Some of you may remember me sharing a similar post to this a couple of years ago. My kids are now 5 and 7, and while bedtime has gotten easier in some ways, we still face challenges. (I’m not surprised either; both my husband and I are night owls by nature.) We continue to learn as we go, and implement the strategies we’ve learned along the way with new insight.
1. Start bedtime early.
We still struggle with this sometimes, but are well aware of how important it is. When bed time is rushed, it almost jacks the kids up and then takes them longer to fall asleep. If we start an hour beforehand to allow plenty of time for getting bathed, getting into pajamas, brushing teeth, and reading books, they fall asleep more quickly, and stay asleep better.
2. Be consistent with bed times.
My husband and I are naturally both night owls. For a long time, we would make sure the kids went to bed early during the week, but let them stay up quite late (and sleep in) on the weekends. This always backfired. We still let them stay up later on the weekends, but no more than an hour past their weekday bedtimes.
3. Take screens away several hours before bedtime.
Do as I say, not as I do! (I read or watch Netflix on my iPad every night before bed.) In all seriousness though, making sure our kids didn’t have access to screens at least a couple of hours before bed has made a huge difference in how well they sleep. (Research backs this up!) My son used to always if he could watch a movie or show before bed, and I was often so exhausted myself I would allow it. I noticed that when we opted for a book instead, he fell asleep much more quickly. That became the rules, and now he looks forward to the storytime and no longer requests a screen.
The only thing worse than trying to get a 5 year old back to sleep after a middle-of-the-night pee is changing their wet sheets. Both of these problems can usually (hey, accidents happen) be avoided with a trip to the bathroom immediately before they go to sleep.
I’d love to hear other tips and tricks that work for your family as well!