Nap-time and nighttime in our house equals me-time. Whether I nap myself, or tackle one of the many tasks I hope to accomplish during the day, reliable sleep patters for our kids have kept me sane over the years. Maybe your child has never been a good sleeper or is one of the kids who never stays in bed. I hope these tips help move you closer to that elusive me-time you desperately deserve.
I have three kids whose ages span a decade. If there’s anything I’ve learned about kids over the years, it is that they thrive on a routine – especially when it comes to sleep. There’s a very wide spectrum of thoughts on kids and sleeping habits. You can even pay good money to see a sleep counselor. For a very small number of kids, I think there is value in this. But for the large majority, kids just need a good bedtime routine and some stick-to-it habits at home put in place by mom and dad.
These habits do change slightly over time, however, most of the main principles remain the same no matter the age. With infants, I believe they do best when they’re on a eat-play-sleep routine cycle throughout their day. Several popular How-To baby books agree with me, including my favorite, BabyWise. As the book explains, a rested baby eats better, plays better, and then is worn out to sleep better, which feeds into a healthy cycle. When a baby has these basic needs met of resting and eating, they feel more content to explore and learn during their play time. Apparently, infants are just like the rest of us in this way – don’t you function better after a good night’s sleep? Your baby isn’t any different.
Out of the infant phase of life? It’s never too late to get your child on a solid bedtime routine. We have two older girls who are nearing the teenage years. For the most part, their bedtime routine hasn’t changed since they were about the age of 2. Here’s how we do it…
– About an hour before we want them to have lights out, we begin the wind down process. No screens of any kind are allowed two hours before lights out to aid in this.
– They wash hands, brush and floss, use mouthwash, go to the bathroom, any other bathroom duties
– Then they go to their room (they share a bedroom) and put on pajamas and pick up anything that’s still out from the day
– They can read a book by themselves, or we sometimes read a family read aloud story together until 10-15 minutes prior to the “lights-out” time we have chosen. Optimally, this is at least 10 hours ahead of the time they need to be up in the morning
– We turn off all the lights, say something great about that day we’re thankful for, then pray together as a family
– One more round of bathroom breaks if they need it, then we turn on a lullaby CD, sound machine, humidifier, etc., give hugs and kisses and leave the room
Again, this hasn’t changed much since they were toddlers. They don’t come out of their rooms unless something is wrong, and are asleep in minutes. They sleep through the night and wake up in the morning feeling ready to tackle the day.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, this is how much sleep kids need. If your kids aren’t getting an adequate amount of sleep, start working some of these habits into your bedtime routine tonight!