Get Those Kids To Bed

4 min read
Get Those Kids To Bed

This could be any one of you. You’re tired. The kids are tired. You’ve just dragged your body and soul through preparing a home-cooked nutritious meal for your darlings, they’re squeaky clean and in fresh warm pyjamas. The favourite dog-eared bedtime story has had another innings, and Iggle Piggle is tucked up in his bed. Seems reasonable to think that the children should merrily follow suit, right?

Fast-forward to three hours later and you’re borderline channeling Samuel L. Jackson’s version of “Go the **** to Sleep” and considering giving up, laying face down on the playroom rug whilst your toddler bounces from bedroom, to couch, to you, pulling acrobatic stunts Cirque du Soleil would envy. And the older child is calling out his extensive list of “things he just has to have before he goes to sleep” (a water, toilet, more water, toilet again cycle ensues and you feel like you’re rearing a baby camel, not a child).

Bedtime can be a fractious, prickly time for everybody involved. Our days are long and when you are a little kid they are immensely long. It’s unfortunate that getting ready for bed coincides with their physical and emotional lowlight of the day.

Every parent will have their own techniques of what works for them. This list is not exhaustive, and not everything on it will work for your family, but as a guide of where to start to stop these bedtime battles, it may serve to help.

 Children need to like their bedrooms.

However that being said, they are just that, a “bed-room”. A room for bed, a room for sleep. You can’t blame a little one for wanting to touch and play with everything in their room if it’s a sensory delight. An overstimulating bedroom is inviting play and activity, not rest and sleep. Try to keep bedrooms neat and ensure toys are packed away prior to attempting putting your child to bed. Have them help you – from any age – to clear toys from the floor and put them where they belong (ideally out of sight). Have a “bed-time buddy” (or two… perhaps drawing the line at three) who accompanies your child to bed but try to remove the lure of playthings from the room.

Routine is key.

Get Those Kids To Bed

Unfortunately as much as it’d be nice to always fly by the seat of our pants and “wing it”, bedtime is the one time of day that toddlers and young children benefit from routine the most. Try and follow a sequence so they know what happens in each order every night. For pre-schoolers/school-aged children, having a very bright, visual wallchart can be great. Using a whiteboard marker you can ‘check off’ the steps as you proceed through the routine of dinner, bath, story, cuddle, teeth, drink of water, toilet (if appropriate) then bed.

Be Strong

If your child gets out of bed (and I hate to sound “Super Nanny-esque” but it’s the more effective of approaches) return your child to bed, reinforce plainly that it is time to sleep and everything on your list has been checked off, and ask that they stay in bed. I personally have my children reiterate their understanding by saying “Yes, Mummy” to acknowledge what they have understood what has been said. Remain firm, remain business-like, and very matter of fact. Negotiating will only lengthen the process.

Time Out

If you start to get irate, upset or flustered, give yourself a “time out”. Ensure your child is safe, and remove yourself from the scenario for 5 minutes to compose yourself, take a few breaths and try and re-approach returning the child to bed with a fresh head. If you persist through feeling awful you are more likely to snap, shout or demonstrate you are outwardly angry.

 Something Else?

Remember there are times where they may legitimately be “needing you”. If your child is emotional and upset, quiz them about whether something has made them sad, or cross. If they are persistently crying, is something else at play? Coming down with a cold, or signs of an ear infection? Most children should be soothed with a post-routine cuddle, being tucked in and a reassurance of how much they will grow in the night and feel great and ready to have fun tomorrow. If your child is continually upset perhaps consider if there are any other factors.

There is no magic wand to bedtime. It is trial and error and does need tweaking to suit your child’s niches and personality. But with a good routine as a solid foundation – and a composed CEO attitude on your behalf – bedtime should be something that can be enjoyed rather than endured.

Have you got any tricks of the trade to get your kids into bed easier?

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About Author

Emma Boyce

Emma Boyce is a Coffee-chugging/chocolate-smuggling/poker-playing fandom mama with a big thing for Science-y things, space stuff, etymology, trivia an...Read Mored "good" people. She is a single mum to a pigeon-pair of pre-school toddlers, and undertakes a Double Degree in Education and Science whilst writing for Stay At Home Mum. Read Less

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