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Friday, September 25, 2009

Tricks for a Smooth Bedtime Routine

By Rachel H

A few weeks ago, I wrote about making your morning routine easier. Hopefully we gave you a few helpful hints! Today we are going to focus on nighttime and how to avoid chaos before bed as well as avoiding the “Mooooom, I want a glass of water” routine!

My children go through spurts where sometimes they will get into bed without a problem, I’ll close the door, and we don’t see them again until the morning. Other times they will come up with every excuse in the book to get out of bed and prolong falling asleep. What works for us is simply making sure they have everything they need before I kiss them goodnight and shut the door. I ask, “Did you brush your teeth, use the bathroom, wash hands & face, have a sip of water, read a book, say your prayers, etc...?” We usually end up laughing about it because we’ll come up with a million other silly things in the list. We go over everything to make sure there is not a reason to get out of bed, and nine times out of ten it works.

Other kids may take a little more effort to control the nighttime routine. I have heard many parents struggle with the whole act of actually getting the child into bed. One idea that may work is a chart where you have pictures of each step a child must complete before bedtime. (Put on PJ’s, brush teeth, etc.) Many times, the simple act of getting a sticker next to the step on the chart when it is completed, is enough to keep your child on task.

Some parents have trouble with their children because their kids want them to rock them to sleep, sit with them, or even sleep next to them for while. If you enjoy doing these things, take advantage of it, cuddle with your kids and cherish it. If you are the type of parent who has had plenty of time with your kid throughout the rest of the day and is just ready to get them to sleep, my best advice is not to even start these habits. Believe me, I loved rocking my kids when they were babies, but as they got older, I always made the bedtime routine a quick process with a book, prayer, and kiss. I try to cuddle and sit with my kids at other times during the day instead. And every once in a while if I want to cuddle and sing with my kiddos before bed, it is a welcome event, but not a necessity.

As far as infants and babies go, this blog we ran a while back had some great advice from Dr. Albertini. Katie also wrote this blog on Co-Sleeping, which got some great responses.

My friend, Carolyn, has four kids, and has one who has always been the “problem bedtimer." She came up with a great strategy that I asked her to share with you today...

"Maegan is my problem bed timer. She never gets her stuff done and is constantly hopping out of bed or bothering her older sister, Hannah (they share a room). So we decided to make a pull tab chart, (like you see on bulletin boards when someone needs a roommate and you can pull off the phone number to call). Each pull tab had something different on it.
Some examples are:
15 minutes of mommy time (she could choose any activity and have my undivided attention for that time)
Get a hug from Daddy
Extra story at bed time
A piece of candy
Get out of time-out free
15 minutes computer time
Play a board game
Basically anything that seems exciting to a kid. We'd hang the pull tabs up every night, (a little labor intensive because you have to have a set of pull tabs for every night - but honest to God; it works like a charm).

The rules are as follows: I don't reprimand or say anything. She gets ready for bed, gets in, and that's that. If at any time while she's getting ready she gets off track or misbehaves, I calmly pull off one of the tabs without saying anything. If she gets out of bed after we say good night, same thing. You get the idea. Whatever tabs she's left with, whether it's one or all of them; she has the power to hand them out during the day and receive the privilege. If she keeps all the tabs, she gets all the privileges. She could even hand me the 'piece of candy' tab before breakfast and she got it. Her favorite was the 'mommy and me' time or the 'daddy and me time.' We had some fun Polly Pocket and Barbie adventures. Anyway, in all the time we did this, she only ever lost ONE tab. And this is a kid who was IMPOSSIBLE at bed time before we tried this. This is hands down the best method I've ever found for curing a bad bed time routine."

Hopefully something you read here today will help make bedtime a calm, happy, time without arguments or punishments. If you have had problems in the past and found a great solution, please share below. OR if you are still struggling in this area, post your concern below. I’m sure there is a Smarty Mom out there who can give you an idea to help!


Maythi said...

Oh my goodness. Don't even get me started on bedtime routines. We tried EVERYTHING with our oldest and NOTHING ever worked. It was horrific. Especially for first time parents (which was probably part of the problem anyway). We rocked her to sleep as a baby (in my opinion, BAD idea) and we struggled with her until she was almost 3 years old!! I was one of those parents who swore I would NEVER let my kid sleep with me, but it was the only thing that was allowing us to sleep. Finally, we gave in and let her crawl in bed with us when she would wake in the middle of the night. We figured she'd just outgrow it eventually. Everyone kept saying, "She won't be 15 and crawling into bed with you" - this was no comfort to two people who wanted her to stop crawling in bed with us NOW!! Anyway, our nights were getting horrible when we'd have to get her back in bed, she'd get back up and cry and scream. It wasn't worth it. We let her get up and crawl in bed with us, but she started to lose privileges in the morning if she got out of bed. Eventually (and I mean eventually) it stopped. Now, we have no issues at all. We have a second child who falls asleep on her own, who I never rocked to sleep, and who sleeps all night long. We feel like we won the lottery!! Ha ha! S
So good luck to all of you going through this. It was no consolation to us at the time, but this too shall pass! Believe us, if we survived, you can too!!!

Anonymous said...

I agree that you should not even start the acts of lying down with your kids at night unless you plan to do it for a really long time! We make bedtime a very laid-back time that is not so rigid. We have benefitted from this because anyone can put my children to bed in any setting without a problem. No cries for only wanting mommy to put them to bed and no cries for a book that was left in the car. It is so nice for all of us.

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