Wednesday

Sleep Debacle...

Received Wednesday, May 12, 2010
perspective and opinion I work for a family that has two young girls (ages 2 and 10 months) and I have been with them since the 10 month old was about 3 weeks old. This family has an EXTREMELY dysfunctional "sleep situation" that I am not sure how to approach.

First of all, ALL of them sleep in the same room (Dad, Mom, and girls). Which, if everyone was getting a good night sleep I would have no problem with... But the two year old has NEVER... I repeat, NEVER slept through the night yet (neither has the 10 month old for that matter). She used to sleep in her crib (which is now the baby's place to sleep) and then she moved into Mom and Dad's bed... Then her parents decided to move the guest mattress onto the floor in their room. Anytime I bring up moving her... There is some excuse (She just got done being sick, or when the company leaves, etc.) And I am not forcing this on them... They bring it up ALL THE TIME! So a few days ago I just decided to do it. I moved her "mattress" into what is supposed to be her room and put her down for her nap in there. SHE LOVED IT! She slept for four hours!!! When I left work that day, her parents said they were going to "try" to put her to bed in there... But, when I got to work the next morning they said "she didn't like it" so they just put her to bed in their room... So I was thinking I would find her in her parents bed. Oh no. They moved THE OTHER guest mattress into their room and I found the mattress in her room where I had napped her the day before STILL MADE from when I made it after her nap!!! I am just beyond frustrated. They ask me to try but then they won't. I know ultimately they can have her sleep where ever they want but both the two year old and the 10 month old are clearly lacking sleep EVERYDAY from their sleeping arrangements. It is a vicious cycle of who wakes up who next!!! I am just exhausted from handling over tired, crabby kids all the time! What should I do?!?! HELP!!!

44 comments:

Nanny Sarah said...

OP while I understand your dilemma, this is not your domain. Sure the child slept in her room and LOVED IT when you were there, however it is a completely different situation once she knows the parents are there and will let her sleep w/them. The parent probably work hard and are too tired to deal w/the stress of making new sleep patterns. Sure, in theory children should always sleep in their own beds, in their own rooms...however if they won't then it is a tough battle to enforce and if parents both work outside of the home, they are probably too tired to deal w/it. Eventually the children will sleep on their own, but that will take time and training which the parents don't seem to want to do.
I would be frustrated as well as two cranky kids cannot be that fun, but there is not much you can do at this point.
I would just suck it up..maybe if they are that tired, they will take good naps when you are there.

TC said...

I have sort of the same problem with my charge, she is 4 and still sleeps in her parents bed. They tried bribes but they never followed through. They told her if she slept 5 days in her bed she could have a DVD well she slept in her bed for 4 days and on the 5th day she slept in their bed.....they still gave her the dvd. I had on occasion bribed her with do-nuts if she slept in the bed but I know using food as a reward isn't good so I stopped that. Now it's TV time, if she sleeps in her bed she gets to watch TV in my car, if not we listen to music instead. We just started this week so we shall see if that works.

takishi said...

I agree, it's no use talking to the parents anymore they aren't interested for whatever reason. To make it easier on yourself request if when you are there she can take naps in her own room if and when you can get her to (which from what you say should be most of the time, just be careful to phrase this as to not upset them in any way or make them feel bad for the time they did or did not try.)


then move the matress into her room for naps and back to the parents after nap time.

Boston nanny said...

My charge was 5months when I moved him into his own bedroom. I slowly introduced the idea to his parents then I just set up the playpen in there and put him down for his naps. After a few days of napping longer and being happier his parents realized it worked and continued naptimes in his room. On there own they decided to try one night in there. He slept great and soon his parents moved his crib in. I also kept a strict nap schedule. I would try napping at the same time everyday and making sure it's in her room no matter how long she cries/whines. Do the same with the baby. Kept a log of everything they do before naps and how they react. If the parents are ever home during the day show them your nap routine. Don't ever give in to the girls. And if the problems continue at night and the parents won't leave you alone about it offer to come in during bedtime and show them. Or your other option is to do nothing since it really is the parents problem not yours.

