Oh boy. We had a huge problem with our son at bed time and it was a battle of the wills. UNTIL both my husband and I decided to take control and be CONSISTENT.
My husband and I came up with a plan and decided to stick with it. Then, we sat our son down and told him that there is going to be no more bed time problems because we are making the new rules that will not be broken, starting tonight.
So, this is what we did: We worked in reverse and did part of the bed time routine earlier. At dinner time, we told our son that this would be the last food he would eat until breakfast time, so make sure your tummy is happy before you leave the table and take your last sip of milk or juice until breakfast. DO NOT give your child ANYTHING else to eat or drink, because you are being consistent, right? Right. Immediately after dinner, we gave our son a bath and brushed his teeth before getting into his pajamas (thus, making him "ready" for bed). Reminding him, that it was not bed time, but we were just getting clean and cozy. He got to pick a before bedtime activity (his choice) , which was one hour before bedtime. During that activity time, we would remind him: one hour until bed time, 45 minutes before bed time, 30 minutes before bed time, 15 minutes before bed time, 10 minutes before bed time, 5 minutes until bed time, it is bed time now. If he chose something that needed cleaning up afterwards, the 15 minute warning was "clean up time now". Remember, these time reminders were not yelled from across the room, they were said WHILE touching our son on the shoulder so his concentration was broken and he could hear and comprehend us, rather than our words being nothing more than background noise or barked orders.
At bed time, one last trip to the bathroom to pee and into bed he went. Remember, if your child wants a drink, you remind them that you told them their last drink was at dinner time. If I was reading the book, my husband would kiss him goodnight, see you in the morning. And, vice versa. This is important, because the child will not see dad again until morning. This is a way to avoid your child from pitting one parent against the other. So, only ONE parent reads and puts the child to bed at a time. After reading the book, I would kiss him goodnight and tell him I would see him in the morning. Turn off the lights (a low light night light prevents total darkness) and leave the room without ANOTHER WORD OR CONVERSATION, whatsoever. Close the door.
This IS the routine, every single night. If your child gets up and leaves their room, do not answer questions or have any sort of conversation with your child, just march the child back to bed and say "Good Night, see you in the morning." Leave the room. If it happens again, then you install a hook and eye on the outside of their door so they cannot get out of their room. Of course, you unhook it before YOU go to bed. Let the child scream, yell and have a hissy fit in their room. The object is that the child stays in the room and has no further contact with you or anyone else after lights out.
I swear to God, in just TWO NIGHTS, our child went to bed without ANY issues. It was a miracle.
Now, mind you, from the time our son was 18 months to two years old, night time was a living hell for our family. We dreaded bed time as we were not only exhausted by the end of the day, but we were losing sleep every night due to the hour we finally got to go to bed ourselves due to our son's late hours up and controlling us.
Well, if you are consistent and sit down with your child, both you and your husband and EVERYONE else who puts your child to bed with the new set of rules, then your child knows they cannot play adults against one another. If the rules are followed every single night, your child will conform to consistency. I promise you.
I NEVER thought it would be possible to have a calm bed time, but with these simple steps, you really can control your child and finally sit down and relax once they are in bed. Really.
Perhaps your child may take more than two days to realize they have lost control of you at bedtime. But, that is okay as long as you remain consistent and do not waiver from the set rules. Because once you do waiver, then you forfeit control and your kid has you running in circles again, because you are allowing her to do so.