Blissful Bedtimes and Catching Some Zzzzzzzs

Marianne Stuart

I want to talk about our kids and sleep. Sleep is highly underrated. Ask any exhausted mom. I have a few suggestions that can make your evenings and nights more enjoyable.

Nighttime Newborns
I have had many moms ask me how to get their newborns on a better sleep schedule. I think we all might have had a baby that gets its days and nights mixed up. My mother, who raised 14 children, gave me some great advice years ago.

 

  • Daytime naps should be in a common room and well lit. A darkened, quiet room is more conducive for longer periods of sleep which we want to encourage at night.
  • Now this next tip is the most important thing I am going to tell you. Do not make eye contact or talk to your baby during a night waking. I don’t care how cute they are, they ARE super cute, but they can drive you to insanity if they won’t sleep. Talk and eye contact are very stimulating for a baby and now you might have a wide awake baby that wants to be up for long while.
  • Another thing I am learning about babies is that it is a good thing to lay them down drowsy and not totally asleep. This allows them to go to sleep without you, a bottle or pacifier being a crutch that is needed every time in order to fall asleep. I heard an analogy that made so much sense: If a baby needs to be nursed to sleep always then when they wake up in the night they don’t know how to fall back to sleep except by nursing to sleep. The same applies to bottles, pacifiers, etc. It is like you falling asleep with a pillow and then waking up without it. Imagine how hard it would be to have your pillow taken away.

Toddlers and Routines
Toddlers thrive on routine. In our home we have an evening routine. We have the younger kids get ready for bed and then call everyone into the family room for prayers. This takes about five minutes. Nightly kisses are given out and the younger children know they have to go to bed. If we skip prayers then we have little ones that keep coming into our room because they don’t remember if they kissed us goodnight. Other routines can be a bath, pajamas, teeth brushed and then having a story read to them. I would like to tuck them in and see them in the morning. It isn’t always this easy for some little ones. They might want to get out of bed many times. I recommend keeping them in their crib until they start climbing out. Sure, the toddler beds are cute, but now you have a child that can get out many times before they fall asleep. I don’t know about you, but at the end of the day I am so ready to have some down time with my husband. Once they are in a big bed that they can crawl out of bedtime gets more challenging. If they climb out, just take them back and tell them that it’s time for bed. Don’t elaborate, less words are better. Do this until they fall asleep, even if it takes 20 times. Parenting isn’t for the faint of heart and this is one of the big challenges. Win this battle! Don’t let that little one win or you might find yourself losing bigger battles.

Elementary Age
I find grade school children an easier age group but they do need some unwind time. My kids love to read in bed with a book light. Some of our children went through spells and didn’t want to stay in bed. We would hear the patter of feet running down the hall to climb into bed with a sibling. One of us, usually Daddy, would camp out in the hallway and send them back to bed when they tried to sneak out. After a few nights they got the idea.

Tired Teens
Teens are wired more like night owls. Unfortunately, school starts too early for most of them to keep such late hours. One advantage we have found with homeschooling is that online classes don’t usually start until after 9:00am. There are a few things we can do to help our teens get more sleep. Dimming the lighting and some nighttime tea are helpful. Limiting computer and tv a few hours before bedtime also helps. I encourage them to read in bed or work on a craft project. My girls are really enjoying knitting and crocheting. When the opportunity arises I will let my teens sleep in, but not so late that they miss a meal. I still have a teenager that fights me on this one but I am working to win this battle! =======================================================================
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