know that).

    Thirdly, if possible, get her to clean up her own accidents. This really is no big deal. Zoe cleans up her spit (yes, charming I know), and it helps her to realise the work Mum and Dad have to do when she doesn't hold her bladder.

    Finally, when the moment is right, challenge her by telling her when she finally stops having accidents you will let her try sleeping without a nappy at all. Start with npas ( if you haven't tried already).

    Just one thing. Zoe always had accidents at critical moments of her develoment. They always went hand in hand with tantrums, sleep problems. Who knows, it may only be due to her getting close to 3.5

    Good luck

  4. Dillo, who is FOUR, pees in his pants all the dang time. Honestly, he doesn't mind having wet pants (usually it's just a little bit, not a full-on drenching) and he doesn't mind the smell, so when he's busy playing he'd much rather pee a little than deal with the hassle of using the toilet. Right now we leave him bottomless at home as much as possible, since he draws the line at peeing on the floor. This saves us some of the laundry, anyway. At his old school he peed in his pants a lot (Montessori, they were supposed to change themselves). At his new school (traditional public), he's making it through the regular day dry, but having accidents at after school. His sister and her very bossy friend are trying to help him go at afterschool (tell him it's time, walk him to the boy's room, and talk him through the process from the door). This seems to help some, not least because he likes the attention & being fussed over! But he had an accident on the playground yesterday, I think because he didn't want to bother coming in.

    I feel like eventually he'll deal. He knows how; it's a choice, and I can't make him make that choice. At least it's only pee; at this age, Casper had serious poop issues, and that was much worse.

  5. I'm with you on the giving in, especially when it comes to sleep. this is probably an unpopular opinion in this day and age, but I have found that when I just give up pushing something the way I or my hubby wants it to be and figure out what the kid needs, things just go easier.

    So the sleeping thing? Yeah, good for you! Worry about right now, not 6 months from now. We recently tried something new (our Pumpkin falling asleep in our bed), and it gave us relief when we needed it most. I was worried about the whens and hows of transitioning back to her room, but it worked out. When it wasn't working in our room anymore, we went back to bedtimes in her room. And the how was actually a lot easier than I had anticipated. So don't stress about the later change, which could very well be at a better time for change and go smoother than you or your hubby think. Right now, get yourselves some sleep by whatever means possible!

    As for the potty training... I wish I had a brilliant solution, but I'd probably go back to pull ups at home and stop stressing. I swear, they smell our stress about things and it makes them subconsciously aggrevate the stress. Like the way dogs smell fear. Good luck!

  6. I, too, applaud the co-sleeping. I could never have done it any other way. We get/got so much sleep this way and the transition to big bed is easy when they are older.

    re: pee. I agree that it sounds like a power-struggle, stress-issue.
    Keep as carefree about the incident as possible. I would keep her naked (pantless) as much as possible because seeing the wee spray out sends a more immediate message to the kid than just getting wet clothes. I keep tons of cloth diapers around to mop up accidents.

    I also had the kids watch the cat use the litter box a number of times (by casually pointing it out when it was being used in our midst) and praise how smart the cat was to know when he had to go and to run to the box and be so clean by burying his waste. Look what a good smart cat he is!! kind of stuff.

    I don't know if you have a pet or can do it with a friend's pet, but I wonder if that helped inspire my kids to be cool like our cat. Or perhaps they are just unnaturally obsessed with mimicking animals :)

  7. DS has had a couple of peeing regressions. One thing that has helped is making the whole family go pee. Yep, time for everyone to go pee. DH, DS, and I all go to the bathroom. We pee as a family (DH and I do give each other some privacy). This worked better for us then timers because DS hates being left out of everything.

    The other thing that worked, was every time he had an accident, he was immediately whisked off to sit on the toilet. Even when it was clear that the immediate need was over, he was put on the toilet. I think after a while he thought it was easier to just do it in the toilet, since he was going to have to sit there for a while.

    Also, totally agree with trying to be emotionally neutral as possible (although, boy, is that hard - particularly when you know they are perfectly capable of not having accidents).

  8. DS has had a couple of peeing regressions. One thing that has helped is making the whole family go pee. Yep, time for everyone to go pee. DH, DS, and I all go to the bathroom. We pee as a family (DH and I do give each other some privacy). This worked better for us then timers because DS hates being left out of everything.

    The other thing that worked, was every time he had an accident, he was immediately whisked off to sit on the toilet. Even when it was clear that the immediate need was over, he was put on the toilet. I think after a while he thought it was easier to just do it in the toilet, since he was going to have to sit there for a while.

    Also, totally agree with trying to be emotionally neutral as possible (although, boy, is that hard - particularly when you know they are perfectly capable of not having accidents).

  9. Whew, it's not just me! I'm wrestling with a similar sleep issue. My 4 month old is rapidly outgrowing her bassinet, so I've started transitioning her to her crib. First I started with naps, so she could get accustomed to the new arrangement and this has gone very well. This weekend we started letting her sleep in the crib at night. We're off to a shaky start. I've gone from a baby who sleeps through the night to a baby who wakes up 2 times a night. I am hoping things will improve as she is surely going to grow out of the bassinet. If they don't, I am thinking of moving the crib into our bedroom and see if that doesn't help. I hope your sleeping situation works out soon. Good luck.

