For many getting kids to sleep can be one of life’s great parenting challenges. Frequently, when we’re out with other couples they’ll complain about lack of sleep. My husband and I often smile at each other because if there’s one thing we did right it’s that we got our 3 children to sleep. And early on! But admittedly we did it in very non traditional ways so I’m not expecting a lot of positive reactions to these tips.
- 1.Change up Bedtime Beyond Bedtime Stories: We have never made reading stories a part of our bedtime routine. Sure we read to our kids at other times of the day (over breakfast, after school, before dinner), but quite frankly making reading a required part of our night time ritual seemed like a set up for disaster. It’s no different than when I get in bed and tell myself I’m going to watch one episode of RHONY and then 5 episodes later at 3am I’m turning off the light. We also didn’t want them to get so settled into one routine that we could never leave them with a babysitter or relative. Instead, our bedtime routine consists of mom or dad tucking them in, snuggling for a few minutes and asking them little questions such as what was the funniest part of their day or who was the silliest person at the school lunch table. These questions often get them talking and then if the conversation is 2 mins or 20 that’s okay b/c you haven’t already read 6 books in 4 different voices.
- 2.Microwave their swaddle blanket: Yup, we did this too. I have to give my husband credit for this one. One night he was so desperate to get our firstborn colicky child back to sleep that he stumbled into the kitchen. I think he meant to warm a bottle but in his stupor he microwaved the swaddle blanket for 30 seconds. It worked like a charm and quickly became one of our greatest nighttime hacks.
- 3.I armed them To Battle The Scary Monsters: My oldest was the king of excuses during the bedtime wars. We knew he was tired, he knew he was tired, our whole building knew he was tired. But there were monsters in his room. Not to be defeated by the monsters, we filled a spray bottle with water and added a few drops of peppermint oil and called it monster spray. He kept clinging to that little bottle for years!!
- 4.Early Birds Not Welcome: We are not morning people and we needed to train our children not to be morning people either. When they were very young, we would put a bottle or sippy cup of water and a few soft toys in their crib. Once each child was old enough to know their numbers we purchased a cheap digital alarm clock and told them they couldn’t leave their room until the clock said 8:00. After they had gone to sleep, we would leave matchbox cars, army figures, coloring books and Ziplock bags filled with Cheerios in a pile by their beds. Even if they woke up by 8am they had to stay in their rooms and entertain themselves.
Now that our oldest is almost 16 you might be surprised that we’re still not sleeping. Don’t get me wrong he goes to sleep and he sleeps through the night. In fact, he can sleep so long that trying to get him out of bed is like an Olympic sport. But now that he’s going out with friends and to parties I’m back to being up in the middle of the night ….