Getting kids to bed on time and to sleep is a huge source of stress for many parents. They struggle with getting their kids to bed on time. They struggle with kids that once they’re in bed, continually get out of bed. They struggle with having kids who won’t fall asleep unless they are lying with their child. They just struggle with the entire thing.
In Part 1 of this blog post, I shared with you Tips 1 – 4. If you didn’t get a chance to see them, here is a quick summary of Tips 1 – 4:
TIP #1: Bedtime Starts At Wake-up Time
Bedtime is not just a nice little ring fenced thing that coincidently happens at a certain time in the evening. It is a cleverly orchestrated affair! To create patterns that work, you need to decide on the parameters of the patterns you want and stick to them until they become the habit. It always needs to start earlier than you think it does.
Tip #2: Give Yourself Enough Time & Be Organized
In order to get the bedtime routine on track and your kids to sleep at a certain time, you have to give yourself enough time to do what needs to be done in the “window” before bedtime and organize things in such a way that allows you to do this.
Tip #3: Create A Routine
Make a list of ALL the things that need to be done as part of the bedtime routine and know what time each one has to “roughly” start in order to get the last one, namely the kids asleep, at the time you want and the time your child needs it to be.
Tip #4: Be Consistent
Now that you have decided on what the pattern/routine will look like, you will have to repeat the new pattern over and over again, until it becomes the new pattern and default one. Creating new patterns takes time, be patient as it seeps in and becomes the norm.
No screens within 1 – 2 hours of going to bed
The research says it all here and has been proven over-and-over again. There are countless studies to back this up: the backlight on screens is not conducive to being able to get sleep. If you want to give your child the best opportunity to be prepared to go to sleep, screen time before bed is not a good idea. Period.
And on that note, it is not advisable to have your child sleep with their device or smartphone beside them on their bedside table. Even if they say they will not look at it or use it! Not to mention your child sleeping in amidst the potentially harmful electromagnetic rays that are emitted from it during the night. It is recommended that this is avoided. It’s always good to set up this pattern while your children are young because trying to get a smartphone out of a teenager’s bedroom is next to impossible! Did you know that the average teenager is woken up 3 – 4 times per night with messages, which they answer!!!
Allocate a window of time for winding down
This is important for kids. It’s important for us too. I always used to struggle to get to sleep on the nights I had late sports games. With kid’s schedules being so loaded and often late, this can be hard but it is important that we create a window for our kiddos to wind down before bed. A bath can do this. Lying on the sofa, chit-chatting, reading a book, being read to or just doing nothing are all good things.
Create a bedroom environment conducive to sleep
Creating an environment in your child’s bedroom that is conducive to sleep and your child feeling safe is important and should not be overlooked. It is recommended that we all sleep in cooler rooms over warm ones and I am a huge fan of blackout blinds. I always had blackout blinds or lining to any window covering in the kids’ bedrooms – we still do!
Show up with a positive and compassionate mindset
The way in which we show up in terms of the energy we have, the mindset we’re in, and the temperament that we’re showing up with or in, in the moment, will largely govern our response to certain things. The way in which we show up is huge. The amount of time we give ourselves to show up, be dialled into the right energetic frequency to allow us to show up with love and compassion (no matter how tired we are), dialled into all the things that we know will help us get our child to bed on time are all super important factors to be taken into consideration. We all know that the “witching hour” can often be a time when we are typically tired so being able to refuel and shift our mindset into a better way of being before this time is a good idea.
What do you need to do to make this time easier for you?
If we show up impatient, tired and exhausted with only half an hour left for something that we know will realistically take an hour and a half or two hours, we’re never going to manage to meet all our needs and tick all the boxes. If we show up energized and patient with love, and compassion, and respect, and a tank full of that, plus enough time to do what we know needs to be done, then we’re going to get it all done and it’s going to be a far happier, fun, joyful, easy, calm, peaceful couple of hours.
- How are you showing up and are you giving yourself enough time to show up in a way you will be happy with?
You have full control of how you show up. It is a choice you can make.