  10. Hurray for sleep! By any means necessary!

    About the potty training. We seem to keep going through phases of E having lots of accidents. With us it is the opposite, she was mostly ok at home, but having multiple daily accidents at daycare. She never wants to go when it is suggested, but I've been working on the whole "when I wake up in the morning my body usually needs to pee, so I sit on the toilet even if I don't really feel like I need to" and she's finally picking up on it. I also absolutely insist on potty before bed - she doesn't get a story otherwise.

    What about buying training pants? A pair of thick plastic pants to wear over her underwear? Just something to make your life a little easier without going all the way back to diapers. Honestly I'd just put her back in diapers for a bit. You've got a lot on your hands. She may be wanting to be babied a little.

  11. I've read numerous studies (can't find them now) that rate how happy parents are with their sleeping arrangements with little ones. Happiest are "voluntary cosleepers" (people who decide, in advance, that they will cosleep). Next are parents whose kids sleep on their own. Least happy are "reluctant cosleepers" (people who give in to cosleeping out of desperation when nothing else works). Note that it's easy to come up with a LOT of probable factors that would make this pure correlation with no direct causation, but still, worth thinking about.

    I mention it not as a dire warning or anything -- in contrast, we did exactly the same thing. We always hated the thought of cosleeping, but gave in out of desperation when I reached a point of such utter exhaustion that something needed to change. My husband was against it, in part because of the above correlations. So, we agreed to try it for a while, and constantly re-evaluate whether it was working for us, whether we wanted to make another change, etc. Just staying aware that resentment can cause problems, especially if one/both parents are particularly reluctant, has helped a lot.

    Our experience, by the way, was that we brought LL into bed with us when he woke in the night, for a few weeks, and then he magically started sleeping through the night on his own again. Perhaps the weeks of reassurance that we were always nearby was all that he needed.

  12. Thanks for the ideas, everyone. Some more details:

    1. We do try to enforce "we sit on the potty after every accident". That often results in kicking, screaming, and protests of "but there's no pee in me!"

    2. I've tried asking her how she thinks we should solve our problem, and mostly she says that when she feels the pee coming she'll run really fast to the potty. But then she doesn't do that.

    3. You guys are probably right that it has become a power struggle... so how do I defuse that? Going to pull ups was actually my idea for taking the power struggle aspect away.

    Anyway, it is nice to hear that we aren't alone with the pee accidents. That alone, helps.

    On the sleep front.... @Nicky, I'm not at all unhappy to have Petunia in bed with us. I think it is sweet to wake up next to her, and she is not an active sleeper (unlike her older sister), so she doesn't disturb my sleep except when she cries and wants to nurse. But I can see how someone might be unhappy about cosleeping if they really, really didn't want to do it.

    I think the unhappiest parent of all is the one who isn't getting enough sleep... and maybe some of the reluctant cosleepers fall in that category?

    Here's hoping we have the same luck you did!

    @microbiologist XX - see if you can get a copy of the book Bedtiming. It has some very helpful info on when it is easier to make sleep changes and when it is likely to be harder, based on development. 4 months is a hard time, I think, but 6 months is an excellent time. FWIW, we moved Petunia to her crib at 6 months. She still starts the night in her crib, and will do so for the foreseeable future.... hopefully, until she stops waking up in the night!

    Anyway, I summarize the timings in my Baby Development Cheat Sheet (on the right...) but the book has the explanations, and I found that helpful, because I could look for signs that we were done with whatever developmental change was causing problems, and ready to start working on sleep.

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  14. good for you for "giving in" - it's all about survival. f never slept well - even at 3 and a half, most nights she still wakes at least once and needs to know we're near (and she sleeps on a little mattress at the foot of our bed - again, we're just doing what we need to get all of us the most sleep possible). i've read a million sleep books and every issue that's popped up, ultimately, trusting our instincts has worked out the best. good luck and you'll cross the next bridge when you get to it! and good luck with pumpkin... potty training was a year-long odyssey for us but we've made it out on the other side, just barely. i wish you much patience and an extra stash of wipes and clean panties whenever you need them. :)

  15. Now that Tate sleeps most nights all the way through, I actually enjoy the every now and then late night call to his room. He just wants company and it's sweet to cuddle up next to him and fall back asleep. Sleep by any means necessary and yay for you all getting some!

    The potty accidents have got to be frustrating. I think the pull up idea is a good one. We are back in pull ups at night after a couple of wet mornings in a row. Not really his fault, though. I'm the one in charge of his liquid consumption in the evening, sigh...

  16. Give in! Get some co-sleep - doesn't have to be permanent. We co-selpt with DS for ages; now he is in his own bed most nights. Made the big boy bed transition much easier.

    Put the potty training on hold and wait until it no longer feels like a power struggle. I agree with those who have said no more rewards (and don't attempt any quasi-punishments) - they only add to the feeling of a power struggle. If you can make it all seem like her idea, I think that's the ticket for such an intelligent kid. Easier said than done of course.


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