I gotta say I wholeheartedly disagree with Scary Mommy on one of these points…having a consistent bedtime routine is 100% key to having a good sleeper. Even a good sleeper won’t ALWAYS be a good sleeper. Nothing is linear with kids and teething, nightmares, travel, etc will all affect your routine. In my experience baths are key too. You know how exhausted you get after a good long swim you feel? It works on kids- not initially putting them to bed, but once they are in bed. I’m lucky a SAHM I might have the most boring evenings in the world, but at least once my first was 6 months old I had might nights 7:30pm onwards to myself- with the occasional mid-night wake ups usually around 3am and sometimes it was a nightmare, sometimes he wet the bed or had a really big poo. Now that he’s two it’s almost never.
Here’s my routine, let’s pick a bedtime of 7pm
- 5:30pm: Final dinner/snack served
- 6pm: Playtime
- 6:30pm Bathtime
- 6:45 Brushing teeth
- 6:50 oil down with coconut oil/mini massage, put pjs on
- 7pm: in bed, story time, sleep
Top Four Tips to getting it together
- Get Help! Ideally with one kid or multiples it’s easier if you and your partner take turns with part of the routine (gives the other a “break” for part of it) but if you and/or your partner work shifts take turns on the bedtime routine. If neither are home consistently at the same time for your kids- get a caregiver to do it- family can be free but if you put an ad up on kijiji (or flyer in your local grocery store if you’re old school) you can definitely find a high school or University student looking for a little extra cash a week or sometimes even a widow/er/retiree needing something to do with their evenings. An hour/hour and a half a day wouldn’t be too expensive ($10/day)
- Tire them out! Ensure playtime is as active as possible- if you have an only child you may need to get involved. If you don’t have a backyard/font area they can run around/ride bikes/play in then play tag or make races up and down the halls, If the weather is nice take a twenty minute walk. If you want something more low key- do yoga together.
- Be a dictator! It’s REALLY hard-especially if you’ve allowed it in the past but no additional snacks or drinks of water after final food is served. If you make sure they’re sufficiently fed you can feel better knowing their tummies are full so relieve the guilt. Tantrums will ensure at the beginning, maybe even time outs/etc but stick to your guns- within a few days the requests will disappear Same goes with getting up from bed. I followed Jo Frost’s routine of first saying “good night/kiss and return them to bed then silently returning them to bed no attention, no eye contact repeatedly until they get it. Again super hard the first day or maybe two but within a couple of days it’s over,
- Relax! The routine starting at playtime should get progressively more relaxed, calm and darker. Brush your teeth with them if they have a hard time keeping to that, then the oil down/pjs and story time should be done with minimal light (just enough for you to read) keep a night light if you’ve already started with one but no light shows/sound machines. Nothing that sings or moves. There should be absolutely nothing stimulating in the room at that point.
How does it work for your family?