My wonderful three year old is a busy girl. She has been extremely active since being in the womb. When I was expecting her, I used to think she may possibly be having seizures inside me because she was moving so erratically all. the. time. And guess what? She has been the same on the outside, too. Since birth, she's been my mover, constantly needing to move any part of her body. When she's falling asleep, she'll often shake her leg, hum, or rub her nose with her blanket. As you can imagine, falling asleep can take her a long time as she needs to slowly shut down. If she has other stimuli distracting her, she simply can't choose to ignore it.
So, in the last month, she was having a very difficult time falling asleep. She's done a great job over the last 3 1/2 years, but for whatever reason, this last month has resulted in her taking up to 4 hours to fall asleep. And then, she'd be up at 6 am, about 1 1/2 hours earlier than she usually woke up. In total, she was getting 7-9 hours of sleep, when she used to get 12 hours at night PLUS 3 in the day. She was so grumpy she could hardly function. The fits, disobedience, and yelling were getting so out of hand I didn't know what to do. I started cutting her naps completely so she could actually fall asleep at night, but it only added to her grumpiness.
Finally, one night in desperation, I started searching for ideas. I came upon two that have really helped. If you have a child like mine or find yourself in this situation, maybe these ideas will help you too.
First, I stopped telling her it was time to go to sleep. Instead, I told her she just needed to relax. Don't worry about falling asleep, just relax. I told her to relax meant to be quiet and stay in her bed, trying to be still. But she didn't have to fall asleep. Just relax.
Second, I put on a CD with harp music. (It's nostalgic for me because Heidi used to play the harp at night in our home growing up and I would often fall asleep to the sound of her practicing. I loved it then and I love it still.) I really don't like sleep props and I really don't like kids being reliant on something to fall asleep. But, with her, I decided it was more important to get over this sleep hump than to worry about that.
So, every night, I tell her to relax and listen to her music, and when the CD is over, I will come in to her and bring her a drink of water. Every night, she has fallen asleep within 30 minutes, and I've never had to bring her a drink. She is so much happier, so much more obedient and kind to her sisters. And the peace we all feel at night time has been wonderful.
I still can't let her take a nap during the day because she's not tired enough at night then, but I give her a bin of toys or puzzles to do for 2 hours in the middle of the afternoon in her room and she's happy. I'm happy. We're all happy.