Bedtime is always a challenge in my home. Just when I think I have it down, something changes. I know that I’m not alone, so I’m glad that Jenn has some ideas to share with us!
“I slept like a baby!” is one of those sayings I just don’t understand. Most people use it to say they slept well, but have they ever seen how difficult it can be to get a child to sleep? I know firsthand because my first child NEVER slept. He was content to be up all day long without a nap and then up and down all night. He is still, at 9 years old, the kind of kid who just doesn’t need as much sleep as I think he should have. I, however, really enjoy a full night of sleep.
Every parent has difficulty getting their child to sleep sometimes. I’m finding right now it is especially difficult as the days are getting shorter. My children are peeking through the curtains, knowing that bedtime is coming soon.
Having a solid bedtime routine is a must for my family. We have different routines for different times of the day and bedtime is our biggest ritual! Following the same routine each time you get your children to bed really tells their bodies to prepare for sleep. We usually start our routine about an hour before bed because I have 4 children, but if you have less children you could spend less time on your bedtime routine.
Give them a bath
A soothing bath is the perfect start to a calming bedtime routine. We typically use epsom salts and lavender oil in our baths, but chamomile is a good choice too. Refrain from too much playing in the bath. If your child really loves to play, try to encourage them to make up a story about a mermaid who needed to go to sleep, or a fish who wished for a comfy shell to sleep in. This will help keep the mood sleep-themed without your child getting too energized from the play. The bath should be fairly warm and try to keep the room warm as well. We also dim the lights and light some candles, just like Mommy does when she takes a bath 🙂 . Have lots of fluffy towels nearby to wrap your child up in after bathing and a lovely scented lotion is great too. Even my older children who normally shower still like to take a bath in the evening.
Read a bedtime story or use an audiobook
I have a confession to make……I almost never read bedtime stories to my children anymore. I read to them all day long, multiple times a day and sometimes by evening my voice is worn out! I used to read 2 or 3 stories each night, but I found something better. Our family uses Sparkle Stories every evening. My children especially love the Martin and Sylvia stories, but they also have Sparkle Bedtime stories that are great for bedtime as well. I have to admit, on occasion I have peacefully drifted to sleep with my children while we listen because David Sewell McCann’s voice is so soothing and comforting to us. Give them a try with a 10-day trial, I’m sure your children will love the stories as much as mine do.
Sing a bedtime song and say a prayer
You don’t have to be a great singer to sing to your child. Children enjoy the sound of their mother and father’s voices even if they are slightly off-key so don’t worry about being perfect. The prayer doesn’t have to have any special religious meaning behind it. We say a short little bedtime verse, but even something small can make a difference. It would be really special if you made up your own sweet verse with your child. They will cherish it for the rest of their lives.
I get a lot of questions about co-sleeping and what I think about it. I think that if co-sleeping works for your family, then go for it! My children have been sleeping in their own bed, in their own room since the day I weaned them. Honestly we didn’t have much trouble because my two boys share a room and my two girls share a room so they never feel lonely at night. We still have a child or two knock on our door at night with a complaint or needing a bathroom trip and they want to come snuggle with us. In this case we have a special family rule. If it’s after 3AM they can sleep in our bed or a makeshift bed on the floor next to our bed. If it’s before that they can come snuggle for a minute or two and then we gently bring them back to their bed. We sing our bedtime song and do our verse again and usually this is enough to get them happily back to sleep.
Make them a bedtime friend
Some children already have a beloved stuffed animal or doll and that’s great! But if they don’t you should think about making something special just for them. If you’re not great with sewing or knitting thats okay, there are many Mamas on etsy who would be happy to work with you and your budget to get your child the perfect sleeping friend. You could also make them a Dream Pillow, like the one in our Happy Hedgehog Post envelope for the month of September! This pillow is filled with lovely smelling rose petals, lavender, and mugwort for a peaceful night and sweet dreams.
Don’t be afraid to change that routine
So now that I’ve told you all the things I usually do for bedtime, I’m giving you my greatest secret. If it’s not working, CHANGE IT! I have tried to add things what other Mama’s do to our bedtime routine that sound like wonderful ideas, but in the end they just don’t work for us. It’s okay. I keep those ideas in my toolkit in case we need to add something in the future. Don’t stress about it too much, it should feel relaxing for you too. If it feels to hurried or hectic, give yourself extra time.
Thanks, Jenn! My boys try to hype each other up at bedtime, which leads to melt downs and staying up too late. So, I look forward to trying a few of these this week in an effort to slow things down.
Have a bedtime tip? Love this post? Let us know in the comments! I read each and every comment and truly appreciate all who take the time to read our posts.