We recently reached a new level in our bedtime routine. Jackson, 7 and Asher, 6 are now reading to EACH OTHER before they go to sleep! It has taken us YEARS to get to this point. They are actually excited (maybe one day every few weeks) to get into bed and get into their books. Right now, it's all about the Cam Jansen Mystery series by David Adler.
I firmly believe talking to our kids about sleep as well as establishing a simple bedtime routine can get them sleeping fast. And believe me, it took some time to figure it out. But once you get into the groove, whatever your groove might be, it's ZZZZZZZs galore. Here's what's worked in our home.
1) Bedtime is at the same time every night during the school week. But Jackson and Asher know that if they have exceptional behavior or there is a special occasion, they may get to stay up for an extra half hour on the weekend. This flexibility is meaningful to them as they feel they can have some part in getting more precious time to stay up!
2) Bedtime routine is simple. The boys go to bed at 7:30. So at 7:00 if they haven't yet showered, they will shower. 7:15 we start making our way to Jackson's bedroom. Asher has his own room, but they like to sleep together. I allow it. They sleep fine and it's sweet. Then the boys brush their teeth. Last, they hop into bed and read. They read until about 8:00.
3) Reading is key. We' ve been reading to the boys at night since they were toddlers. At some point, my husband, Andrew, just took over. It was awesome for me as I was able to use that time to make lunches, or clean up dinner dishes, or get to a few emails. And for Andrew, it was just as awesome. He got to have some down time/special time with the boys. But as I mentioned, a few months ago, the boys started reading to each other at night. It's a new kind of awesome. The boys are bonding in a different way and growing their reading skills. Andrew and I get a little more "us" time.
4) Talking about sleep. I have always talked to my boys about the importance of sleep. They are aware that sleep is good for their brains. Sleep helps them do well in school. Sleep helps them be the best athletes they can be. Sleep helps them feel good. Sleep is their friend. They also understand that it is up to them to take care of their bodies. I tell them that they have to help me and tell me when their bodies are tired because they are the only ones who know. I give them ownership of taking care of themselves. Jackson will often tell me he is ready for bed. Asher, not quite there, maybe never.