When one is raising a toddler they quickly learn the vital importance of well-established routines and predictable rituals. We’ve been a blessed family because our daughter has always slept through the night, however, due to our busy lifestyle it’s been hard to put a bedtime routine into place. When our daughter is tired she falls asleep. It’s a fairly simple and effortless plan really. (One that was far more effective in infancy than it is now)
Lately, she has been pushing the limits in many areas. She is figuring out how much she can get away with and if left to fend for herself she would live on chips, cheese, and PBSkids. As parents this phase has been both rewarding as we watch our daughter gain a little bit more independence everyday and exhausting as we seem to deal with daily meltdowns and bad moods.
We are beginning to focus our time and energy into forming a more strict bedtime routine and enforcing a specific time for putting our daughter to bed. The following are the Top 5 tactics we have tried for the bedtime routine:
Goal Bedtime: 9:30pm *We are hoping to lower this time eventually, but she is still used to a pretty late bedtime most evenings so this is still a limiting time to begin with.
1. Bath time: At around 8pm bath time begins. I have even used a little bit of the lavender essential oils in the bath to help with relaxing her.
2. Snack: To avoid bed wetting incidents we have been trying to limit drinking in the evenings, but to help her sleep more soundly we have allowed our daughter a small snack right after bath time.
3. Reading time: Shortly after bath time I allow my daughter to select two books and we cuddle and read together. Lately, she has been expressing a huge interest in reading and is able to sit through longer readings. Occasionally she asks questions and responds to the stories, but more often than not she sits silently in a trance taking in every word and illustration.
4. NO ELECTRONICS after the routine begins: This is a crucial piece for the winding down process. Our daughter loves to independently select her favorite programs using the iPad, however, viewing these shows and using electronic devices is definitely counter productive to creating a sleepy atmosphere. We’ve learned the hard way and after many late nights fighting with her about electronics that we have to set limits which include not using electronic devices before bed.
5. NO LIGHTS ON after the routine begins: Almost as crucial as eliminating electronics is the shutting off of all lights and creating a dark and night-like atmosphere. Since infancy our daughter has responded well to darkness and is much easier to usher in to sleep when the surroundings are dark.
As always I am admitting to my ignorance when it comes to motherhood. There are a lot of lessons I am learning with my first child. I know now that with any additional children we may have that setting a more rigid plan for bedtime and routines will be a top priority from a very young age. It’s so important to regularly make time as a couple without the distraction of children and when your children stay up too late not only are you exhausted as the parent, but you get less of the imperative “mom and dad time.”
This is a fairly new goal in our household. I would love to hear from veteran mom’s out there. What type of routines have you established for bedtime? What works? What doesn’t?
Advice and positive comments are always welcome and appreciated!