Sorry for length!
Looking for advice. I am struggling. My daughter is 3yo and has always been a good sleeper. We moved her to a toddler bed when she was 2yo with no real issues. Around 2.5 yo bedtime started getting a bit dicey and has consistently gone downhill to the point where I'm about to lose it. I'm 34 weeks pregnant and really worried about what happens when we bring a new baby home and continue to deal with this bedtime/nighttime drama. There are two issues here: bedtime stalling/constantly chasing after us when we leave her room and coming into our bed in the MOTN.
About 3-4 months ago we started letting her come into our bed in the middle of the night. I resisted at first but with all the pregnancy sleep issues, it was just easier to let her crawl in our bed and go back to sleep. I knew I'd need to put an end to it before the new baby comes, and so I put a stop to it about a week ago. I set her up with a chart and a sticker system. She gets a sticker for every night she stays in her bed and when she gets 10 stickers I'll get her a toy. We have an OK to Wake clock that I set to turn green at 5:30 at which point she's allowed to come in our bed and sleep/snuggle for the last hour until we all wake up. It's been going okayyyy, and I think we're slowly making progress. She still wakes up around 11:30PM, 5PM and sometimes 2PM but I've been consistent and put her back in her bed every time. The wake-ups have gradually been getting shorter and less dramatic. Hoping that works itself out and she eventually stops doing it.
My main struggle is with bedtime. We all get home at 6pm, eat dinner, spend some time together, and then start bedtime routine at 8pm. She's asleep between 8:30-9:00pm on average. Bedtime gradually started getting later and later over the past couple months. DH and I were splitting up the routine. I would read 2 books, he would sing 2 songs, then lights out. Except then she started wanting "one more hug, one more kiss" from me after he sang her songs. Basically whoever wasn't around, that's who she wanted another hug from. "I want water, I have to pee again, I'm sweaty, My blankets not working..." All the usual toddler bedtime stalling tactics. But in the past month it's gotten so much worse. Also about a week ago I decided DH and I should stop splitting up the routine and do everything together so that she can stop splitting us up and manipulating us. I think that's been a good idea. But every night when it's time to leave her room, she turns into complete hysterics. The "one more hug, one more kiss" is absolutely endless. Everytime I turn round from hugging her, she wants another one. She asks me to snuggle her, rub her head, etc. I've tried talking her into snuggling a stuffed animal, an extra pillow, etc but she refuses and says she needs "a person snuggling her." Every time we leave her room and say goodnight she runs after us begging about how much she needs us. Some nights I have more patience than others. Sometimes she pushes me to the edge more quickly. She wants me, she wants her dad. I'm so confused about what to do. I've tried being firm, sometimes I yell, sometimes I indulge her more. About 60% of the time lately it turns into this huge dramatic tantrum/meltdown/mess. Tonight was particularly brutal. She had a total freak out, begging for her dad (after he'd already given a million hugs) and was kicking and screaming and telling me she doesn't love me, bad mommy, etc.
She goes to daycare 4 days a week, and she still naps 1-3pm there. I asked the teachers last week and they said it's no drama at nap time. Over the past 6 weeks nap time on the 3 days she is home has gotten increasingly less common and I'd say we're on Week 3 now of not even trying to get her to nap on the weekends. But she shows no signs of needing one. Doesn't melt down, everything's totally fine. She can hang all day! And bedtime on the days she doesn't nap is SO MUCH EASIER. She's usually asleep by the time we finish singing to her and the drama doesn't happen. My gut is that she's dropping the nap but not completely yet, and that she still needs it during the week. But it's during the week that we struggle with bedtime. We wake up at 6:45/7am each morning. Most 3YO I know go to bed much earlier than she does. I honestly don't know what the issue is. Is she going to bed too late? Should she stop napping during the week? Is this all related to separation anxiety or new baby coming? She's genuinely thrilled for the new baby and hasn't expressed any concerns to me about it. I'm worried I'm making everything worse with the drama at night. She's hysterical when I get firm with her, but I also don't want to give in too much to her relentless requests. I have no idea what to do.