I am sure that I’m preaching to the choir when I say motherhood is kinda like a series of trial and error experiments. Sometimes you find things that really work for your family, and other times you stand there scratching your head and wondering where it went wrong. I will also preface this by saying, I am in NO way, shape, or form a sleep expert or consultant. This is just my attempt at sharing what has worked for my family.
For me, bedtime was always a major struggle. But eventually, I decided to declare war on bedtime. I was not going to let this be the death of me any longer. Of course, I had to turn to my trusty friend, Google, for all of the answers. I found a million different articles on sleep and had to filter through a lot of opinions on the subject, but the one thing that kept coming up was…consistency. Of course! Genius. Why didn’t I think of that?
I started small.
Bedtime was now going to be at 7:30 every night. This was a huge change from my “go to bed whenever they get tired” attitude. Spoiler alert: they rarely got “tired”. My kids, of course, put up a fight on my newly-declared bedtime law. In hindsight, it would have been easier to instill this into our routine from younger ages, because changing bedtime habits for a kindergartener and a 3-year-old quickly became my own personal nightmare. But, friends, we made it out on the other side, and I am living proof that it’s never too late to make a change.
Okay, back to the bedtime routine. In order to be consistent, I had to maintain the exact same steps every night. This may seem obvious to some of my fellow mamas out there that rock at bedtime, but for those of you struggling like I was, read on.
4 Steps to Rocking Bedtime Consistency
Bedtime has to be at the same time every night. This is important for some pretty science-y reasons having to do with REM cycles and whatnot, but for me, it was essential so that we had a goal every night. I knew the time, they knew the time, and we all got used to sticking to it.
Do your kids like a nightlight? White noise? Diffuser? Door open? Door shut? Stuffed animal friend to snuggle? One book? Two? Do you do baths or showers every night? Whatever it looks like for your kids, keep it the SAME every night. For us, it’s a combo of a bath (every other night), small night light, stuffed animal friend for each kid, diffuser with lavender oil, two books, and the door shut. Again, staying consistent was crucial here.
3. Stay Strong
Your kids will test you. They will most likely get out of bed 87 times a night for the first couple of weeks, but stay strong, mama. It will pay off. Eventually, they will realize that they aren’t going to break you. And you will win.
4. Say NO
Sometimes this new attempt at bedtime freedom will mean saying no to things that keep you out past that declared bedtime. This can be really hard for social butterflies like myself, but once your bedtime routine is established enough, you’ll be able to navigate an occasional hour-past-bedtime slip up without your kids regressing back into their old ways. Your routine will become so rock solid that even passing it off to a sitter for the night will be easy, and your kids won’t miss a beat.
Do my kids still struggle from time to time with this? YES. Hello, daylight savings time and teething episodes with the baby. BUT…overall, having consistency in the bedtime routine helps us not get too far knocked off course.
Not only was my sanity saved because bedtime was no longer the bane of my existence, but my nights were now mine. After putting my kids to bed, I was able to accomplish many things that used to fall by the wayside, due to scrambling and fighting with kids until we were all too exhausted. Sometimes, this means catching up on laundry and dishes, but sometimes it also means a glass of wine in the bubble bath and curling up with a nice book or Netflix in bed. You do you. Just know that you, too, can tackle this bedtime beast!
Rebecca enjoys trying new restaurants, taking her kids on adventures, and is a regular at local coffee shops and the library. Hospitality is her love language and you can ask her anything about food because she LOVES to cook! She’s also self-proclaimed as #kindacrunchy.