We are wrapping up the Overtired Series! When we started the series, we first talked about 10 typical signs of littles being overtired. They were identified as follows:
1. Extreme hyperactivity
2. Behaving irritably or crabby
3. Constant hunger
4. Physical cues
6. Increased resistance to falling asleep
8. Needing constant stimulation
9. Easily awaken
10. Early wake-ups
I don't need to guess that some or many of these signs sound familiar to you. These signs are what makes bedtime and naptimes a dreaded event in your home, because it never seems to get better and you find yourself scrambling to think of anything that will get your child to just stay IN bed. So that there is a chance that they will fall asleep before it's time for YOU to go to bed. Instead of enjoying adult time in the evenings; a glass of wine, a grown-up show, or adult conversation with your partner, you are the unwilling ringmaster of a circus where your child is the lion tamer, tightrope walker, juggler, and clown all rolled in one. I don't know about you, but that is not my idea of fun.
Taking the Challenge
Kids being overtired is a tough challenge to overcome. They don't exhibit typical tired signs like adults do so it is not always easy to see that a hyperactive, seemingly disobedient child in the evenings is actually a tired one that needs to go to bed immediately. It is also a tough challenge in that once you are embroiled in a battle with an overtired child at bedtime, it feels really hard to not just cave and give what they are asking for, because for the love of Pete, they just need to go to bed!
While it is incredibly challenging and will take nearly every bit of patience you possess, it is so important not to feed into their demands. Don't keep trying something new to get them to go to bed that particular night. Stay predictable, stay boring, stay firm. Children thrive on boundaries, rules, and expectations when they are clear and held to, despite the fact that they continuously try to push the line.
Holding The Line
But here is what they are actually doing when they are pushing those buttons of yours... they're trying to make sure that their world hasn't changed without them knowing about it. That everything is the same and as it should be. That Mom and Dad still have the same expectations for them. It's not a conscious effort on their part to push the lines, but rather a sub-conscious, developmental phase that is usually very temporary, so long as the line doesn't budge. In other words, this is normal. Very, utterly, frustratingly normal.
It is important to take an objective look at what's happening in the evenings in your home to see if there are changes to be made. Over the course of the series, I have shared several tips that you can implement into your daily schedule and the routines that occur before bed and naptime. These included adjusting your child's schedule so they are getting to bed at an age-appropriate time, having a consistent routine that never changes before putting them to bed, engaging in quiet activities in the evenings, and so on. All of these suggestions help cue to the child that it is time to get ready for sleep, consciously and unconsciously. It also reassures them that their world hasn't changed and things are still the same.
By staying consistent, outlasting your child, breaking the overtired cycle, and helping your child to be an independent sleeper, means that they are gaining life-long, healthy sleep skills that carry over into their future developmental years.
And it also means that you get to enjoy that adult beverage and your favorite show in the evenings with your partner. Kid free. That's what adulting is really about.
I am a Pediatric Sleep Consultant who works with families to help them resolve their littles' sleep issues. As a mom of two littles herself, Katie has walked in the shoes of her clients and is passionate about helping them re-discover peaceful sleeps in their own homes.