Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sleep Routines

Night time can be difficult in many households with kids. The children always stall going to bed, the parents get upset and stressed, the kids pick up the same emotions and every night becomes a battle. There are many great suggestions out there about obtaining a peaceful bed time routine and these are some of our favorites.

Allow enough time. Many parents work full time and find themselves having to multi-task all day and night. When it comes to getting the kids in bed we want a quick fix. That is not usually possible. Kids often time feel like they are missing out on something super fun when they have to go to bed. They stall and stall so they do not miss a second. In many households the bed time routine is an hour or longer and that is okay. Sit down and write out your schedule and how long you believe it will take to get each part of the routine completed. That evening when you are getting ready for bed, keep in mind how long it actually took, did you underestimate the time?

I underestimate time with my own child all the time. His books are short so I should be able to read a book in less than 5 minutes. I did not take into consideration that he always wants me to read it at least 3 times, never less than that. I also have to stop while he makes up little stories about the pictures on the pages. Reading time is never less than 25-30 minutes in our nightly bedtime ritual. I used to get frustrated with this until I sat down and considered the fact that this is the best one on one time I have had with my son all day! We are snuggled together, enjoying one another, expanding his vocabulary and picture recognition.

Another struggle in our house is which pajamas to wear. Some days it seems that my 4 year old son is really a teen age girl that is very particular about what she wears out of the house. It used to drive me bonkers! We have a new routine now though, he is given 2 sets of pajamas to pick from. I then leave the room and let him ponder his decision while I prepare a small snack. When I come back of he still has not decided, he gets to the count of three to pick on his own or I will pick the pajamas. At first, I picked his pajamas most nights but now he usually is ready to get dressed when I come back into the room.

As for that evening snack, he is allowed something light and a cup of milk. Snack usually consists of blueberries, watermelon, pretzel sticks or veggie chips. It does not consist of candy, cakes or pies even though that is what he usually asks for. If he is given something too sweet, it just makes bedtime more difficult.

I will also admit that since having my son, my teeth get brushed a lot! I brush at my normal times that I always have and then when it is time for my son to brush his teeth, I have to brush mine again. We also had to purchase him a battery operated toothbrush. It is a small price to pay not to have to fight over tooth brushing every day. If he is being especially difficult I will turn on the music and we dance and brush at the same time.

Does your child get out of the bed for a potty trip, one more drink and one more hug after you put them down for the night? Try giving them Get out of Bed Free Tickets. I have attached a sample for you to print. If your child gets out of the bed 5 times on average now, give them only 4 tickets. Each time they get out of the bed, they have to give you a ticket. After a week or two, remove one of their tickets. Keep weaning away the tickets until the child has just one ticket per evening. If you would like them not to get out of bed at all, you could set up a schedule and reward them for going several nights without using a ticket. For example, if you go 5 nights without using a ticket we will go to the pool together. Then user a calendar on the refrigerator to mark the days that tickets are not used.

What is your bedtime routine?

Is bedtime in my household always easy and perfect? Of course not, but since planning ahead it has gotten easier. There are nights that go without a problem and then other nights I am exhausted by the time he gets into bed.

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