• Life With The Littleton's

BEDTIME ROUTINE

How our nightly routine has morphed from nightly bedtime stories and strict time frames to independent sleep patterns and a less structured routine.

Kids can sleep anywhere can't they?


I sure would like to tally up on those sleepless nights and bittersweet moments of holding, rocking and feeding our babies. Pacing circles around the living room in the wee hours of the morning while the whole world is sleeping, in hopes to squeeze in just one or two more hours of shut eye before the morning 'wake up call' approaches.


Those toddler years of transitioning our growing babes from their crib to a big kid bed. Knowing they will wake up on the floor a time or two or find their way to the middle of your bed during the night while you're sleeping, all to be kicked and smacked in face a million times and wake up the next day in a foggy, groggy haze.


Kids will find any tactic to prolong the act of sleep. Sometimes those days seem far off in far away life chapters yet, we are still living presently in the midst of bedtime challenges, just in different ways.



We have the text book sleepers. Literally you could open a book and this child was right on track to what was expected all thru the ages.


Spawned one sleeper (or lack-of-sleeper) who didn't sleep through the night until they were 3 years old. Yes...three years old. I know, right?


Are you serious?


Yeah, we remember it clearly!


Watching Disney House Club House and playing games at 3:30 a.m. until the time we had to get and go to work, that made for some great memories! Come to find out this sparky little ginger was getting so much stage 3 REM sleep as an infant and toddler, that she just didn't require the normal amount of sleep most babies would need! Lucky us!


They say Gingers have super powers! I'd totally believe it!


(And yes, we tried everything and even took all sorts of advice and nothing worked long term. #Supergirl That being said, she is the most go-with-the-flow, easy going, life of the party and sleeps normally now).


Ahhh...the colic screaming child who would sleep maybe 20 minutes at a time and was up all night long for months. We ended up getting a portable bassinet and this child would sleep in our Master bedroom/bathroom with the ceiling fan on for the soothing white noise. We could maybe squeeze in an hour of sleep at a time. {ugh}! This lasted until he was about 8 months old. I kid you not, this was part of the reason we were 'so done' having more babies.


Let's talk adoption transitions.



Riah was 5 when we brought her home from Ukraine. Roman was 3 1/2.


If you're not familiar with Eastern Europe boarding homes, otherwise known as orphanages, they do not replicate a family home setting. It's very common for multiple beds, bunk beds and cribs to line the walls and rows throughout rooms.


The first few nights in Ukraine were daunting. We didn't know what to expect but, it was nothing close to what we had imagined. Riah was up all night nervously exploring our little Ukraine apartment; wanting to wash anything she could find in drawers and lids off of food containers that were thrown away. Bed wetting, hyper and literally, non-stop chatter.


We've never met a child who talked as much as her and she could go for hours.


Roman didn't want to sleep in a bed. He stood by the apartment bedroom door and shook his little head 'no', not knowing what to do. We never did get to see his sleeping quarters in the orphanage, only in the hallway was as far as we could go but, I can tell you the upstairs of his orphanage was eerily quiet and hauntingly stark. What we do know is he was kept with the infants since he was mute and non-verbal at the time of referral.


After we convinced him to climb into bed that first night (it took alot of convincing), he closed his eyes and began harshly thrashing. Back and forth so much that the bed shook! Instantly startled, I called for Trevor in sheer panic, assuming he was having a convulsion or seizure of some sort!


Why didn't they tell us this child had seizures!


It was late and exhaustion was an understatement at that point but, as our heads cleared and panic subsided I remembered that in our training we read about "self soothe rocking". This trait stems from years of neglect, being left alone for hours in a crib and not being held as an infant. I can tell you that self sooth rocking in text form is nothing like what it looks like in real life.


So now what?


The journey home was the biggest challenge. If you've ever watched the welcome home videos where the adoptive families arrive at the airport and they come down the escalator with tears streaming down their face. It's not because they are so over joyed...it's because their every last nerve is frayed and severed and sleep is something they haven't experienced in days.


We ended up giving them both an adult sleep aid after two hours into our international flight because 45 minutes of screaming on the runway and 100 trips to the bathroom on an international flight called for desperate measures.


So innocent when sleeping...

We arrived home and began the coccooning phase. The immediate bonding stage of adoption.


Just like when you have an infant that requires so much parental attention to create 'normal' sleep patterns, it was no different when we brought Riah and Roman home.


Roman didn't want touched, held, coddled or soothed and he didn't want to go to bed. It took a few weeks before there were moments he would fall asleep beside or on someone and when that happened it was such a huge miracle and milestone. He had an instant bond with Brielle. She was the first of his new siblings that he trusted and began to show love towards.



