At my house, there is a fine line between having a successful bedtime routine and ending the night with a lot of tears. Although I am a more relaxed parent, I rarely waiver on the bedtime routine. And, at 8:30, my kids are, usually, both happily in dreamland. Establishing a consistent bedtime routine at an early age will help you squash nighttime meltdowns.
Naps Are Important
You may not think something that happens in the afternoon would affect your child’s bedtime routine. However, a good afternoon nap is essential to helping your child be happy in the evening hours. If my son misses his nap, we will have, what I like to call, the 6 o’clock meltdown. Thus, during naptime I try to be home or somewhere (like a shady spot at the park) where my son can lay down and get some zzzzs. You may think, skipping the nap will make your child more tired at night. However, according to the Sleep Lady, “the more overtired you allow your child to get, the more wired he’ll get.” Thus, if possible, don’t skip the nap.
When we are invited over for dinner at a friend’s house, I always start the social event early (5 or 5:30). This ensures that we have plenty of time to socialize and leave by 7:00. After all, my baby isn’t one that will transport well from his car seat to his crib. If he misses his bedtime routine, it’s likely he will wake up in the middle of the night. If we want to stay out late, we will have a family member watch the kids.
During bath time, my kids never act out. In fact, if anyone is acting fussy, I might let them take a little longer bath than usual. Keep the bath warm, not cold. And, a little lavender scented soap (find a naturally scented one) will help calm down irritable kids.
My daughter would probably pick out 20 stories to read every night. However, we usually read her about three. My son is now old enough to sit down for a bedtime story too. Sometimes, if my daughter is a little more awake, I will let her quietly look at books while I get ready for bed. Then, I come back to tuck her in and say goodnight.
I always give my toddler a little back rub. It prevents him from crying and soothes him. My daughter likes her back scratched so I will usually do this for a few minutes before leaving the room. When my kids were babies, I would give them a little massage with lotion.
Going to Sleep Drowsy, but Awake
When my kids were newborns, they would often fall asleep while nursing. However, I tried to put them to sleep drowsy, but awake. Now, most times when I put my son in his crib, he won’t cry, even if he is awake. He knows that it’s bedtime because it’s part of his routine.
There will be times when your kids don’t want to go to bed. It’s important to be firm and tell them it’s bedtime. Although this can be hard, I believe that a good night’s sleep is vital for a child’s health.
A bedtime routine can help kids (and the parents) get a good night’s sleep.
More from Melissa:
Irritable Children? How to Banish a Case of the ‘Grumpies’ in Your Home
Kids and Manners: It’s a Lost Art
Why Pinterest Makes Me Feel like an Inadequate Mom