TC the child is old enough to understand, don't bribe her with anything. The parents need to be firm and say no. Let her cry and get upset she will get over it and know no means no.

TC said...

Boston Nanny she is old enough to understand, that's why she still sleeps in her parents room. She has learned how to make her self throw up when she doesn't want to do what you want her to do. She is a smart little girl and knows exactly what to say and do to get what she wants...with her parents.

When I have her overnight there isn't a problem at all, she goes to bed a LOT earlier with me and stays in her bed all night. I had her in that routine for an entire week and the day they came home it went right back to the old routine.

I don't consider it bribery if I take TV time away I see it as a consequence for not sleeping in her bed when she is supposed to. I told her ahead of time that she needed to sleep in her bed and if not the consequence was no tv in my car. I am the one that has to deal with her during the day when she hasn't had enough sleep at night from sleeping in her parents bed so I don't consider it bribing nor her solely her parents responsibility.

just my opinion said...

I co-slept with my daughter until she was almost two.

Grin and bear it, or quit.

talesfromthe(nanny)hood said...

As a nanny, I feel your pain, but you don't get to kmake this decision for the parents. Eventually the parents will decide that they want their kids sleeping in their own rooms, Then they will actually take action to resolve the "problem" that has you so upset.

Until then, I would ask if the parents are OK with you continuing to have the kids nap as YOU prefer. It's no fun to deal with sleep deprived kiddos, but you do have the chance to make and stick with a "Nanny Nap Schedule" and the lkids can grasp that different adults expect different sleep habits.

Bee's Knees said...

I also co-slept with my daughter until she was 2. I still sleep with her if she is sick or has a really bad dream.

Maybe this is just how this family likes to sleep. Maybe the parents miss their children during the day and want to be close to them at night.

Just because it isn't how YOU would do it doesn't make it wrong. I personally wouldn't zone a 2yo out with a TV in the car unless it was a REALLY long car drive, but to each her own.

Anonymous said...

My situation is similar...the whole family sleeps in the same room 2adults, 2 kids, and its a who will wake up next cycle where the parents are tired all the time.
In my case my family doesn't have an extra room and are presently trying to move. In your case they do have an extra room and refuse to utilize it. So if it were me, I'd just leave it alone, let her sleep in her room during her nap time and if they want her in their bed/room at night, that's on them. As long as she's not in your bed! You get a good night's sleep so you can deal with it in the morning!!!
Good luck!

nim

nannyinmanhattan said...

the last comment was me...sorry:(

Kentuckychickrk said...

I dealt with a similar situation with the family I nannied for and their now four-year-old who was an infant at the time. The mom felt guilty for just about literally giving birth and then walking out the door for work 60-70 hours a week so her solution to that was to have him plastered to him every moment she was home, including sleeping in her bed - on her person.

I went through many phases of sleep with him. From the time he was six weeks when I had to swaddle him and surround him with the body pillow to where he felt like he was still being held, to having to let him sleep in his swing in the garage while I watched the older kids play outside, to walking around the block letting him sleep in the stroller, to finally just strapping him into the baby bjorn and letting him sleep there. Literally anything for peace. It was awful.

Finally when he was about 8 months old and the older kids had returned to school I got sick and tired of having to tip toe constantly around the house while he slept, so I carted him up to his nursery upstairs, laid him down in his REAL crib (which until then he'd never used), covered him with a comfy blanket, turned on some nice music and walked out of the room. Nearly three hours later when he woke up... yeah.

Long story short, mom and dad were fine with him taking naps up there but still let him sleep in their own bed. It wasn't until he was 15 months old and still not sleeping through the night that dad finally put his foot down and tried the nursery for the night. He's slept through the night ever since.

