Hey parents, trying to juggle that new school year with new bedtimes? We hear you! It’s hard to make sure you’ve got all your ducks in a row, and with all the changes in routines, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and disorganized.
We thought this might be an awesome place to share some of our tried and true (most of the time) tips and see if any one is willing to share one or two of their best kept tricks to getting those little ones down for the night.
First off, it’s important to know how much sleep your kids should be getting related to their age. This helps in knowing what time you should be aiming to get them into bed, lights out by counting backward from when you need them up and out the door. For example, if your 5 year old needs to be at school by 9 am and it takes about an hour to get moving each day, bedtime should be starting around 7 pm. Starting a few minutes early allows for those unforeseen “I need my other jammies!” “where is that ________?” , and an “ok, one more_____, then lights out.)” Bed time rarely goes like clock work, but allowing time help parents breathe easier and not stress themselves out. Hey, what harm is done if you get out the door 10 minutes “early?” Maybe a little grown up bowl of ice cream and some Bravo, shhhhhh, don’t jinx yourself!
Once you know your timing, its important to figure out what all you want done in that time we’re calling ‘bedtime.” Are we talking teeth, jammies, book, and bed? Or packing back packing, picking out clothing, bath time, followed by teeth, jammies, book, bed? I think it is ideal to be realistic and flexible each day. We all know the dead line aka lights out, but we also know know two days are the same so no two bedtimes will go exactly the same. I’m a big fan of having visuals and/or to-do lists. It keeps me/us focused and it’s rewarding to see things being accomplished. There are a ton of free printables online or just make your own according to your families needs. I really like a quick and easy list or this little longer list for those who are a little more independent (guess where I found them- pinterest of course!).
Once the routine has begun, I find it best to stick as close to the “schedule” as possible. Kids are always looking for a way to stay up a little later and as adults, I think we often get played for fools. If you give an inch, they’ll take a mile…and the will keep that reinforcement in their memory for the next evening or poor sucker who tries to put them down. Bedtime shouldn’t be a battle but it often is. Looking back, how often did the adult in the situation keep saying “well, ok, one more but this is the last one…” or “fine, go get some water, then lights out.” I sure am guilty of it. And I then find myself guilty of being in that same hamster wheel almost daily. Lesson learned! I understand the importance of sleep on growing minds/bodies and realize schedules help the flow move smoothly in our home so I don’t mind being the “bad guy” and saying we need to save a story or two for the morning. I’d rather not end up with an over tired monster who can’t get to sleep or stay asleep.
Every family is different, every routine varies. The key to your success is to find the “recipe” that works best in your household. Maybe it’s an all family story time, followed by soft music in each bedroom. Maybe it’s song during teeth, and stories in tub. Maybe you’re a house of artists and do a little drawing session in dim lights. Whatever you do, just keep bedtime a calm and quiet time- this is not the time to have a dance party or wrestle mania (however, not a bad idea after dinner to get those final wiggles out)! Dim the lights, turn off the screens, stop the chatter, calm the mind and body.
Rest and repeat.