Like everything else in the life of a parent, getting your child to bed can be a challenging, yet rewarding experience. I say rewarding because most of my favorite memories I have with my two-year-old have come from getting him ready for bed. If you are a new parent or just looking for different ways to get your little monster to sleep, here is what my wife and I have done to successfully get our children to bed.
Tip No. 1: Start Early
The most important thing to do in getting a child to bed is getting them into a routine. By starting early, it will give them ample time to wind down and get ready for bed. For example, my two-year-old son will go to bed around 8:30 p.m., but we get his routine going about an hour before that to wind him down. He doesn’t know that he is getting ready for bed, he feels that we are spending quality time with him.
Tip No. 2: No TV before bed
During the time we are winding down my son, we turn off the TV. Watching TV before bed can actually make children more awake because their brains are being active. You also don’t want to run the risk of your child seeing something that could potentially give them nightmares. It might seem farfetched, but my son had a nightmare about bees after we had watched Winnie the Pooh before bed.
Tip No. 3: Find Calming Activities
Getting the wiggles out is a good way to help your child get a good night sleep. Your goal should be to tire them out, but not get them too hyper that they find a new gear. Some of the activities we have done to help our children get ready for bed are bath time
, story time
with Daddy, cleanup toys
and family prayers. These activities have helped calm my children down while establishing connections with them at the same time.
Tip No. 4: Stay out of the room
There is the occasion that my toddler doesn’t want to go to sleep after all that we have done to get him ready for bed. For this reason, we have taken all the toys from his room and make sure that he has nothing to do but sleep. As tempting as it is to go in his room as he sweetly calls my name, I know that he is trying to play me. For whatever reason, he sometimes feels that he is missing out on something fun (spoiler alert, he’s not), and he wants to stay awake. By staying out of his room I help establish hard rules about bedtime. He knows that it’s bedtime and it’s time to sleep. If I keep going in his room, he might feel that it’s now playtime and the routine is lost. Obviously this rule doesn’t apply if your child has been in their room for a few hours and then they start screaming. I’m just referring to the first hour that they should be sleeping.
Tip No. 5: Keep the Routine
It’s important to stick to a routine to help children get to bed. Consistency is key and you’ll see the rewards from being consistent. Like I said before, there are many rewards to bedtime and having a routine is the reason. The time we spend on our routine has helped my son connect with us as parents because there isn’t anything to distract us. We have this schedule and our son knows it. As far as I can tell, it has become his favorite part of the day because we have all our focus on getting him a good night’s sleep.