It happens every night, but for some reason, kids act like tonight is the first time you've ever asked them to put on pajamas and sleep in their own bed. Countless drinks of water and several bedtime stories are needed before you can even think about turning off the light. Bedtime is an exhausting routine, with you as its only advocate. Some clever parents of the Internet have shared in this struggle, but have also shared some rather ingenious solutions to make bedtime an absolute breeze:
What time is it?
Get your kids involved in their own bedtime routine with this clever idea. Parent Laura Webster contributed her brilliant clock idea to this Buzzfeed post. With an inexpensive clock and some stellar "coloring in the lines" skills, Laura created a color-coded routine that her 3-year-old could keep track of. This smart momma divided up the day into sections, using different colors to signify different activities that happened each day. Laura used "blue" for sleep times, letting her daughter get a visual heads-up to when bedtime is on the horizon. Brilliant.
Part of the bedtime problem could be a classic case of FOMO: fear of missing out. If your child goes to bed but hears laughter, music, and ice cream being eaten downstairs, it's going to be difficult to stay in the covers. If that's the case with your kid, try having a quiet bedtime routine for everyone in the family. This might mean getting into pajamas all together 10 or 15 minutes before the youngest goes to bed. Set up time to have a little snack and a small glass of water a few minutes later as a family, then head upstairs for a story and tooth brushing. Doing this routine all together will relax the mood in the house, making it easier to transition from playtime to bedtime. Though YOU don't need to get to bed by 8, it'll help you little one rest easy, thinking they're not missing out on a single thing.
NPR recently reported on the brilliance of the "bedtime pass." Similar to how a hallpass would work at school, this bedtime pass really is a stroke of pure genius. A 5x7 bedtime pass gives the child one chance per night to leave his or her bedroom. Whether that be for an extra kiss goodnight, another glass of water, or to recount a scary dream, it's up to them. But once the one-time pass is used up that night, that's it - no more wandering outside the bedroom. The idea is to help kids fall asleep on their own, instead of keeping themselves and parents up with a laundry list of requests.
Countless parenting websites and advice columns will stress the importance of keeping a regular bedtime schedule. Kids, on the other hand, aren't such big fans of this so-called schedule. But stickers might help. You can help kids visualize their bedtime routine by creating a bedtime schedule complete with stickers or check points. Kids will get excited about crossing off each activity on their list. Have them color pictures of figures brushing teeth, in pajamas, reading a bedtime story, etc. Putting a sticker on, or crossing off each item can help cultivate some excitement about bedtime.
Switching from lego time to bedtime is alarming at any age. Set up a warning system to ease your child into the idea that bedtime is just around the corner. Verbal countdowns starting from 15 minutes to 10 minutes, then your last warning at 5 more minutes give everyone the chance to mentally prepare for bedtime. Doing so will hopefully eliminate the need for you child to beg you for more time to play, when you've already alerted them that sleep time is coming up fast.
While these tricks of the trade are worth trying out, it's no use if the bedtime atmosphere is all wrong. Don't use their bedrooms as a place to spend time-outs. Keeping kids in their room as a form of punishment is going to create some negative feelings about that space. Have kids pick out a nightlight and leave a stuffed animal night watch for those worried about monsters. Figuring out what works best for your little kiddos will hopefully result in blissful nights of sound sleep " for the whole family.