The 4 B's in our Bedtime Routine
Here are 4 Ways/and my reasons to ensure that your child not only sleeps through the night but ENJOYS bedtime in their own room, and in their own bed.
Listen, when you got married there was an unspoken rule that it would just be the two of you in bed together. Can you imagine if John and I didn't have that? We would have 4 kids in bed with us by 2014 if we didn't expect our children to sleep in their own beds! How romantic can it be with 4 kids in bed with you and your spouse? Not. At. All.
Being a teacher, and John being a Taekwondo instructor (on the side, you all know his main corporate job is a financial advisor) we are pretty strict about certain things, and we really try to honor the routine and keep the structure in our home to promote safety and well being for all of us.
1. Start the routine when they are young. Now, if you have older children it's never too late to start a routine, but remember any habit takes at least 30 days (give yourself a month). We started our bedtime ritual with Julia, our oldest, when she was a newborn. It was honestly one of my favorite times of the day, not because she was going to bed, but because we spent quality time together and snuggling was a part of it. We did bath time after dinner or her last feeding, and then we headed into her room for pajamas, a clean diaper, books in the rocking chair, and we would place her in her crib while turning out the lights and we always put on either a music CD, or a children's book on CD I would give kisses and hugs and close the door halfway.
2. As your child gets older have them choose their books. Even now, Micah is only 16 months and he picks out the books he wants at bedtime and crawls right into our laps. And usually we have to read certain books more than once. But this is the beauty of bedtime. Your child is enjoying hearing you read to them, they are choosing their favorite books, and repetition is so good for them to build their vocabulary and grow as readers. I love hearing Micah crack up laughing at his favorite books. He loves "Caps for Sale" and those silly monkeys (we of course use silly voices) and he loves, "No, David" (because David is super naughty and I think Micah feels bad for little David who is always getting into trouble). I can still remember Julia's favorite book in the bath tub which was all about fish, and her favorite book in the bedroom was "Good Night Moon" and "Pat the Bunny". Mark always loved the Spot books because he liked to open the flaps and turn the pages. You can learn so much from your child by the books they like.
3. Promoting Safety and Well-Being is so important as a parent. Our children need to feel safe in our homes. I can remember growing up in a home where I heard my parents argue at night. I can remember laying in my bed and being so fearful and praying they would stop yelling. When John and I got engaged one thing we discussed was that if we ever had a disagreement we would never ever raise our voices or let the children hear us argue. It was so important to me to be the safety keeper for my children and create a home that they felt loved in and safe and secure. I wanted them to always feel the love between us and that is why we hug and kiss in front of our children even if they say, "Ewwww, gross!" I know secretly it makes them feel at ease knowing how much their parents love each other. Creating a routine that you stick to every night (there will be exceptions, like when a new baby comes, or a child/parent is sick), is so comforting to kids because they know what to expect! They never have to wonder...what is going to happen next, they know the routine and can easily adapt to it. And trust me by the time they are 2 they will be reminding you of the routine and any parts you skip!
4. If your child cries at bedtime be consistent with your mode of action. If you are starting the bedtime ritual now and trying to get your child to sleep in their own room, own crib, own bed and they are resisting, fear not. You are not alone. So many moms/dads struggle with bedtime. I hear stories all the time. Especially from frustrated parents who can't get their child to sleep in their own bed through the night. We talk about this at my MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) a lot. It can be a struggle, especially with a strong willed child, or if a new baby has been born, or you move, or you got into the habit of falling asleep with your child. So, I use the 5-10-15 method. John and I use this when Micah (our most strong willed and stubborn sleeper) starts to resist going straight to bed. He loves the bath and book time, but sometimes puts up a fight when it's time for the crib. So we let him cry for 5 minutes, go back in, lay him down, rub his back, and leave. Sometimes that does the trick, sometimes we have to leave and hear him cry again, we wait 10 minutes the next time and go in rub his back and leave. Eventually they go to sleep... they get tired of the fight and they see you are consistent. If you watch Supernanny she does something very similar to that method but actually stays in the room, not talking and waits for the child to go to sleep. The first night near the bed/crib. The second night by the door. The third night in the hallway. Usually it takes 3 days for them to finally just go to sleep on their own.
We call it the 4 B's
1. Bath or Shower
2. Brush teeth
4. Books and Prayer
This post is dedicated to my best friend Cinzia who inspired me to write it!