My best advice is to stick with what's working for you during the day and let mom and dad suffer through the night with lack of sleep. I know the kids are tired for you... try earlier naps if you have to and then maybe mom and dad will have to deal with the bulk of the cranky's and they'll figure it out eventually.

djembé said...

Geez, just stay out of it. It's none of your business. If the kids are tired, put them down for naps. The parents are doing what they're doing for their own reasons [albeit very stupid reasons], and you will drive yourself nuts trying to impose your reasoning on the situation.

Katlee85 said...

This is why I think Attachment Parenting is such BS.

Mom and Dad don't mind putting you through it when they aren't the ones having to deal. I'm sorry, but they can't expect you to enforce a rule they themselves aren't going to enforce. It's ridiculous.

oh well said...

You don't think it is a good idea for the children to sleep in their parents' room. Unfortunately it is not your place to decide what the parents should do, no matter how frustrating this must feel. I am just wondering one thing: is there any way you could put the children to sleep in their own room if the parents are coming home late one night (with their agreement of course)?

monkey shines said...

a infant in a bed is dangerous especially with others who can roll on the baby and kill him!

Momkat said...

What should you do? Nothing.

Momnonymous said...

monkey shines, actually, unless she has taken drugs or alcohol, a mother naturally goes into a protective position when sleeping with her infant that makes it impossible for her to roll onto the baby and protects the baby from dad rolling onto it. And an infant will regulate it's breathing to match mom's, so sleeping with mom reduces the risk of SIDS.

oh well said...

I thought the 10-month old was in a crib by her parents' bed

OP said...

OP here: Thanks for all of the comments and advice. Just to clarify a few things based on some of the comments... The girls parents do work long hours but they do not co-sleep because they feel guilty. They do it for pure "convieniance" because they are too lazy to wake up and walk down the hall... they would rather the kids be in the same room, an arm's reach away. They won't even walk to the kitchen to make a bottle... they keep a tray in their room. I also understand that children act COMPLETELY different for their parents than for caretakers... but at some point the parent just needs to do something about it!!! Say "no" once in a while for God's sake!!! I realize I have no control over what they do at night but I do not think that it is "none of my business". I care for the girls for 12 hours a day so I think I should be able to voice my opinion about their overtired-ness and lack of sleep due to the current situation. I have honestly never met a more clueless set of parents! I am able to nap the girls where ever I see fit during the day so I have been doing so. Their parents are still dumbfounded as to how I get them to nap at the same time everyday... Geesh. It has also been requested numerous times that I "try" to get the 10 month old down to 1 nap a day! HA! I will either have to just suck it up or look for a new job... Thanks again everyone!

OP said...

OP here: Thanks for all of the comments and advice. Just to clarify a few things based on some of the comments... The girls parents do work long hours but they do not co-sleep because they feel guilty. They do it for pure "convieniance" because they are too lazy to wake up and walk down the hall... they would rather the kids be in the same room, an arm's reach away. They won't even walk to the kitchen to make a bottle... they keep a tray in their room. I also understand that children act COMPLETELY different for their parents than for caretakers... but at some point the parent just needs to do something about it!!! Say "no" once in a while for God's sake!!! I realize I have no control over what they do at night but I do not think that it is "none of my business". I care for the girls for 12 hours a day so I think I should be able to voice my opinion about their overtired-ness and lack of sleep due to the current situation. I have honestly never met a more clueless set of parents! I am able to nap the girls where ever I see fit during the day so I have been doing so. Their parents are still dumbfounded as to how I get them to nap at the same time everyday... Geesh. It has also been requested numerous times that I "try" to get the 10 month old down to 1 nap a day! HA! I will either have to just suck it up or look for a new job... Thanks again everyone!

TC said...

Bees knees, since I'm the only one that mentioned tv in the car I'm going to assume you're talking about me.

