More and more I’m seeing moms complaining about bedtime on my social media feeds. There are several bedtime memes spreading like wildfire. I’ve been asked by several people if the girls go to bed easily, and luckily for me, they really do.
Like any other aspect to parenting, we’ve had highs and we’ve had lows. Bedtime when the girls shared a room for a brief time in our last house was an absolute nightmare for quite some time. We finally got a bedtime routine down for that situation, but it’s been much better having them in their own rooms. Moving Callie from her crib to a bed was definitely a trying time, with her constantly getting out of her bed, once she realized she could. For this, we had an incentive chart. Each night that she didn’t get out of her bed after we closed the door, she earned a sticker. After five stickers, she earned a very small prize of her choice. Eventually, we no longer had to use the incentive chart.
I should also preface that while a set schedule has never been a priority for our family (even as tiny newborns and through infancy), I have been a HUGE stickler on 8:00 bedtime during the week from the time they no longer needed to be nursed to sleep. Weekends are a different story, but if we have to get up in the morning for school/work, you better believe that they will be in bed and tucked in no later than 8:15.
Here is our bedtime routine. This does not come with a money back guarantee. There is no promise that this will change your life for the better 😉
1. Wind down time is important. Unless we are coming home late from some sort of activity, we try to “wind down” about 15 minutes before we start our routine. This looks different from night to night. Sometimes it’s a couple rounds of Eye Found It! (such a fun game for all four of us). Sometimes it’s cuddling on the couch and watching a quick Netflix episode. Coloring or a few minutes of tablet time are also wind down options. Some nights, they prefer to get pajamas on earlier and read a story in bed as their wind down time. This helps signal their bodies that it’s time to calm down and get ready for bed.
2. Know that it’s going to take longer than a minute and plan for that. We usually start the routine at 8:00, hoping that our routine is finished and the door has been shut by 8:15. There is nothing fast about putting little ones to bed, and we’ve learned that from experience. Rushing them through this process and/or skipping parts of our nightly routine frustrates and upsets them, only prolonging the process. Even if we get started a few minutes late, we never miss a piece, and I think that has helped. We very rarely have bedtime meltdowns.
3. Brush teeth and get ready for the next day. After pajamas have been put on, teeth have been brushed, and good nights have been exchanged by the girls, Chad helps Ella and I help Callie pick out clothes for the next day so that’s not a battle we have to fight first thing in the morning. We look at the weather and decide together what coverage is needed (long sleeves/short sleeves/tank top). From there, they choose what to wear. They really have pretty good sense of what matches. Some days I do cringe, but I tell them they look great anyway, and allow them to be THEM. Building confidence is the name of this game.
4. Individual time with each of them. I always start in Callie’s room and Chad always starts in Ella’s room. I’m not really sure what Chad does with each of the girls, because we both have different routines we do with them. Callie always chooses two songs for me to sing before I tell her our nightly poem. I made this little poem up when Ella was a newborn and have said it to each of them every single night. Once we are each done, Chad and I switch bedrooms. With Ella, we always talk about a high and low of the day and I ask about what she learned in school if we haven’t already talked about it. There is almost always some sort of conflict that arose at school and we talk through it. Before leaving her room, I tell her our nightly poem and she says it to me. This couple of minutes alone with each girl is so important to all of us.
“You are so, so smart. You are so, so beautiful. You are one of mommy’s favorite girls. I love you so, so much. No bad dreams. Sleep good for mommy. Stay in your own bed. Night, night. Love you!”
5. Enjoy the peace and quiet. Right at about 8:30, I turn into a mom that no one wants to see. After being at school all day teaching 20 preschools who aren’t my own, then coming home to two who are mine, by 8:30, I AM DONE. My patience has been completely used up, my calm voice no longer exists, and my sweet smile has turned into a stern face. So at this point, I pack lunches for the next day and spend time with my husband, either watching one of our ongoing shows, or being inspired by HGTV or Shark Tank. This is also when I do most of my blogging.
Young children thrive on routine. They are also wicked smart. They know when you are weathered down from the day and will cave easily and they will take full advantage of that. We started this routine when Ella no longer needed to be nursed to sleep – around 16 months, and have been doing the same thing every single night. Of course it changed a little bit when Callie came along, and then changed again when Callie no longer needed to be nursed to sleep – around 18 months. This is what works for us.
For those of you who struggle at bedtime, I wish I had a magic wand for you, because I assume you, like me, have your breaking point. I hope that you can try one or two of these things with success. The good news is, it won’t last forever. And one night, you won’t have to put that little one to bed anymore, so cherish the time now.
Until next time…
“When my baby is sleeping, that’s when I think, ‘Man, I made that!'”