"There was never a child so lovely but his mother was glad to get him to sleep."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
I couldn't agree with you more, Mr. Emerson! I love my children to pieces, but by the end of the night, I am ready for some "me" time. That means off to bed, little ones!
I was always slightly embarrassed to reveal my children's bedtime of 7:30 p.m., but I know that they need about 12 hours of sleep and that they wake up at 7:00 a.m. regardless of their bedtime. However, it still made me feel a bit of a party pooper when I heard others talking about getting their kids to bed much later.
Having two children now (ages 5 and almost 3) who go to bed easy-peasy and sleep well through the night, I will gladly take on the role of "Debbie Downer" in order to avoid the nightmarish bedtimes that I've heard are experienced by other parents.
It's never too late to start a nighttime routine that will help you get your little ones ready for bed and tucked in at a child- and parent-friendly hour each day. Here are some pretty simple steps you can follow to make bedtime a breeze.
Also provide "quiet time" for kiddos who no longer want to nap. As much as possible, naps should happen in the same place where your kids sleep at night.
For example, our routine goes like this: cleanup time after dinner, fruit and a cup of milk, bath time, pajamas, story time, brushing teeth, toilet, one last story and bed (followed by lights out, lullabies and prayers).
Tip: Older children may dawdle when cleaning up or getting dressed, so using a timer to make a game of it may help.
I can't stress this enough. In order to have a more peaceful and successful bedtime, you must follow your routine every day, the same way!
Children are often afraid of the dark, and they might demonstrate this by refusing to go to bed at night or by waking up in the middle of the night to sneak into bed with you. A night-light may help your child feel more secure and may make bedtime easier.
Children like to be close to their parents, and if their parents are not near, a soft, warm teddy bear or blanket will help soothe children to sleep. An object that will remind your kids of you can help, too, especially if they are sleeping away from home.
Try not to give in if your little ones are resisting going to sleep. Empathize with them but remain firm on the hour you have chosen for bedtime. At the same time, once your bedtime routine is well-established, reward your kiddos with an occasional "late night" when they can stay up to watch a movie or play a game.
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