First of all my charge is FOUR not two as you stated and second of all she is not zoned out watching the tv, it's a nice distraction from time to time but she and I are always talking in the car over what she sees. Third we live in a suburb of a big city so to do any of the things in the city like the zoo, or a museum we have to drive. With traffic and miles it's a good hour to hour and a half in the car before we get to our destination, heck just to get out of the neighborhood is a good 20 minutes.

one more nanny said...

OP- I agree with everyone else. Continue to have them nap however they do best when you are there. Move naptime earlier if they are cranky (also, even though they are overtired, I would resist letting them nap for 4 hours, because that is sure to mess up their nighttime sleep), and when the parents ask you about stuff like getting them to sleep through the night, etc, just smile and nod and keep on keepin' on.

Bostonnanny said...

TC- Its not going to work. You can take away tv but this isn't your problem to fix. She knows that when your gone, there are different rules. She listens to you and obeys your rule because she knows she has to but when your not there, it doesn't matter. If you truly want her to sleep in her own bed, then talk to her parents openly. They are the only people who can fix this.
My last family of 3 years followed attachment parenting...they wanted their son to sleep with them. I know how stressful and annoying it can be. They were flexible with me and knew i wouldn't follow attachment parenting while i was with him. As he became a toddler he learned the difference between me and his mother. He to would make himself throw up and have tantrums but never with me. I had to sit down with her one day and really let her know that there is an easier way. With support, she slowly let her baby grow up.
The problem was she was to tried to fight and felt guilty.

You can't change the child in this case you need to change the parents.

monkeyshines said...

I would not recomend sleeping with a infant, a family I used to work for lost a 4 month old infant , she rolled into a comforter and suffacated, so personally I would not do it

NannyP said...

My question is, How do the parents get there sex on with the kids in the room?

NanGal said...

@NannyP
that was just what I was thinking! they have a second child so if that first child has been sleeping in their bed the whole time.....

divorced said...

regarding the issue of sex: sex with a husband is always boring. the only sex that is good is with someone you are not married to. So, who cares if the kids sleep with you.

yes. I'm divorced. Yes, I think marriage is BS. I do not find anything wrong with co-sleeping, however. I'd rather have my child in the bed next to me than my ex husband any day.

Marypoppin'pills said...

NannyP said...
My question is, How do the parents get there sex on with the kids in the room?

Anonymous NanGal said...
@NannyP
that was just what I was thinking!


Um... the den, the living room, the bathroom, the utility room... hell, how about the back porch in the middle of the night? (of course, only if you have a high fence.) ;-)

Getthefacts said...

momnonymous --

I will try to be as polite as possible in this response because while I'm not anti cosleeping as a general rule, to quote unsafe and untrue statements is absurd.

A mother going into a "protective" position to keep from rolling onto a baby is often quoted by major co-sleeping supporters when there's no factual evidence. There is, however, much factual evidence to the contrary that a mother can EASILY roll over onto and smother her infant.

The majority of other deaths in adult beds are caused by the child suffocating due to entrapment between mattress and bed, or the fact that blankets used on a adult beds and mattresses on a adult beds are not tested as safe for infants. No amount of not rolling over on a child can put a parent into protective mode enough to wake up and realize when their infant has suffocated in the mattress.

Momnonymous said...

If you want factual evidence, try it some time.

cali mom said...

OP, this sounds like a vicious cycle of a nanny beeing frustrated because the parents won't do thigs the way she thinks they ought to. Have the kids nap as you see fit, and MYOB when it comes to the family's night time choices.

I actually fail to see how sleeping in the same room at night with someone else can cause sleep deprivation problems. Seriously, families have been sharing small spaces and sleeping in a single room together for 1000's of years just fine before child development theorists declared that it was incorrect! If they were all crammed in one bed, I could see a problem, but you said they are not, so the onjections make no sense.

A 10 month old is usually too young to go down to one nap a day, so in that case I'd say the parents are clueless but otherwise you just sound sulky because they won't follow your advice.

