Wednesday, 13 May 2015

How to get the children to bed without stress


Being a single parent, the time between picking the children up from school and bedtime is extremely busy for me. I have after school clubs, dinner to cook and clean up after, books to read, tooth brushing, baths and two hyperactive boys to calm down. I often get over tired and wish for just a little bit of space and silence so if I can get the boys to go to bed when they are supposed to, it is a massive bonus for me. 

The boys still share a room so all they want to do is play and chat when they are supposed to be sleeping. Most nights they behave without any issues, but it took a lot of effort to get them to go to bed without stress. And of course, there are still those nights that don't go so perfectly. 

bedtime, parenting, tips, single parent, sleep, children, tired, naughty, child, kids, kid,


Here are some of my methods which help to create a stress free bedtime:

Create a schedule that works for you

I have always kept a routine since the children were babies but since they have started school, karate, and myself returning to work, I have had to make some changes. So to make things work for us, the children will complete their homework as soon as they get home from school, I tend to cook dinner at the same time each night, followed by sending the children to bed half an hour before bedtime for teeth brushing, washing and story time. Our bedtime routine could change occasionally but I try and keep it the same every night. I expect them to stay in bed quietly and allow them to read alone with a book for an extra ten minutes. If they misbehave, then this reading privilege will be taken away the next night. I really believe in creating consequences for kids and following through with them each time, it definitely works. Our routine won't work for everyone, but the trick is to find a routine that works for you and your circumstances. Everyone has their own lifestyles so experiment and tweak your routine to create a calm evening for all of you.

One on one time

I know some family lifestyles can be too hectic to fit in a bit of one on one time at bedtime, but over the years, especially now my boys are older, it is worth the effort. The children appreciate when I sit at the end of their beds for a ten minute chat about random things or to make up epic stories together. They also love when I just simply stroke their heads while they think of things they are going to dream about that night. These little moments pay off by creating calmer, more content children who will find it easier to wind down and go to sleep. Lately, before bed, we really enjoy discussing what we would like to dream about that night which really makes the children excited to fall asleep.

Teach them the importance of sleep

Lately I have been working on teaching my children that sleep and bedtime are good things and not something to fear. Bedtime should be an enjoyable time, a chance to get lost in a book, a chance to dream, and to enjoy your own company. Going to sleep is not a punishment but a great way to recharge your body. The average child has a very busy day. There's school, running around with friends/siblings, going to clubs, and doing your homework. By the end of the day, your body needs a break. Sleep allows your body to rest for the next day. I regularly tell the children that sleep gives you strength and so staying awake all night will make you too weak to be able to have play time at school the next day. I also explain that even super heroes need sleep.


Leave the door open

As my boys share a room, I found that when I left the door closed, they tended to see this as an opportunity to get out of bed to play. If I left the door open, they knew that I could see and hear them so would remain in bed. There is also the benefit of them not sleeping in the dark, causing them to be less anxious. Leaving the door open lets in a little bit of light and also they can hear that I am in the next room, providing reassurance that they are not completely alone. 

Play Music or stories 

A fellow mum once told me that if the children are constantly coming down the stairs, complaining that they can't sleep, try putting on an audio book or some calming music for them to fall asleep to. Creating a cosy ambiance in their room along with some relaxing entertainment for them to concentrate on really works and sometimes I end up falling asleep with them. 


What are your tips for getting children to stay in bed? 


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7 comments

  1. Love this Gemma and so helpful! Bed time most nights is s stressful! Ours also share a room and tend to play instead of bed! argh! I also have them up and down asking for this and that. I think I can deffs work on the "ONE to ONE time" as I do get so wrecked by bed time I tend to hurry them along and get them off ASAP hhaha they love to listen to their story cds and music at bedtime ann we always have a story too.

    What are some consequences you use please? I believe in that method too but can never think on the spot! x

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  2. Hello Gemma,

    Door open really do the trick :) But the parents door has to be open as well.

    I noticed that my daughter fall asleep much quicker since she has a teddy with her or lots of them. Now she only have one, but she used to have 7 in the bed with her. That just did the trick.

    #thelist

    xxMarta

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  3. I co -sleep with my son. This vacation we will start to train him to sleep on his own bed. Something big for us! I will keep all this in mind =) #pocolo

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  4. We have had many a long night trying to get my little boy to bed - he's almost two, so still a bit little to reason with, but I love the idea of celebrating going to sleep, and teaching him the benefits instead of seeing it as a punishment, going to start instilling that from now on! #PoCoLo

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  5. Hehee! I often fall asleep with Reuben, especially when he's going through his 'getting up 1000 times' phases...he's going through a great phase at the moment though, where he gets in bed and stays there. I blinking love it! ha! Really great tips and I love the story/music idea. All the baby books go on about it being a bad thing, but I can remember doing it and it's such a lovely way when they're older to get lost in a story, as you say, and relax while they're doing it. Thanks for linking up to #TheList xx

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  6. I agree that building a schedule or routine can help them get settled in the long run. The other tips serve well in creating that schedule, though it might not be the same for everyone. In the end, it’s all about making it a habit for them, something so embedded in their daily routine that they automatically do it as time goes by. Anyway, thanks for sharing your thoughts on the matter. Cheers!

    Carlos Strey @ The Bridge Across

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  7. This is a lovely post. My two lads share a room and can be soooo excitable at bedtime. I love the idea of talking about what we'd like to dream about. I'll be trying that tomorrow! X

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