Over the past three years, I have found that my kids do best at bedtime if we follow the same routine each day. That isn’t to say that we never vary from our routine, but I try not to when possible.
It took quite a while to develop a routine that worked for us. When you have a baby, more often than not, you are driven by their schedule- and mine never liked sleeping when I thought they should or wanted them to. As our youngest child has gotten older it has been easier to create habits and stick to them.
If we stray from our normal bedtime or go out in the evening there tends to be more fighting, grumpiness and crying and nobody has any fun.
Here is what our normal evening looks like:
5:00 p.m. – My husband and I leave work to pick up the kids.
5:30 p.m. – 5:45 p.m. – We arrive home.
6:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. – Usually the kids watch TV or draw at the dining room table while I make supper. Then we eat.
7:00 p.m. – I turn off the bright lights and leave on two dim table lamps to try to help everyone wind down.
After supper – I don’t allow TV or devices after supper.
On Wednesdays and Sundays the kids take baths (more often as needed but they both have sensitive skin and their eczema flares up if they bathe more often).
We put lotion on the kids and help them into their pajamas. play, and read a few thousand books.
7:45 p.m. – They both brush their teeth. I turn on their white noise machines.
Generally, there is an argument about needing to go potty before bed and not wanting to potty before bed.
8:00 p.m. – Bedtime
Oscar insists on lying down in my bed with me, so I will lay with him until he falls asleep and then transfer him to his crib. Sometimes it is five minutes, other times it could be forty-five. Other times I fall asleep too.
After – Some nights I will read or watch TV with my husband. Other nights I am so exhausted I just go to bed.
How to establish your own routine
Every family is different so what works for one may not work for another. It can take some time to perfect a routine that works for your family and you might have to ease into it until you get into the groove.
Be consistent – Consistency and repetition are the keys to making habits.
Control the food – Don’t serve caffeinated or sugary drinks and snacks at your evening meal or after.
Be prepared – Have pajamas ready when you are done with your evening meal. Keep a cup of water and a box of Kleenex at your child’s bedside. Find any necessary blankets, toys, pacifiers, or other comfort items before bedtime.
Reduce Distractions – Turn off any electronic devices or put away any toys the kids may fight over (I know, easier said than done).
Create a relaxing atmosphere – Low lighting, soft music, and quiet voices all contribute to a relaxing environment.
Relax – Discover ways to help your child calm and be ready for rest. Many kids respond well to a nightly warm bath or using lavender lotion.
Snuggling on the couch and reading books is a great way to make kids sleepy. Encourage activities that will not get them wound up (my kids would chase each other around the house or wrestle with Dad and reenergize before bed if I would let them.)
Help them stay asleep – Find a comfortable temperature so no one is too hot or too cold. Use white noise or quiet music to block out other household noises. Find a nightlight that is the perfect balance of not too bright and bright enough.
Use naps if they need it – When my daughter doesn’t get a nap in after preschool, by the time bedtime rolls around she is overtired and will throw a fit at the drop of a hat.
Stick to it – Ultimately you are the parent and have to enforce the rules.
Do you have any suggestions or tips? What works for you? I would love if you’d leave me some comments!