Can you perhaps begin to see this “witching hour” as an opportunity to spend a precious hour with your child? Can you see that if you go into it dreading it, it will most probably be dreadful? What if you went into expecting it to be full of joy and love? The odds are that it will be joyful and loving. And with this attitude, it will most probably last for the time you have allocated to it and not for hours filled with frustration. Who knows you might just want this bedtime to go on forever?
So much of it really is a state of mind and your mindset is your choice: just like happiness, I believe it’s an inside job.
On a side note. If you struggle with having a child that continually gets out of bed, let’s create a plan for this. You need to make sure it is reliable, logical, practical and repeatable. Take some time to formulate some answers to the questions below as it will help you decide upon a way to show up and then show up the same way every time it might happen. This is important for you and for your child. Then your child will know that if X then Y. Every time. If X then Y.
- What are you going to do?
- What are you doing to say?
- What are you going to do to keep your cool when you are frustrated and tired yourself?
- Can you come up with a mantra to repeat to yourself in your head?
Know what your child needs
I don’t think we need any convincing that all children need sleep. It is staggering and alarming to me that half of the children in America are not getting enough sleep. Sure, the actual amount can vary and will vary but not by much. However, in the time leading up to bedtime, there are some kids who will need to let off some steam while others are happy to kick back and relax. If your child needs to move, it might be wise to let them run it off or run it out, not immediately before they have to hop into bed or they will be all riled up and less likely to be able to reset into sleep mode that quickly. Perhaps you want to scroll back and review what the sleep expert said in the video I referred to.
- What does your child need?
Make bedtime a priority
Many parents complain about their kids not going to sleep and bedtimes being a nightmare but their lifestyle and actions are not in alignment with, nor conducive to their child actually being able to get to bed and get to sleep at a time that allows them to meet their sleep requirements.
If you want your child to go to bed at a certain time, and develop the skills to be able to get to sleep themselves, you have to make it a priority and set up the steps you need to take to get there. There’s no child in the world who wants to go to bed! They all want to stay up. The later hours are always the time they get all cuddly and particularly yummy and choose to chat more with us. It’s natural and normal. They don’t want to miss out on being with you especially if you work and might only have a short period-of-time to spend with them. You have to work out what you want and find a way to meet both of your needs; your child’s and your own.
You can totally do this but you have to make it a priority. In order to change things up, you have to be the one to initiate the changes. You will have to start to show up in a different way. If you want to make bedtimes less of a struggle and help your child get to sleep on time, and be parenting from a happy, fun, joyful, peaceful, and calm place, you will have to do what it takes to get you there.
You will be less likely to get those five things in your life if you’re always on the fly, chasing your tail and don’t give yourself enough time to do what you know you “should” be doing. Add to which, you will be more likely to have a permanently tired and exhausted, grouchy, grumpy and argumentative child because of it.
Getting the bedtime routine “right” will depend on how you show up and how much time you allocate to creating the new patterns required to make it work. In my observations with parents, many of them expect one thing and are not doing what it takes to meet those expectations!
So back to the parent who got some abuse for seeming to have it easy and being lucky.
I believe you create your own luck.
There’s no right and no wrong way of doing things and there are many ways to “skin a cat”. But, when it comes to your child getting enough sleep, I do believe that every child should be given the opportunity to get the sleep they need and that research proves is essential for them. We have to do what we know is right, do what it takes to honour our child’s sleep needs and our own needs as their parents, and it would be hard to argue that your child getting enough sleep is wrong!
Here’s to creating your luck!
PS. If you enjoyed this blog post, you might also enjoy Episodes 79 and 80 on m podcast The Parenting In The Thick Of It Show. They are both on bedtime and finding ways that work. And if you are curious about developing a new way of showing up, then don’t forget to tune in to Episode 76 where I discuss the subject of showing up, how we show up and all the things we can do to consciously shift our mindset in order to show up in a way that is more conducive to creating the life that we want as a parent. I share a very simple thing that will totally change how you parent your kiddos.