Trust me when I say that I understand bedtime can be hard going. I’ve been there! The end of the day can often indicate exhaustion on all parts, that is tired parents and a tired child or children! Even the mere thought of having to get another human into bed can make you want to surrender to the gods! Anger and frustration can build up, knowing that with every extra moment they are awake, the more tired and sleep deprived they become, only to go through it all again tomorrow!
So how can we make it easier?
In order to answer this question, you need to know what you are comfortable with. What are your limits, what parts of bedtime do you dislike the most (and you can’t say all of it!)? Is it the duration? If this is a problem, try to think of quality over quantity. Is it reading a story? If it is, don’t read one and choose something else as a calm activity to do with your child. Is it getting them dressed? If this is a battle every night, do it earlier, reward them for each leg they put in their pants in the beginning maybe by covering their pyjamas in reward stickers if this is what it takes! Distract them while you dress them. Most importantly don’t worry about how Sue down the road is putting her kids to bed, comparison is the biggest thief of joy on every level!
Know your child
If you have a child with a more spirited temperament, there is a higher chance you will be tested more than someone with a child that processes an angel/textbook style of temperament (another reason why I say do not compare). In this instance, you will need to set clear boundaries (not your child) and be confident in your steps leading up to bedtime in order to keep it clear and consistent for your boundary pushing child to follow!
Bedtime is less likely to go smoothly if your child is already overtired or has passed their ideal bedtime window of sleep, which for most children up until full time school age is between 6-7pm. For more information on this, a blog will be coming soon or cross over to my Instagram or Facebook page and search for my awake time and why an early bedtime post.
Check out our stress limiting tips below.
Establish a bedtime routine. A pattern to bedtime can begin during the newborn phase. Check out our 6 B’s to bedtime in our blog titled “How to create a bedtime routine that works.”
Create a clam relaxing environment. If you prefer to be outside doing something like a walk or a calm push on the swing before a nice relaxing bath, then do it! ⠀
Bore your child to bed! If the routine is too fun and exciting, there is an extremely high chance that they will want more of it!
Softer lighting 30 minutes before bedtime. Bright lights inhibit the production of melatonin, the sleepy hormone that is on our side to help our children get those important sleepy feels! ⠀
Limit devices at least half an hour before bed (1-2 hours is even better). This includes tablets and T.V. The blue light not only interferes with their melatonin production, but it can also fight off their sleepy cues making them seem more awake than they actually are! Another reason to limit devices is it can stimulate emotions that your child may not completely understand. This can lead to more trouble falling asleep and anxiety in doing so, while they try and make sense of these emotions.
Keep positive. This is really important as we do not want them to view bedtime as a negative experience. This could create unnecessary resistance at bedtime.
If you have more than one child, work out if a staggered bedtime works best or if your children respond better to going to bed at the same time. If you have a partner, you may choose to tackle a child or a couple of children each. If you are running bedtime alone, some of these tips will go out of the window. You may choose to do whatever you need to do during this period of life, in order to make bedtime run as smoothly as possible! I get it!
Give yourself plenty of time. If you are calm and relaxed, they are more likely to be too. ⠀
Provide positive attention during the day. This includes some 1:1 time. Even if it’s only 10-15 minutes because you have other kids to worry about, your 10 minutes of undivided attention can reduce the amount they will need to demand at bedtime. ⠀⠀
Know your limits. If your current bedtime routine is causing you more stress, then look at where you can adjust it. If books are not your thing have a quiet meaningful chat instead, if you are happy with 20 kisses before bed then be ok with that! ⠀⠀
Your routine doesn’t have to match anyone else’s…Enough said!⠀⠀
Make it clear what is going to happen and remind them over and over. “5 mins left in the bath”, “remember we have one story tonight and then it’s time to shut our eyes.”⠀⠀
If you have a partner or husband at home, make sure they are on the same page. We don’t want dad initiating a WWF wrestling tournament at story time! ⠀⠀
Make sleep a priority. Set regular sleep and wake times. Their bodies don’t know the difference from a weekday to a weekend, so this helps to keep their sleep on track, resulting in less resistance and overtiredness.
Reduce demands by making sure they have had that toilet trip or a drink BEFORE they get into bed. If they have had this, I can guarantee that they don’t need another wee 15 minutes later, so think again about your limits here. ⠀
Follow the rhythm of their internal body clock. Your child has a natural window for sleep which indicates the best and easiest time to get them to bed. This is usually between 6-7pm right up until school age. ⠀
Awake times too short or too long? This is especially important for infants.⠀
Be committed to staying consistent. Change takes time. ⠀⠀
Even if you have the perfect bedtime for your children, there will always be days things don’t go to plan and that’s ok! Tomorrow is another day!