Bedtime for most parents is a chore that NO ONE looks forward to, especially MOM! Most mothers tell me they have the hardest time getting their little ones to GO to bed, STAY in bed, etc. Bedtime can be the worst time of the day for some of us parents and when you have so many little ones like I do, the thought of it can be downright intimidating!
These are the best tips I’ve learned over the years with 4 kids. Thank goodness I got a system down and bedtime is actually not an issue at our house. Once they’re in bed (peacefully), I can sit back and enjoy the silence. 🙂
If you’re having bedtime struggles, hopefully these ideas will at least give you some inspiration to take charge and make it a better ending to your day. I also want to insert a disclaimer here that ALL of my kids have been horrible sleepers at one point or another, so please don’t think my kids are “sleep perfect” little angels. My 9 yr old wouldn’t sleep through the night until she was almost 1, my 4 yr old used to climb out of her bed repeatedly, my 3 yr old refused to transition to a “big boy bed” and my 18 month old likes to climb out and ask for a drink. That being said, once my kids are in bed, generally it’s a good night and they all stay in their beds. There are occasional nights that they wake up and when they do, we let them lay on a sleeping bag next to our bed – absolutely NO little ones sleep with us.under.any.circumstance. I learned the hard way that mommy doesn’t get a good night’s sleep with little ones in the bed, and we all know what happens when mommy is grumpy the next day!
Here they are:
1 – I don’t read books to them in bed.ever.period. I have 4 kids peeps, ain’t happening. I would be up til 10 pm trying to get them all read to. I am fortunate, they rarely ask. But if they did, or you love to read to your kids and you have many kids to read to, my best suggestion is to read to them BEFORE putting them to bed. Kids have a tendency to “milk it” when you do something for them and this is NO exception. On those rare occasions that one of the kids ask for a book, I sit on the couch with all of them and read a few books and then it’s bedtime. No chance for “PAHLEASSEEEE – just one more book?”. I’ll even suggest they take the books we didn’t read with them to bed.
2 – Bedtime is FIRM at our house….I make sure everything’s done by their bedtime and if it’s not, oh well, we’ll do it tomorrow. I’m not that parent that rushes around to get everything done before we go to bed. I leave lots of things undone. 8 pm is bedtime around here for all 3 little ones, while my 9 yr old gets to stay up until 9 so that she can watch her shows on tv without the little ones screaming for Spongebob. My kids don’t like to go to bed at 8 pm during the summer, especially since here in Texas, it’s daylight until 9 pm, so for those couple of months that school is out, I allow them to go to bed 30 minutes later. I realize that some of you probably think that my bedtimes are a bit late, it’s really just what worked for us. My husband works extremely long hours and doesn’t get home until almost 8 pm most nights, so this bedtime allows him to be able to see the kids before they go to sleep. The point is, whatever bedtime you choose, the key is CONSISTENCY. It’s hard in the beginning, but I promise (and I speak from experience – I have 4 VERY strong willed kids!) it will become second nature quickly and some nights they might even ask you to go to bed at that time when they get used to it!
3 – For those nights when it’s more difficult to convince them it’s bedtime, for example after coming home from a school play, eating out, visiting grandma, I usually tell them “you have to go to bed, since we have to be up early tomorrow for (the library, the grocery store, etc.)”. Always works for my kids. Heck, I’ve even told them they had to go to bed since we had to be up early to go play in the backyard! 9 times out of 10 it works. Not always, and on those rare occasions that it doesn’t, I let daddy step in and help reinforce that one.
4 – Noise. Plain & simple, my kids sleep better with noise, white noise preferably. Each bedroom has its own sound machine and the kids all sleep with them on at night. It sounds like a symphony of waterfalls in our house at night! But….it works. We live on a very quiet street in a very quiet neighborhood, however….my husband is up at 4 am to go to work & the gym and he is NOT known for being quiet, so this helps prevent them from waking with him. I also like that as some kids get up, the ones that are still sleeping aren’t bothered by them moving around. My husband & I use one and I absolutely CANNOT sleep without one! We even take it on trips!
5 – My last and final (and probably my worst) tip is probably the fact that I allow my kids to take pretty much whatever “aide” they need to take with them to bed. For example, my 3 yr old son loves cars. He went through a phase when we moved where he literally slept with about 20 Matchbox cars each night. My 4 yr old loves to sleep with all her books. As long as it’s not a safety hazard (dolls with laces, puppies you pull along with strings, etc.) I will allow it. I learned a LONG.LONG. time ago that fighting over something like that can turn into one.big.headache and it’s not worth it.Hey, it’s not me having to sleep with 5 little pieces of plastic poking me in the back! 🙂
Well, there you go. Those are my tips and advice on making bedtime with little ones a LITTLE less stressful. Hopefully you can glean some helpful information from it all and perhaps incorporate something into your routine.
Hey, when bedtime’s a nightmare, any piece of advice is worth trying, right? 😉