• Wed, May 1 2013

Bad Mom Advice: You Are Going To Need Pizza And Ear Plugs For This – Whining, Sleep Issues And Raging Brats

bad mom adviceWelcome to my weekly Bad Mom Advice column where I attempt to answer all of your parenting questions as only I know how — with zero degree in early childhood development, but with the experience of raising four kids and not having any of them in prison – yet! Plus, I back all my advice on numerous scientific research, which may or may not include me making fun of your dumb kid behind your back and drinking a bunch of wine! Welcome to Bad Mom Advice!

My daughter is 2 1/2 and wakes up 2-3 times a night without fail. She screams and cries each time, which is upsetting for everyone (including our neighbors within the apartment complex). Her father and I are at our wits end and do not know what to do. We have a nighttime ritual to get her ready for bed where she spends time with both of us and gets a small snack plus enough to drink. When she wakes up she screams for food, milk, or her dad. Any advice on how to handle her poorly timed tantrums or stop them altogether? Thanks!

Your neighbors are going to hate you, unless you follow my excellent Bad Mom Advice for this situation. First of all, at two and a half your adorable daughter is too old to be pulling this manipulating nonsense, especially considering she has such a lovely bedtime ritual. She is playing you and your husband hardcore. I’m not sure how big your apartment complex is, but you first need to do some damage control for your neighbors. If your area is surrounded by under ten apartments, like if you live in a small enough building where you can do this, I would suggest making a flyer that reads something like “Hi, we are your neighbors in Apartment 4B! We have a young daughter we will be sleep training and I’m sorry to disturb you, but she will be making a lot of racket for the next few days. We apologize in advance for this, and we would like to invite you over between the hours of 6-8 on ____ to meet the child disrupting your sleep, eat some pizza, and pick up your emergency supply kit!” Go to the dollar store and pick up some candy, some ear plugs, some of those travel sized packets of Tylenol and hit the liquor store and grab some of those airplane sized bottle of booze. Print up some little cards that read “Thank you for understanding, if you need your plants watered or your mail picked up when you go on vacation, consider this your IOU.” Stick all these little prizes in a ziploc and hand them out when people stop by. I think having pizza and soda or beer is a nice gesture too. Explain to your daughter that she is a big girl now and that everyone needs their sleep. Hell, you can even pick her up some cheapy coloring books and bubbles and stuff for when she stays in her own bed for a few nights. Introduce her to her neighbors and say “Hey, ____, this is Mr. ____ and we need to be quiet and not wake up the building so he can get his sleep.” If you make it like a party I think your daughter will be a lot more willing to cooperate.If your neighbors are creepy, I would just leave the goody bags and the flyers without the stopping by invitation at their doorsteps. Now, your neighbors may have kids or know kids and they were once kids themselves, so they should be understanding without all this pomp and circumstance, but being woken up is not fun so all of this extra junk is just so they don’t complain to your landlord. Let us know how it goes! 

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=789264713 Frances Locke

    Whenever I see a new Bad Mom Advice I get a little giddy, I must confess. You crack me up and your advice is pretty much spot on.

    I actually had a couple with a baby give our whole section a little baby-tolerance goody bag on a flight once. We were flying from Cincinnati to NYC so it was a pretty small plane and the goodies definitely broke the ice and made the flight less awkward for the couple and those sitting nearby.I would never have considered this idea in an apartment building though! Pure genius.

    One thing though, 2 1/2 is definitely too old to be waking up two or three times a night. I wonder if this couple has consulted their pediatrician about possible medical issues. A friend of mine had a similar issue and it turned out the kid had some inner-ear thing. It’s probably just a kid pushing her parent’s boundaries but I think it’s worth getting backed out.

  • Cal.Mom

    Brilliant advice across the board. What worked for us, when my son entered his whiny phase, was to tell him he would not get anything by whining for it and then to follow through with that. Even reasonable requests (such as for a glass of milk, a bedtime story, etc.) when asked for via whining, would get the response, “now you know you won’t get anything by whining for it.” This forced him pretty quick to figure out how to nicely request something.

  • Sean Phillips

    It’s been too fucking long!

  • Sean Phillips

    also, really excellent advice with the cousins. my girlfriend’s little bro (nine years old) has had some serious education the first few times he came to stay with us. when he’s with us he’s polite, he eats what we give him, doesn’t whine or beg for crap, he cleans after himself, etc. Basically, he’s a relatively good, normal kid. but, the minute he gets back home, he immediately turns into a little shit, because, like you said, he knows he can get away with it. his parents give in to his every request and never follow through with threats of punishment. ever. and so even after being told to, say, not leave food lying around, over and over again, he just goes right ahead and ignores it. it’s because his parents are so exhausted, overworked, and sick all the time, but damn, it’s frustrating.

  • Melody

    The parents with the 2 1/2 yr old should definitely mention it to the pediatrician. Our son (now 4) has always had a hard time sleeping because of his allergies and eczema. He wakes up screaming and scratching himself bloody and he used to always need water or juice throughout the night. It turns out the allergy + eczema combo feels something like having your dry, tight skin set on fire from within and he was trying to hydrate himself to combat some of that. Sometimes kids have unnoticed issues that they can’t vocalize because either they are too young or they are just used to it so they think its normal, and nighttime is the worst because they have no stimulation to keep them distracted. In my son’s case we were aware of it because it was very visibly affecting his skin, but my step mom doesn’t have rashes, just horrible under-the-skin burning at night. It could be nothing though, I’m just putting this out there because it sounded very similar to my son’s sleep habits.
    By the way you totally nailed the sound of whining with your description. I have really enjoyed your past few articles :)

  • The Squirrel

    “…seeing a teenager sitting in the corner for calling his younger brother a “Buttface” is rewarding in itself.”

    Ah ha hahahaha!