I know way too many moms who dread, absolutely DREAD, bedtime. They put it off as much as they can, because they know... it's going to take hours.
Well ladies, I'd like to revolutionize your thinking; repeat after me: "I love bedtime." Really, say it - right now, out loud: I love bedtime.
I do. And my clients do. In fact, one of my clients wrote to me that one of the biggest positive changes after we were done was: "We now have a bedtime routine that helps him settle down at night. The bedtime routine is everything a mother would want to do with her child anyway! Pjs, brushing teeth, reading a book, singing a song, hugs and kisses..."
And that's exactly it: Everything a mother would want to do with her child. That's why I love bedtime.
So let's revolutionize your bedtime with my top 5 Bedtime Tips:
You want to aim for that perfect bedtime between 6 and 8 pm, and I love the happy medium of 7 pm. Why is that the perfect time? The way our circadian cycles work is that we have rises and dips, times that we're more awake and times that we're more sleepy, over the course of the day. 6-8 pm is a dip, after which comes a rise of a couple hours. If you miss that time frame, you're at risk of your child struggling to fall asleep as he fights against his circadian cycle.
Nighttime sleep is the most important sleep over a 24-hour day - even for infants and napping toddlers. If that last nap (or only nap) is edging too close to bedtime, it'll mean that your child is not yet tired, and won't want to go to sleep, making bedtime frustrating for both of you. If necessary, be sure to cap that last nap so that your child will be at the end of his awake time limit when bedtime rolls around.
As bedtime approaches, let your little one know what's coming by pre-empting it with your key phrase.
Routines are like magic (okay, I know I say that about key phrases too, but really - they are!). They put us into autopilot and enable us to seamlessly segue from being awake into being asleep. Building a good, consistent bedtime routine for your child will enable him or her to move from one bedtime activity to the next, and settle down quicker. A good bedtime routine should last 20-30 minutes, and be the same exact steps in the same exact order every single day.
Allowing your child to make the journey to sleep on his own from infancy will enable them to fall asleep on his own later in life too. Regardless of your child's age, though, it's never too late to give him the tools to make the journey into sleep on his own - and turn bedtime from a power struggle into the snuggly end of the day it ought to be.
Do you have a toddler or pre-schooler? I've got a couple extra tips for you!
This one is a biggy for older children. Once they start developing their own independence, they will often start pushing boundaries to figure out where their control ends and their parents' control starts. Giving in to them, though, will make them feel insecure about your ability to protect and take care of them, and will start a downward spiral of moving boundaries.
Make your rules and expectations very clear to your child, and be sure to be 100% consistent with them, regardless of the situation.
While your child does need you to build structure and consistency, she also needs to learn how to make choices. At this age, start small with inconsequential choices (which pajamas she wants to wear, bedtime now or in 2 minutes, wash face first or brush teeth, read this book or that one, etc.). It will give them the control and independence they need, and help them learn how to choose - while keeping you in charge.