Riah had so much bound up energy and anxiety that we resorted to using melatonin for 6-8 weeks and then finally weaned her off until she could easily go to sleep on her own with little trouble. It was so common for her to wake up at two in the morning, turn on the lights and just start playing with toys or waking the other kids up. This only made everyone even more irritable and cranky the next day.


One of the first few nights in Ukraine with Miss Sofia-Kate

Soon after bringing Miss Sofia home this past year, the first night out of the orphanage, we realized she too, harshly rocked. We still have a long road of healing to happen with our rocking kiddos. Although we have seen progress, the trait is so engrained in their muscle memory it just takes time.


If we don't braid Sofia's hair at night before bed, she will wake up with hair so knotted it takes some work to get it straightened. This is a nightly trait. Years of neglect, not being held and left in a crib to self soothe when nature tells a child when they cry, they should be nurtured, cuddled and loved.


After gaining trust, security and comfort with our (adopted kiddos) we somewhat morphed into the Independent bedtimes without really even realizing it.

Independent Bedtimes


Some nights it's mandatory bedtime (Usually 8:30 p.m.).

Peace out, stick-a-fork-in-us-we-are-done. Seriously, no more words; no more talking.


{Always so much talking}.

We have spent many hours training and transitioning our kiddos in the beginning of the transition striving for somewhat of normal sleep patterns; endearing nightly bedtime stories, cuddles and back rubs. However at this point in life and where we have all adjusted it just exponentially extends the routine.


Yes we have done that for long periods of time but the goal is, raising independent little humans who will become self sufficient youth and young adults.


Don't forget the nightly ailment's and sip of water request and one last trip to the bathroom...{times 6}! Because the little ones all share rooms, all it takes is one child to start the domino effect of postponing bedtime and before you know it, an hour goes by.


"Are freaking serious. . . ya'll are still up?" {Mom: every night}.


This is what works for us at the phase we are in presently.


Some of our kids go to bed earlier than others. Because they need to for emotional and mental reasons. Their capacity to comprehend and process can still wear them out; making them cranky and beyond irritable.


We have a few night owls who function fine on less sleep and making them go to bed too early just turns them into gremlins. So, finding quite time and winding down is totally acceptable.


Child #9 is a gypsy soul sleeper! She may sleep in random places or request 'camping out' in someone's room on a nightly basis. Yes she has a bed of her own, she just likes companionship, cuddles and spawned her Daddy's night-owl DNA. She has spent far too many nights in our room however she's our most independent child out of all six little ones so, we pick our battles.

Good Night



It's bitter sweet watching them grown and need you less in some areas but as parents, raising independent little humans, shouldn't this be the goal of every parent?


And in all honesty, we are convinced the kids have a little conspiracy going against us once we say "It's bedtime" because we are SO outnumbered.


We give hugs and kisses and say our 'I love you's' and tell them goodnight downstairs and then send them upstairs as they attempt to put themselves to bed at this point. It's a bit chaotic and unorganized but it is interesting to see them start to take leadership and roles in the process.


As long as they are in their rooms and quiet, they can fall asleep on their own. Read a book, talk, some may watch a movie until they fall asleep and a few are out cold the second their head hits the pillow.


This has helped curve some of our nightly requests and keeps the bedtime routine on a more realistic timeframe. (Minus the gypsy soul sleeper of course).


I'm telling you, kids will suck you dry of every last breath and ounce of energy at 9:00 p.m. because they can!


Once the little ones are in bed, we get extra one-on-one time to converse with the teens. They get our full attention without interruptions. We talk life, school, grades, goals, hopes, dreams etc. Some of our greatest conversations with the teens have happened when our house is quiet and still in the late hours of the evening.


Have you ever wondered where kids come up such requests just to get out of going to bed?


What's the BEST excuse your

child has given you to prolong bedtime?


Here's a few we have heard from our kids.
  1. I don't remember how to sleep.

  2. I had a splinter one time on my finger and I think it's coming back...I need a bandage.

  3. What if I have an itch when I'm sleeping and I can't scratch it?

  4. I hear my breathing when I lay down.

  5. Are you sure children all over the world sleep?

  6. Can tomorrow be my birthday? Because I don't want to wait for a long time. Can I make my birthday list?

  7. I only took 2 sips of water and my mouth needs to take another one.

Literally as I'm typing: {child comes back downstairs after being sent to bed}, "I think my arm feels squishy, you need to feel it..."


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