As a mother, one of the craziest times of my day has often been bedtime.
My children do not like to sleep. Maybe yours do; if so, I will gladly get off this computer and invite you to finish this post!
If you sometimes find yourself pulling your hair out over frustrating bedtimes, please continue reading.
Note: My husband and I do not practice the “family bed” routine; exempting infancy, our children sleep in their own bedrooms. If you are a mommy (or daddy) who enjoys sharing the bed with your kiddos, please don’t take offense at this post. Some of these “tips” may not apply to your family, but I am certainly not knocking the family bed.
A few things we do to keep bedtime as simple as possible with small children:
Be consistent with a routine.
I’m not a slave to schedule, but I do believe that routine is a life-saver in a home with small children. If I put my children to bed at different times every night, I can’t expect them to be on some sort of schedule all on their own.
I don’t feel that little ones should be allowed to stay up until they fall asleep from sheer exhaustion on their own. Different times will work better for different families, but the key is to be as consistent as possible.
Eight-thirty is bedtime for our little people. This means that either my husband or I have to get baths going, lay out pajamas, help the kids brush their teeth, and otherwise get the bedtime routine going at an early hour.
Children are creatures of habit (aren’t we all?). The ease of bedtime when you keep a consistent routine is well worth the effort!
Don’t compare your kids.
All children are not created equal (in their behavior, I mean). Some babies sleep all night nearly from infancy. Others are still popping out of bed at three or four years of age.
As a mama, I frequently hear questions like, “Is he a good baby? Does he sleep well at night?”
Well, yes and no. Yes, babies are good, and not because they happen to sleep a lot at night!
Don’t be frustrated with your child if he or she doesn’t happen to be a good sleeper. However, if you have a toddler or older child who chronically struggles with poor sleeping habits, take health issues and eating habits into consideration. Natural remedies and a healthy diet (including eliminating food allergies) go a long way in helping little ones rest well.
Train Your Little Ones to Unwind at the End of the Day
We try to keep bedtime peaceful by keeping it quiet. I don’t feel that children need to fall asleep watching TV, or even a good DVD. Children learn to appreciate peace by living in a home that is filled with peace.
Listening to a Bible story, reading a book, or family devotions are good “quiet time” activities to wrap up the day.
Keep your bedtime routine do-able.
Kids have an amazing memory. If you tell Susie and Sammy three stories, sing two songs, and allow two trips to the kitchen for a drink before bed on Monday night, guess how many stories and songs and drinks they’ll want on Tuesday night?
If you can’t keep doing something, don’t start.
Our bedtime routine goes something like this: play time after supper, baths around 7:30, dress for bed, straighten bedrooms, healthy snack, brush teeth, go to potty, get a drink of water, story and a song, lights out and quiet. This little “routine” has worked well for us the past year or so. We have a baby coming this year, so it is certainly subject to change!
A few more thoughts…
Ideally, bed time should not be a stressful time, for either children or parents. Unfortunately, life is more reality than idealism. Establishing a do-able, consistent routine for bedtime takes a lot of effort on the part of a parent. And it can be extremely frustrating at times.
What I strive to work toward, even in the midst of frustration, is that bedtime not become a negative part of the day.
How do you strive to keep your young children’s bedtime routine as peaceful and simple as possible?
photo credits: HeartFelt’s Vintage Children’s Collection