The kids’ bedtime is both my favorite and most dreaded part of the day. Getting kids out of bed in the morning and dressed and ready for school is a lot of work, but it’s manageable. The trick is to keep everybody moving until they’re moving their way out the door. Helping four school-aged kids with homework after school is a lot to handle, but it keeps my mind active. And my kids are good students. Dinner-preparation hour is often the crazy hour at our house. The kids are tired and restless. Their after-school melancholy has disappeared, they’ve finished their chores and their homework, and they either want my attention (in the form of endless questions and hanging on to my legs)….or they are getting on each other’s nerves.
To put it mildly, when bedtime rolls around, I am ready. I want those kids in bed, and I have never quite understood their hesitation to GO to bed or stay in bed once I leave the room. When do people change from fighting sleep like it’s a punishment to craving sleep like it’s a treat?
I have been putting children to bed now for 13 years this month. I have not always been successful at it, but I have learned a few things along the way. Here are a few tips that have worked for us. Now if only I could remember all of them on any given night….
1- Develop a bedtime routine (that’s a given, isn’t it?). Brush teeth, go potty, get dressed in pjs, read a story, etc. Do whatever it is that relaxes your child.
2- Make bed time a happy time. I realized many years ago that I wanted my kids to get to sleep so desperately that it was an angry time. I was making the act of going to bed something that they were being punished to do. Instead, I try to make story time a pleasant, cuddly time. And often, I will snuggle with the little kids in their bed.
3- Make the rest of the house really boring. There’s nothing more frustrating to a child trying to go to sleep than laughing or tv sounds coming from downstairs. The more we turn off lights and limit our activities for a while, the faster the kids will settle down ad go to sleep.
4- Find out what helps your child sleep and implement it into the routine. For one child it’s having the door closed. For another, it’s playing the “bedtime playlist” on the iPod. Yet another loves to sleep with a fan blowing towards her bed. I personally like to sleep with a sound machine. Figuring out what helps each child fall asleep and stay there can be tricky (it takes some trial and error) but it is so worth it!
5- Keep your kids active during the day. Nothing produces deep, night-long sleep like some good tiring play earlier in the afternoon.
What are your tips and tricks for getting your kids to have a good night’s sleep?
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