True Parent Struggles: Bedtime Battles (Episode 95)
Bedtime struggles in your home? Unfortunately, it's not like you can "fix" it once and your children will sleep like saints forevermore. So how do you navigate when schedules constantly change and your child's sleep changes as well? We hash it out in this week's episode on the Mama Says Namaste Podcast.
Children are constantly growing and changing, and their sleep schedules do as well, so how do you keep your sanity when you just want them to go to bed?
Prepare in advance - don't just drop a bombshell on them. Prep them for what is coming up. Just like we discussed in the transitions episode, give them a heads up.
Be up front about what you expect and what's going on. Share the schedule before bedtime so they know what will happen.
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oftentimes bedtime becomes a battle because expectations - and agendas - collide.
Nope, not a real baby, but that sweet little jellyfish and beanie hat are the first in a line of adorable baby gifts Clara is making for her new baby cousins!
With four babies to visit, she's been hard at work on little creations, and this set was just delivered to the first baby in our tour, sweet little Wells!
I'm posting in advance, as we're headed to the beach tomorrow to see him in person!
Exceptions will happen
Life events will change things. Late night parties, movies, company over...there will be times when the normal bedtime routine won't happen. When you are working on bedtime, sticking with a routine is super helpful. Once you've established that system and laid out ground rules and clear expectations, however, there will be times this doesn't happen.
It's super important to let your kids know in advance if their routine isn't going to be the same. So when you know you'll be coming home late and that bedtime routine of book-reading and back-scratching isn't going to happen, make sure they know it and you can discuss another time to make it happen, or assure them that the next night you'll be able to.
Create a bedtime routine WITH your children
Don't just lay down the law with no voice from the kids. Add them into the conversation! Go back to expectations and agendas - what does your kid imagine bedtime should look like? What do they really want at bedtime? What do you want? Discuss it to see how you can find a compromise that works for everyone. They are way more likely to be on board if they feel heard in the process.
Are you looking at the time, or the feeling?
Kids aren't typically obsessed with the time - they simply know how they feel. And if they feel a ton of energy and are wide awake, they aren't really going to be able to force themselves to sleep any more than we do.
So although we may be looking at a clock, we have to recognize that, for them, they are oftentimes more in tune with their perspective on bedtime and that feeling of "missing out" on the fun, and trying to justify to them that it's 10pm and they have to is the wrong way to go about it. Hop on the bandwagon with them and share how you are feeling and what your body needs, as another insight into how they make a bigger impact in the world than just doing whatever they want.
Want to explore more around these concepts? Check out these additional pages:
Prepare for the Rebuttal
Think through what your child typically requests at bedtime. Do they need a drink of water? Have an itchy spot? Sore back? Do they need to go to the bathroom, or are they scared of the dark?
What can they incorporate into their own routine, like getting that drink of water, going to the bathroom, or warming up the heating pad before they get into bed.
Have your child do a "full body analysis" before bedtime. Give them time to lay down before you come in to say goodnight to do a body assessment and make sure everything feels okay.
Prep this in advance, so that when you say goodnight, it's final, and there is no excuse to get back up again. Sometimes kids don't know what they want - they can't articulate it. Explore different ways and see what works - help them identify that desire feeling and how to get what they need.
How Hyped Up Are You?
Also, pay attention to what has been built up right before bed. Going straight from a party or right after a movie may be too difficult of a transition. You may need to couch in some time to defrag and talk to help their minds settle.
Instead of "you have to go to sleep," say, "it's time to rest your body."
Maybe they need time to process - journaling, meditation, reading a book - these may all help in the evening. Or, doing a 2-minute "talkie time" can mean the world to your child and create a pretty awesome bond between the two of you. Have an ongoing story you create together to foster their imagination and storytelling.
Your Weekly Challenge:
Lay out a routine with your children. Figure out what works. Talk with them and let them have a voice in it.
Have fun and be flexible to find what works. And then, get consistent with it. If you are struggling with this in your household, go through my "Take Back The Night" series and stick with it for a full month.
We all have different needs and desires. Sometimes we need to have a strict routine. Sometimes we need to have a moment to connect with others. Sometimes, we need to feel in control. Knowing the personality styles of your children can help so much in your connection with them, especially when it comes to navigating things like bedtime.
The uniqueness in each of us strengthens all of us.
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