Oh and Mommynonymous, while I see nothing wrong with co-sleeping as long as the babies are big enough to roll themselves over or wake themselves up if their breathing is being hampered, etc, that's a ridiculous statement. That's like saying that "all women have a nurturing tendency and secretly want to have a baby". Breathing patterns don't cause SIDS, suffocation does. And do fathers "automatically sleep in a protective position", or do they not count in the safety equation?

MB said...

When our kids were small, but not babies, we both worked and they would come into our room every night and try to crawl in bed with us. We would put them back in their own beds and we would wake up to find them both sleeping on our floor so for awhile we made them a "nest" next to our bed. Not everyone agrees with this but when you are parents and exhausted you have to find some kind of solution. We didn't do this forever but it helped our whole family sleep for awhile. I agree that when you're the nanny you can nap them in their own rooms- they'll probably do it for you but being parents is a whole different things. I have done both.

ghostfromthe past said...

This is not uncommon, even in families who don't have nannies. Making to much ado over it might not be beneficial to you in the long run and after all, it is their home and their kids. Better let well enough alone.

p's thoughts said...

You know, I feel for you, but children sometimes behave very differently for a babysitter than they do for their parents. My three year old sleeps with us, and it's not always a restful night, but overall, it works for us. When the nanny is here, she sleeps in her bed, when we are home with her she sleeps in ours. I used to be a nanny, so I know both sides. I wouldn't worry about it. If the crankiness bothers you to the point where you can't stand it, there are other jobs available. Those ages are prone to crankiness anyway, well rested or not.

p's thoughts said...

I just read your last comment and I wonder if you are a working parent? I'm assuming not, because I had many opinions on the laziness of the parents that I worked for, that is, until I had my own kids. Working parents sometimes do what they must do to get as much rest as possible. For us, getting up and walking down the hall several times a night was not conducive to a better nights sleep. Lazy, or not. There are things that you might not understand about a situation unless you are one of the people in that situation. You seem to have very little respect for these employers. I have been it a situation where I felt that way about an employer. I eventually found the situation intolerable, and I found another, better situation. Still, every situation will contain circumstances which are not ideal. Perhaps, your current situation has redeeming qualities, but if not, I'm sure that there are plenty of parents who believe as you do, and they would probably really appreciate someone like you. Good luck!

Isaysitlikeitis said...

why is this a big problem? yeah you have to deal with cranky kids. give them longer naps. More time for you to have a break anyhow, and if the parents get upset just let them know that they needed the sleep for their well being.

The family I nanny for have a six and a four year old and they both sleep with mom and dad. I never thought this was a problem because they never got to see their parents a lot, for one, they worked all the time and the time they did get to spend together is cuddling to sleep each night. Obviously there will be an age when they will not want to sleep with mom and dad anymore, but whats the real harm? Besides you having to deal with crabby kids, and that can be dealt with by longer naps I'm sure

OP said...

OP here:

Thanks again everyone! I just have to say... I DO NOT want to think about the parents getting their "sex on"!!! No more babies for them... at least for a while!!! Haha... They have PLENTY of rooms to do it in though, let's put it that way ;-)

I want to say again... I have NO PROBLEM with them having the girls sleep where ever they want as long as they are sleeping well... and they are not sleeping well because they are waking up and then waking each other up... It is a vicious cycle, baby wakes up, toddler wakes up, etc. THAT is why sleeping in the same room is causing sleep deprivation. AND I think the girls are only waking up for attention... because they know Mom and Dad are right there and WILL give them attention.

I am not "sulky" because they will not take "my advice"... Like I said, All I hear about is how "The girls kept us up ALL NIGHT... We have got to get them sleeping in their own rooms"... Well, I did my part now they can follow suit or complain to someone else!!!!!

I know the girls parents have no problem with me napping them where I choose so I have been doing so and it has been going great. I do realize that kids get cranky no matter how much they sleep sometimes but I am not exaggerating when I say some days these girls are cranky ALL DAY LONG. I am a very hands on nanny... I like to have fun with the girls but it is difficult when all they are doing is crying/whining/napping because they are so tired. I know more than ever now that I do what works for me during the day and the night time routine is all up to them... Thanks again everyone!!! All the advice made me feel much better =)

OP said...

