Today’s post is from Mary Held, mom and maker of custom pillowcases! She shares her tips on getting kids to bed a little easier:
As a mom of 3, I know the ‘throes’ of bedtime. Whether it’s a complete meltdown because “it’s bedtime” or twenty reasons to do “one more thing” trust me, I understand. Sleep is important for both mamas and kids
Let’s face it: being a parent can be hard. By the end of the night, sometimes, we’re exhausted. And kids sometimes want to “stay up later”. This is just a kid thing. I did it when I was a kid. Some nights are easy nights, when kids just fall asleep from playing hard that day, but there are many nights of arguing back, asking to stay up later, or excuses and rebuttals on all the reasons why they need to go “do one more thing.”
So here are some things I found make it just a little easier for kids to go to bed:
1) Security. We’re going for peaceful, relaxing mood meets happy. How you and your kids feel when you go to bed is usually the same feeling you have when you wake up in the morning. Bedtime is a time of relaxing, chilling out, and feeling good. The challenge is to help your kid WANT to go to bed. Does your child have a personalized pillow, favorite stuffed animal, favorite story, favorite bedtime song or cd they listen to? Whatever brings your child comfort, and helps them to feel happy, safe and peaceful is incredibly valuable at bedtime. You can find personalized pillow cases at www.marymonica.com, enter code: MOM at checkout for 10% off. 🙂
2) Repetition. Whatever is the bedtime routine, is the same routine every night. Kids need structure. If a child listens to the same bedtime cd every night, they will naturally relax when that song plays. Their biological responses match the overall feeling they usually feel when that song plays, or when that story is read, or when they get to hold their favorite teddy bear. My kids take a warm bath after dinner every night, then we do a “family movie” then they brush their teeth and go to bed with their night light and stuffed animals. If I try to switch this routine for any reason, it’s “but what about family movie!?” So the kids need that routine and repetition. It helps them feel secure, and relax.
3) Temperature. Whatever your child does with their blankets when they sleep, that is how you determine the temperature of the house. For me, sleep is a big priority. One of my children will not sleep with a blanket. For that reason, the house stays at a temperature that is not too cold for her, but also not too warm for my other two kids (and myself) who all use blankets. (I choose 75-76 degrees, which works for my family, and we are Floridians, if I was a northerner, I might choose 72-73, or whatever feels comfortable and not too cold/too hot.)
4) Pajamas and Sheets. As common sense as it sounds, it’s important for kids to wear something loose and comfortable for bed that doesn’t let them get too cold if they kick blankets off, or too hot with the blankets. Certain outfits/nightgowns and flat sheets can all get bunched up and make things uncomfortable in sleep. I personally do not use a flat sheet anymore with my kids or myself. We all use blankets. The sheets get wrapped and bunched up or kicked to the bottom, never to be used, so now I save 30 minutes per week by not dealing with washing, folding, and/or using flat sheets. So you’re welcome for that extra time saving tip on saying adios to flat sheets. Lol. No offense, flat sheets. 🙂
5) Interest Questions. When I am putting my kids to bed, sometimes I will go through a range of questions about their interests. What’s your favorite color? Favorite food? Favorite animal? Favorite place? Favorite dessert? Who is your best friend at school? Who is your favorite teacher and why? All of these questions help your child to feel special and helps you to get to know your child and their ever changing interests. When my kids are feeling important and answering questions about their interests, I’m not only building their self-esteem, and bonding with them, but I’m also causing a positive mental distraction from the idea of a monster under their bed, a toy they need to get, one last thing they need to get/do, some shadow on the wall that looks scary, and all the other fears or distractions kids use to extend bedtime. I give my children things to think about instead of letting their minds wander. Letting minds wander is a positive and healthy thing to do (usually in the right time, like daytime when they’re free to play, etc.), but at bedtime, if there are issues of being scared of the dark, etc. I come up with a steady stream of questions to keep them mentally occupied with something positive that will actually help the relaxation process. What do you want for your birthday this year (even if it’s 6 months out). This also helps to mentally train them to think forward, which is sometimes necessary in life. Any questions that will help them be distracted in a good way, from fear or other negative feelings at bedtime, will work.
When kids don’t get enough sleep, it affects their ability to control emotions, concentrate, and make good decisions, among other things. A kid is just learning about the world, their emotions, and social interactions. Making sleep a priority is important. Sticking to a routine, using security items (favorite stuffed animal, personalized pillow, same bedtime stories/songs, dim night light) can help create the positive and relaxing feelings for kids at bedtime. Know that if your children test you to get up “one more time” you are not alone! Stay calm and remind them it’s bedtime, everything else can wait until tomorrow. Think happy thoughts. Sweet dreams to you and yours!
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