Let's talk about bedtime routines!
When you have your first baby, you are able to luxuriate over this time together. But I have to hand it to first-time-mom Monica: I knew even then that I didn't want to set myself up for a looooong routine each night that my baby would then demand the rest of its life. I'm glad for that, because now that we have three kids we really just want them to go the heck to sleep at bedtime, and fast.
Once the kids are in their pajamas and teeth are brushed, we try to keep our time with them short and sweet. So we say prayers, read scriptures (trying to be better about this, but it's about 3 times a week lately), and then tuck them in and run out of their room and straight into the arms of Netflix. (Just kidding, we usually have dishes to wash and a house to tidy.) I read the kids plenty of books, sing lots of songs, etc. during the day, so I am just mentally DONE by bedtime. Does that make me a bad mom?
When Brad is home, we usually divide and conquer: one takes the baby, the other takes the older two. Once the baby is down, that person joins the other parent in helping the other two to finish getting ready and into bed.
(Sidenote: I relish saying goodnight to the baby on his own. He rarely gets just me and we both seem to mutually enjoy that little bit of time. I like to turn off the lights and just rock him for a minute (I'm standing up though, because if I sit in the rocker he immediately sits up and wants to read books); then I say my own little prayer with him and set him down, and stroke his face for a little bit and tell him, "It's night-night time!" before sneaking out. He holds so still when I do that! I love it!)
Our older two share a room so we have been through EVERYTHING to get them to sleep in the same room and at the same time. We are finally there--they go down at the same time, and wake up at the same time. Or at least, they stay quiet (usually) when they're put down and until they are allowed to wake up. Who knows when they actually fall asleep and wake up in there!
|Do I look like a nice mom here? You haven't seen me when the kids are talking or fighting when they should be sleeping....|
Here are three things that have really helped, regardless of our kids' ages:
1) Repetetive Phrases: For a while, that was, "Night night! I love you!" or for one kid it HAD to be, "You're my little buddy!" right before we shut the door. But having a little verbal signal like that has been a nice way for them to know once mom and dad says that, it's sleeping time....
2) Sleep Rules: When our kids have struggled going to sleep (and they all go through those phases, so this has to be taught and then retaught again later), we've enforced "Sleep Rules" that they can easily understand and follow. For those kids who are barely speaking, we did some hand motions to these rules: "Stay in your bed. Stay very quiet. Close your eyes. Go to sleep." Sticker charts and rewards were also used in tandem with them keeping the rules.
Now that they're older, we are big fans of this clock. Especially for wake-up time. We are considering getting a second for the baby's room once daylight savings hits, as he's usually our earliest riser.
3) Five Fingers: The past few months, we've taken a few minutes to connect with the kids individually as they are laying down. Brad takes one and I take the other, and we do something we call "Five Fingers." My friend Shelley did something similar with her little kids and we stole her idea! We take a child's hand, and touch one finger at a time. For each finger we share, "I love you because..." and a reason we love them. That usually includes listing positive things they did that day! It also includes some brainwashing, which is why our three year old often gets, "I love you because you try to be so gentle with your little brother!"
The smiles on their faces say it all! They LOVE it. And they often want to do it in return. Want to know why a three year old loves his mom? His usual endings to "I love you because," are: you play with me, you read to me, you give me hugs.
How cute is that?
What do you do for your children's bedtime routines?
If you need ideas, please check out these ladies' posts. And if you'd like to participate in the next series, please sign up on Madeline and Kiana's blogs, also linked below!