People have been in world wars, some of been stuck in mine shafts for days on end without food, There are those that have been tortured by enemies…..none of these, I repeat none of these are as difficult as dealing with night time with a toddler.
So today’s topic is Establishing a Night Time Routine
While we could have multiple episodes just about getting a baby, toddler, or child to sleep through the nite. That’s a subject on it’s own. We are specifically talking about the 2 hours or so of time before your child is going to sleep.
Establishing a routine is good from the time the baby is born. However what we are covering here is the age when your child is old enough to begin doing things on their own. Side note here: your child is ready to do things on their own much before you probably recognize.
Night time is a battle zone in houses across the world. So the hope here is to offer some advice to make night time a little easier for both you and your child.
The best piece of advice is to create a schedule. This helped “reduce” the battles in my house. Notice I said reduce not eliminate.
Step #1 – Take inventory – Write down all of the things you need your child to do before their head hits the pillow – Bath, brush teeth, put on pajamas, read a story, etc. Put them in chronological order.
Step #2 – Establish the bedtime you want them to have. If you are unsure, the earlier, the better. My kids had 7:30pm for a long time. I know people who’s young kids don’t go to bed until 10:00 or 11:00 o’clock. If that works for you that’s fine. But it is recommended that kids go to sleep early and get plenty of sleep….especially when they start school.
Step #3 – Work backwards with realistic time slots. For example, if you wanted a bedtime of 8:00, they probably have to be the bed to read by 7:30. Then before that they need to brush their teeth and hair at 7:20.
Step #4 – Dinner time gets established – This is a crucial step as dinner time then becomes the crucial foundation for the schedule. If dinner is off, the entire schedule may get thrown off.
Step #5 – Print out multiple copies and laminate them – I put copies of the schedule in each of my children’s rooms as well as in our kitchen. When we first started, because we had them laminated, we had check boxes next to each item and allowed the kids to mark them off. When they are little, they like this.
While the schedule is the best way to establish their routine, there are some tips that are crucial to it’s success:
– Night time can be hard because you are tired and want to do your own things.
– Have your children take part in creating the schedule. allow them to help establish the times.
– Must be on same page with spouse – it won’t work if one wants routine and other doesn’t.
– Consider a little more flexible routine on weekend but not too flexible. Maybe they get another hour.
– “Winding down” is really important. Reading is a good way to do this. Playing games and using electronics is not recommended before bed. They are stimulating and won’t help the process.
– You will need to give warnings on time but may want to try asking questions instead of telling them. “What comes after putting pajamas on?”
– Be consistent – kids thrive on routine and consistency – Why do you think you watch the same movie 500 times or read the same bedtime story 1000 times.
Here is the link to Jason’s night time schedule he created: night schedule