How often have you heard pleas like these? “I need a glass of water.” “I have to give you one more kiss.” “I need to go potty again.” And on. And on. And on. We understand. And we also know how frustrating and stressful it can be for parents who need a little me-time. And how it can slowly eat away at your child’s sleep, leaving them exhausted and cranky. It’s no good for anyone. Here’s how to end your child’s “endless bedtime” routine and get your family to a happier, healthier place.
- Routine, Routine, Routine. Doing the same things in the same order every night is the number one way to get kids to sleep better. The same things every night at the same time trains your child to go into sleep mode. A bath, then a book, then writing a kind thought in a gratitude journal, then turning on the Tranquil Turtle to create a soothing atmosphere, and then hugs and kisses goodnight. We’re not saying that you have to follow that exact routine, of course. Find one that works for you and your kids and do your best to stick to it.
- Start the Routine Earlier. Kids need more sleep than you do. The National Sleep Foundation says that toddlers between the age of one and two need eleven to fourteen hours of sleep each night. If your kids are on an early wake up schedule, but they’re dragging out their bedtime and going to sleep later, they might not be getting enough sleep. And, ironically, when kids are exhausted it can actually make it harder for them to fall asleep – creating a vicious cycle. So, you might need to adjust when you start getting them ready for bed to make sure they’re getting the proper amount of sleep they need to be happy and healthy.
- Have A Family Meeting Before You Start. Kim west (aka The Sleep Lady) advises the following: “Explain to your child that you have learned that they need to learn how to put themselves to sleep ‘without Mommy and Daddy laying down with you’ (for example) and that you are going to stay with them as they learn. Encourage your child to brainstorm about how she can participate, maybe by deciding what she can take into her bed to touch, hug, or twirl, or what extra game she will get to play in the morning if she uses her ‘good sleep manners’ at night. You want her to have a stake in success. You may be surprised at how sensitive children already are to sleep issues, and how quickly they pick up the lingo. Many children are relieved when parents bring this up. They know that something is wrong, that Mom and Dad are frustrated and want them to sleep differently. They are happy to know you are going to stay with them as they learn.”
- Put Extra Love Under the Pillow. Sarina Behar Natkin from Grow Parenting has this fabulous tip: “At bedtime, tuck a whole bunch of extra hugs and kisses under the pillow and remind your child that when they need an extra one, they can grab one out from under their pillow. Silliness is key to this one.”
- Bore the Pants Off Your Toddler. We love this tip from the Baby Sleep Site: “Even if you do everything right, you may still find yourself dealing with a staller. Here’s what to do – after you’ve tucked your toddler into bed and left the room, be sure that if you interact with him again (either because he’s calling for you, or because he’s gotten out of bed), you do so in as boring a way as possible. Seriously! Don’t make much eye contact, keep your voice monotone, etc. while you tend to the situation. Don’t seem angry – just neutral and dull. Basically, you want your toddler to see that you are ‘done’ for the night. The exception to this rule would be if your toddler wakes after a nightmare or night terror and is truly frightened – in that case, offer as much love and comfort as you can!”
- Give Your Child a “Free Pass.” Here’s a video from Dr. Greene about a simple trick that he used on his own kids that worked wonders!
Whether your child is scared or feels like he’s going to miss out on something or “acting out,” using consistency, care, and these clever tips, you can hopefully reduce “whack-a-mole” bedtimes.