Sometimes Toddlers are Jerks

They just are. I don’t really know what has possessed Abbie lately, but she’s been a giant pain some days. Especially at bedtime. The worst part? She’s not old enough for me to explain that she’s hurting my feelings… but she still hurts them. Sometimes toddlers are just jerks.

Abbie has had basically the same bedtime routine since before I went back to work after maternity leave, just tweaked over time. When she was a baby, it was bath, nurse, bed. Then nursing was replaced with a bottle when she decided she was done nursing. Then we added in reading stories, and eventually she didn’t want the bottle. Nearly all of those changes were Abbie’s decisions – one day, she wouldn’t nurse. One day, she wouldn’t take the bottle. Overall, I’ve been okay with it, but now she’s trying something I’m just not okay with.

She doesn’t want me to read her stories anymore. She wants to do it herself.

Abbie Reading

I’m having a really hard time with it, and it’s something I really can’t accept. For over a year now (since sleep training), Abbie has gone to bed with no issues, no crying, and a kiss goodnight. The last two nights? She’s been screaming when we put her in her crib… because she wants to keep looking at her books. I definitely don’t want her to think she can’t have her books – we are definitely a family of readers – but bedtime is bedtime, and I miss my sweet routine with my girl. It was always the best part of my day.

So, now I’m wondering what, if anything, to do. Is it a phase she’ll grow out of? Do I need to switch up her routine? Is it time to go to a toddler bed (even though she’s never tried to climb out of the crib) so she can climb in with her books and I can turn the light out? I don’t know the answer. All I know is I want to keep reading to my little girl. Stop growing so fast, bug. Mama can’t keep up.

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Jess Beer is a full-time working mom of two girls who writes about motherhood, wellness, easy meals and style.

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14 Responses

  1. Oh mama….. biggest lesson I’ve learned is stay on your toes and go with the flow. My kids go through phases so often, and we’ve managed to keep our sanity by adjusting routines as necessary. She’s likely pushing the boundary by wanting to keep reading – and our rule is, when it’s bedtime, it’s bedtime. Yes, books are good, but so is sleep and rest, and the books will be there in the morning. Even if you think she doesn’t understand, still talk to her and tell her the rules and that she can read the books in the morning. They understand much more than we expect, I think.

    My kids’ bedtime routines have changed SOOOO much over the years, and it differs by which parent is putting them to bed, too. Hang in there and try not to fret. 🙂

    1. Thanks hon. We adjusted some and it definitely helped – we started letting her take a book with her if she wanted and no problems since!

  2. Read to her…when she lets you. Encourage her to read those books by looking at the pictures and telling you what is happening. Bridget sometimes wants to read at bedtime and sometimes wants us to read (chapter books) to her. The bonding is about the interaction, not who is officially reading the words (or even if the words are actually read). And you’re fostering her passion for reading!

    I wouldn’t recommend the toddler bed until she either tries to crawl out of the crib, starts nighttime potty training, or asks for a “big kid” bed. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a book or two in there for her.

    On the other hand, bedtime should be bedtime. Maybe start earlier than normal so you can let her read with you, then on her own for a bit, then tell her it is time for sleep, give her a hug and kiss (and any other ritual that is important to your family), and turn off the lights. Don’t let her make it a way to prolong bedtime. I wouldn’t fight with her to take the books away, but turn off the light – she’ll give up when she doesn’t have enough light!

    Bedtime will continue to change, as will the special moments you have with her. When Bridget was an infant, I rocked with her and sang every night….until the night she decided to crawl off my lap and to her crib and shake the side until I put her in. Now, we have special mommy-daughter time when I do her nails or when she plays with my hair.

    1. We started letting her take a book to bed and since then, there’s been no problems. She still won’t let me read to her, but I’ve taken to just picking up a book and reading it aloud anyway. I’m hoping she gets over this and lets me read to her again soon.

  3. Adjusting to your little ones becoming more independent is so tough. It’s like we encourage them to take their first steps and get so excited when they do, but then we quickly we realize we have a ‘walker’ and just like that our ‘baby’ is gone and we want them to stop walking. Same thing applies to bedtimes and the routines that we create. Perhaps encourage her to choose 2 stories for you to read to her and then 2 stories she can read to you, then it’s lights out. Keep consistent…and good luck, mama!!

    1. Thank you! We made a few changes and it’s been a LOT better. It’s hard watching them grow and get more independent!

  4. kaye is a great sleeper and rocks her bedtime routine…but true to age…she’s getting more strong-willed. she looks at another book when i read. i feel like she’s barely paying attention. regardless…i let her lead the whole bit. it’s totally a phase. just read regardless as she’s looking at her own book. she’s just testing her individuality. every night i let her help me pick out three books. she knows three books is the limit. once those are done…we’re done. that’s just how it goes. then it’s a kiss, a tuck-in, a goodnight. lights out. hope that helps! 🙂 just be strong. you’re the boss, but it’s okay if she’s not really paying attention right now.

  5. So I pretty much hate bedtime since the big kid bed. Books have been a semi issue too. here’s a few different things we do that help sorta. When c was still in her crib Inwould let her pick a book to take to bed. like a small board book. she would “read” a little at night and it gave her something to play with in the am. we also stop reading if she doesn’t listen. so if the rule is read together you can tell her you won’t read at all if not together. I know u want to encourage reading but you also want to encourage a happy bed time and listening skills 🙂 oh and toddlers are the real life de Jekyll and mr Hyde 🙂

    1. Oh no! I’m trying to put of the big kid bed as long as possible for this exact reason.

      Ugh, toddlers.

  6. Kudos for raising a reader! My 16 month old is the same. I often find him sitting on the floor ‘reading’. At nap time, if he isn’t tired yet I give him a board book in the crib. I see him ‘reading’ for about 10 minutes, then totally passed out. Might be worth it if you think it’s a phase.

    1. I started just letting her bring a book to bed and it’s helped so much – lets her get her way a little, but I know she can’t “read” because her room is dark. Works so much better!

  7. I feel like we are *almost* at this point, and it makes me sad. With my bump growing, having her sit in my lap while we read is getting harder and harder to do. I’m hoping she can hold out a few weeks until her dad comes home and takes over. I’m also nervous about a big kid bed, because her books are definitly within reach—she’ll never sleep! Ack!

    1. Darn that bump getting in the way 😉

      Big kid beds are seriously one of the scariest things ever.

I’m Jess! I’m a working mama of two sweet sisters living in the DC area. This is my space to share inspiration, real stories of working motherhood, recipes, style, and more! I can’t start my day without coffee and always try to show the real side of motherhood – the good and the challenging. I’m so glad you’re here – thanks for following along on my journey!

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