It’s really past my bedtime and yet again I’m waiting on little ones to bed down. I’m sure you’ve been there. You’re tired, your spouse is tired, and the babies aren’t sleepy at all.
Most nights we win this battle, but some nights, like tonight, I can only eat tons of chocolate and attempt to convince myself that I’m not a failure as a mother.
When I do win the bedtime game, I analyse what I’ve done so I can do it again with similar results. In case you’re wondering, this is what Type A moms do… They can’t just relax after a big win, they must pick it apart and create a bulleted list for future reference. ::sigh:: But, that’s another topic. Here are a few strategies I’ve found that seem to work.
Put them to bed at the same time
Make sure each kid knows exactly when the bedtime is. Warn about 15 minutes ahead of time and again every 5 minutes.
Don’t try putting all of your kids to bed at the same time. This has never worked for us. We find that the youngest is the one we usually catch sneaking out of bed, and if she’s still awake she disturbs the others. She goes to bed a full hour before the others and is sound asleep before the older kids start their own bedtimes. For your reference, my 6 year old goes to bed at 8:00, the 8 year old at 9:00, the 10 year old at 9:30 and the 13 year old at 10:00.
Be firm about bedtime (don’t give in)
Don’t be tempted to give them more than a 5 minute grace period. If they think you’ll cave they’ll ask every night. Be firm and make bedtimes concrete. Every time we end up with a bedtime disaster, it’s on a night that we’ve given in to a later bedtime.
Make a bedtime ritual
Bedtime should be comforting and regular. Make a routine that your kids can expect and somewhat look forward to. Our routine is a glass of milk, pajamas they love and helped pick out, a good toothbrushing and a trip to the potty. The little one gets a book read to her each night and the older ones are allowed to read for 30 minutes.
They love this quiet time and it helps them relax into bedtime-mode.
Ensure they get enough activity during the day
The only days that there is NO argument on bedtime is days when they have swam or played all day. Summer bedtime woes for our family are rare because, like us, they’re completely tuckered out by the end of the day.
No lamps past reading time. Lamps and bright lights just encourage my kids to get up and play. A night light is what works for us, and it also offers up something to take away if they are caught misbehaving. Win-win
We’re from the south, so we grew up sleeping with a fan on us at night. If you’ve ever slept in a room that’s 100F you know exactly what I mean! Our kids have always had their own fan in their room both for the breeze and the noise. If you worry about the cold, you could also use a noise machine for white noise. This is the one we use at my MIL’s home when we visit: Conair Noise Machine
Warning, these are addictive. Once you get used to having white noise in your room it’s almost impossible to sleep without it.
For particularly young children a bedtime chart can be a good way to reward bedtime achievements. Any coloring sheet will do, just draw 1-10 in order around the picture and ‘connect the dots’ around the picture each night that your child stays in bed. Once the chart is complete, give a simple reward (ice cream, cookie, small toy). After you’ve run through a chart 3-4 times, and created the routine, you can do away with it.
Be forewarned that giving a reward for an expected behavior may cause problems when you take the reward away. It wasn’t difficult for us because I just sat down and explained the situation to my child, but I have heard that some moms have a hard time getting rid of reward charts.
I’m still up so you can see these strategies don’t work all the time, but for the most part, they do wonders for us. Hope they help you!
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