Bedtime Should not Be A Struggle, but often times it is
After a long day of life and kids, getting the kids to bed on time is the ultimate goal. But kids are smart and can figure out tricks to extend the process and manipulate the system to extend bedtime. And they’re good at this, very good at this. Just as much as you want them in bed, they don’t want to go to bed. Sadly, it is just the way is.
Every Parents Story is different, yet the same
My hubby and I would take turns doing bedtime. One night, I would be in charge of bedtime, and the next night hubby would be. It would alternate every day. Make it fair for everyone.
We both had our own routine for bedtime with the kids, slightly different. One was the mommy style, and one the daddy style, but the general concept was the same, and the ultimate goal was the same. Get the kids to bed.
Kids are smart, and they quickly learned our weak spots. My kids managed to manipulate their dad into a much much much longer bedtime routine. When he did bedtime, it could take up to 2 hours! And it made no sense to me because when I did it, it took no more than 15 minutes. I mean, PJs on, teeth brushed, one story each, and lights out.
One night after hubby finished bedtime I asked what was up? What was he doing in there for so long? And that is when we learned they had daddy wrapped around their little fingers and they were getting extra stories and extra bathroom breaks and more stories and more snuggles and the list went on… and on… and on… for 2 hours…
Sleep is important
Sleep is important for everyone. Adults need a decent amount (7-8 hours a night), but little children need much more. They are growing mentally and physically, and their bodies need sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, toddlers (1-2year old) need between 11 and 14 hours, preschoolers (3 – 5-year-old) required 10-13 hours, and school-agers (up to 13 years) require 9-11 hours.
And losing 2 hours of sleep at the front end, especially when wake-up time is set, can have a huge impact on mental growth and behavior.
We decided we needed to make a plan. A plan that both of us would stick to. And as fun, as it was to have our own renditions of bedtime, this was where the trouble was starting.
So, we came up with a plan. A routine. A very simple picture solution.
We made a check sheet for bedtime. Simple. It was 6 items:
- Pjs – clean pj’s on.
- Teeth brushing – teeth brushed. Either alone or with our help, but teeth brushed.
- Final potty break – one last potty break needs to make sure no one wets the bed.
- Stories – bedtime stories are a must at our house. We let each kid pick out one story.
- Stuffies – final check to make sure all required stuffies/teddy’s are in bed and ready for sleeping
- Lights out – one last good night hug and kiss and lights out!
Every night, they had to complete the list and that was that.
This Sound Too Simple!
You’re right! It does sound too simple! But it’s a great solution to take control of bedtime. I laminated a chart with 6 rows on it. Each row had a picture depicting the activity that needed to be accomplished. My kids each got to mark off the item that they completed. Once the item was done, we moved to the next item. Once an item was done, there was no going back.
A few hurdles along the way
The first day was fun, but after the second or third night, the little ones realized that they no longer had control of extending bedtime into a 2-hour event. So there was some push back, but we calmly explained the rules and that each item could only be done once. By the end of the first week, bedtime was back on a smooth 15-20 minutes from start to finish.
Some Tips I Learned Along The Way
- This list works best if you use pictures. Little kids cannot read… so words are useless for little ones.
- You don’t need to laminate the sheet. You can just print off a bunch and use a clean one each night, or use a pencil.
- If the kids participate they buy into it faster. We had some colorful markers that we could use in the check sheet so the kids had a blast making check marks on items that were done.
- The order of the first 5 items is not curial. You can do teeth brushing after stories, or whatever works best for you.
- Remember, you can only do each item one time.
- Stay consistent! Do not let the children walk all over you. They will follow the rules if you do not break them yourself.
I have lived through this with my kids. These steps work. Just remember, you are the parent, and you are in charge. This is doable and you can do it! You just need to be consistent and make sure you follow through! You can win bedtime and have some semblance of an evening for yourself! I promise! If I could make it work, so can you! Do not wait! Start working on this now!
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