Oh and to P-

I am not a working parent and believe me... I realize that the girls parents work all day and then have to care for the kids but... they chose to have those kids and part of being a good parent is making choices that are good for them no matter what the cost is for you. I personally will never "co-sleep' with my children because I believe strongly that it prohibits them from developing independence. Not only that but it is a very healthy thing for kids/babies to be able to sooth themselves to sleep and back to sleep in the night. I just don't see how hard it would be to walk down the hall especially when EVERYONE would be sleeping ten times better... but that is just me.

BUT... I will say it again... They can do what they want and I have no problem with it IF THE GIRLS ARE GETTING A GOOD AMOUNT OF SLEEP. =)

I have to say I do not have much respect for them at this point... They do not seem to care how much time they spend with their kids. They have me 45-50 hours a week and then they hire neighborhood babysitters on evenings and weekends. They do not make choices that are best for their kids... they do what is easiest for them... ALWAYS. I also think they try to take advantage of me a lot. BUT, I deal with it and I LOVE the girls so that makes it better.

Thanks for your thoughts and advice P!!! =)

NotThatLady said...

This is not your business. Butt out.

NannyJ said...

Interestingly enough, if the parents are lazy and don't really care, then it should be easy to get the children to sleep through the night. They just need to extinguish the pattern of reinforcement that has been built for the children waking up in the middle of the night. Extinction in this situation always seems harsh...but if the parents put the child/ren in their own room and suffer through the first couple nights...and the extinction burst...then they will have the child sleeping through the night within a week, guaranteed.

That being said, there is obviously nothing you can really do...except possibly mention the principles of reinforcement and extinction to them, and how it will make their lives SO much easier.


Also, TC: I can see a couple problems with the schedules of reinforcement that you've had your charge on. Five days in her bed for a DVD is far too long for a reinforcer of that size. One of the most important principles of reinforcement is immediacy... the sooner after the response the reward is given the more likely it is that the response will increase. If it it something like a DVD that you don't want to let her watch everyday, try putting her on a variable-ratio schedule, as in she sleeps in her bed for 3 days she gets to watch a DVD, then she sleeps in her bed for 2 more days and she gets to watch a DVD, then she sleeps in her bed for 4 days, then 2 days etc. She will never know when the reinforcer is coming so she is more likely to continue the behavior that is being reinforced. Eventually you will be able to fade out the DVDs watched until it is once a week, then one every two weeks, etc.
Food is a primary reinforcer and is something that you will have success with unless the child is satiated on the particular food reward. There is no harm in giving food as a reinforcer in general, especially when teaching a new skill...but I wouldn't recommend doughnuts... but again, a fixed-ratio schedule will work for much longer than a continuous schedule (aka rewarding every time), the child is much more likely to become satiated on the reinforcer (therefore losing it's effectiveness), and fixed-ratio schedules have much longer results.

p's thoughts said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
p's thoughts said...

OP, until you have children of your own, you have absolutely NO idea, what you will do. Until then you are just guessing, based on your experience as a nanny, which is a world away from the experience of a parent.

OP said...

P's thoughts...

Actually I DO KNOW. I know I will not choose myself over my kids. I will do what is best for their development and not what is easiest.

I don't know where you get off saying that the experience of a nanny if far from the experience of being a parent... I RAISE OTHER PEOPLE'S KIDS FOR A LIVING. I think I know just as much if not more than any parent out there! My friends that have kids CALL ME to ask questions. So thanks for the comment but you are WAY off base here.

p's thoughts said...

You'll see. That's really all that I have to say, and that says it all. You don't raise anyone's kids, you think you do, but as I said, you'll see. There is a lot more that goes into being a parent besides putting kids down for naps. For instance, decision making, the parents get to do that, among other things. Good luck!