With as much as small children run around and play all throughout the day, you would think that they would be exhausted come bedtime. Yet, it never fails that mom is the one who is exhausted while the kids are still bouncing off the walls. If you desperately need your kids to PLEASE! GO TO SLEEP! know that you are not alone. Moms all across the world are going through the exact same thing. As much of a rite of passage as it is, however, that doesn’t mean you just have to grin and bear it. Here are seven bedtime routine tips to help you get your little ones to sleep.
1. Start Young
While it is probably too much to expect your baby to sleep through the night from day one, it is never too early to start good habits. Before you start any sleep routines, think far into the future. The routine may be fine now, but is it something you want to continue long term? It is much easier to start off with a great routine now rather than to try to break bad habits later.
2. Choose Bedtime Carefully
If your children seem wide awake come bedtime, they may truly not be tired yet. Try to hit that bedtime sweet spot when they are tired, but not overtired. I aim for the first yawn. Once you find a time that works–stick with it as best you can.
3. Monitor Pre-Bedtime Activities
Too much juice, television or roughhousing right before bedtime makes for overactive children. Keep the evening activities calm and peaceful so your little ones start to settle down. Stories and board games are both great options.
4. Give Plenty of Warning
No one likes to be suddenly ripped from a task they enjoy, and if you fail to give your kids a warning, they will surely object. Give them warning when it is 20 minutes until bedtime, then 5, and then 1. This will give them a chance to wrap up their activities before they need to start getting ready for bed.
5. Create a Consistent Routine
There are hundreds of ways to do bedtime, and all families do bedtime a little differently. While you should aim for something soothing, it doesn’t matter so much which way you pick as long as it works for your family and it is consistent. Common choices include baths, stories, snuggles, prayers, and hugs and kisses. The length and the specific activities are up to you.
6. Mean Business
If you often threaten your kids but don’t follow through, they will quickly learn that they can do whatever they want without consequence. Instead, politely but firmly set clear boundaries and consequences and then follow through. While it isn’t fun at first, it is absolutely essential for creating bedtime routines that work. Don’t worry about being “the bad guy;” kids thrive with a degree of structure and predictability, even if it doesn’t seem like it at first.
7. Be Patient
It is important to understand that while these tips do work, they do not work overnight. Your kids will probably fight the change in routine for the first several nights, and that is to be expected. Have high expectations that you can have a successful bedtime routine and stick with it. The first few rough nights will be completely worth it once your kids begin going to bed peacefully.
Finding just the right bedtime routine can be tricky, especially if your children are used to doing whatever they please. Don’t ever feel like a failure or like nothing is working, however. Choose a good routine, implement it, be consistent, and follow through. Hopefully they will be sleeping better in no time.