Q. Bedtime is chaos in our house. My kids are always getting out of bed and it's usually 10 o’clock before they're asleep. I'm exhausted! What can I do to get them to go to bed and stay there?
There's a reason all the good TV shows are on at 8 and 9 o’clock! With the children nestled all snug in their beds, that's supposed to be mama's time to sit down and relax (or do laundry, make lunches...a mama's work is never done after all). It's time to reclaim your evening, for your sake as much as the kids'.
1) Pick a bedtime: Children need sleep. Some parents will argue that their children operate just fine in spite of an 11 o’clock bedtime, but in reality their little brains and bodies need time to recharge and grow. Bedtime should be between 7 and 8pm. (Some kids need to go to bed earlier if they're starting to phase out naps).
2) Keep wake up times the same: Tempting as it is to enjoy your coffee in peace on Saturday morning while the kiddos sleep in, it is best to keep a consistent wake up time.
3) Bedtime routine: People think I'm crazy when I say 'time for bed' and my son is still bouncing off the walls looking wide awake. But five minutes into our bedtime routine and he's curled up on my lap with his blanket and rubbing his eyes. Whether it's bath time, stories or lullabies, your kids will learn that these things mean 'sleep' and will start to wind down.
4) Playtime is over: After a nice bedtime and everyone is tucked in, the fun stops. You've said your “goodnights” and “I love you’s”, now you mean business. If they're climbing out of bed, go in and put them back to bed with only a “Stay in your bed, please” and then leave the room. Sure you may have to do it 50 times the first few nights, but consistency is key and they'll soon get bored if they know you're really serious and they aren't going to be able to squeeze another story or glass of water out of you.
Nanny Carrie's Tip:
For the little ones: Starting very young, have a certain song that you play just for bath or bed time. They'll learn to associate the song with winding down at the end of the day.
For the bigger kids: After bedtime routine, start letting your child have some time to read quietly in bed by themselves. It will start training them to wind down independently and give them a sense of pride in being able to stay up later than their younger siblings.