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I don’t know about you, but my kids just don’t like to stay in bed. My one year old spends about an hour in her crib per night (maybe) before she comes into bed with us, and my five year old doesn’t like to be in her room by herself so she usually ends up in our room as well. She also has the habit of constantly needing water, a snack, or anything else that might warrant a chance to get out of bed.
Getting kids to go to bed and stay there all night can be a challenge. When my oldest was three, we had a really tough time, so I created an incentive game for her. You can read all about it in my article published by Thriving Family Magazine here. You can even print up your own Bedtime Game Board!
Some things I’ve learned over the years, whether from my own experience or from others, is that a solid and consistent bedtime routine really does help create foundation for good sleeping habits. Here are some tips that I have found helpful over the past five years of motherhood:
I’m the first one to admit that sometimes I am just too tired to read bedtime stories. It’s late and I just want to get the girls in bed and be done with it. However, I have found that on the nights I actually take the time to read to them, they are calmer and go down easier. On those nights, my youngest still cries when I put her in her crib, but she cries for a shorter amount of time. I don’t know if its the books or just the quality time, but reading at night really makes a difference for our family. Here is a list of some great bedtime books. Just click on the ones that interest you for my reviews.
God’s Promises for Girls by Jack Countryman and Amy Parker
Heaven is for Real for Kids as told by Colton Burpo
Children’s Favorite Bible Stories compiled by Tama Fortner
I Love You No Matter What by J. Rutland
I Love You to God and Back by Amanda Lamb
Shine Your Light Devotional by Sheila Walsh
Prayers for Girls by Gabrielle Mercer
2. Start your routine early
My husband goes to work super early in the morning, and thus is usually hitting the sack by 8pm. By the time everyone is fed and bathed, we usually only have an hour to spend together. I really try to soak up every minute of him that I can, so lately, our bedtime routine has been rushed. The nights we do begin bedtime early, though, are the ones that seem to work out much better. Heading to the girls’ room a half an hour or even an hour before bedtime makes the routine more relaxed, and the girls, especially my five year old, feel like they’re getting the time with me they crave so much. Our one year old is quite the cling-on, and I don’t always give my oldest the attention she needs. When we begin bedtime early, I have really seen a difference in her behavior and demeanor. We have plenty of time for stories, prayers, and songs when we start early. Taking is slow seems to be the key to a smooth transition into sleep mode.
3. Turn of the tube
When I can’t sleep I have the horrible habit of turning on the TV. I know the brightness of the screen only makes me more awake and less likely to find my way back to dreamland, but its a comfort thing. Because of this bad habit, I have allowed our oldest to fall asleep to a show at night. This was an easy habit to form but has been so difficult to break. She gets so upset now when we say “No TV tonight.” In the past year, I have really grown to love audio books. I find falling asleep to a good book relaxes me, only furthering my point about reading to the girls before bed. I have tried to get my oldest on audio books as well. She really loves listening to them. I only wish our library had more of a selection for her age. We do have some Adventures in Odyssey and other stories on CD that she likes to listen to over and over, though. If I can get her switched over from video to audio completely, I’ll be a happy camper.
4. Make bath time a nightly thing
Our doctor insists that adding a bath to the bedtime routine for our girls is important. It relaxes them and will work as a trigger signalling that bedtime, is indeed, approaching. We use a nice lavender bath wash, and I have started to play soothing music in the girls’ room beforehand so that when they go back in after their bath, the atmosphere has changed from “play place” to “sleep space”.
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This week’s featured posts…
I really liked this idea from Focus on the Family. They suggest that if your children are battling bedtime to allow them to literally “stay up”, having them stand (not sit) alone in a separate room of the house. Bed will look a lot more appealing after ten or fifteen minutes of that. Just thinking about it makes me sleepy!
Check out these Creative Consequences from iMOM. My favorite is idea #4 for a homemade “correction can”. We have something similar to this in our house. I really think rewards and consequences can play a huge role in motivating kids to obey.
Lastly, I thought this idea for a Sleepytime Book over at Parenting.com was unique. Having your little one create a book about going to bed might help them understand their sleeping arrangement a little better.
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