Bedtime battles are the worst. They ruin the potential peaceful evening, they attack you at a time of day when your energy is spent and your opponents installed your ‘buttons’ on their entry into this world.
But as in all things parenting, if in doubt, try a few routines and work out what does and doesn’t work and stop having bedtime battles with your darlings for good!
Routine, routine, routine
Even as adults we have a bedtime routine. And kids love that sort of thing. This idea to stop bedtime battles is going to sound like one of those toddler sleep help books, but there is something to it. You don’t need a regimented routine, just a loose series of events that occur in the same order each night. Using a bedtime routine tells our body that it is time to rest. For kids, a bedtime routine might be a bath, drink, teeth brushing then a story. Whatever helps your child unwind and be ready for a rest is what you’re aiming for. At our place, we have a bath, milky drink, teeth, story then soft music routine that has the kids asleep at a reasonable time.
Have a set bed time
Incorporated with a sleep routine, going to bed at the same time every night works toward stopping bedtime battles in two ways. By setting a time for bed, you are taking away one reason to argue at bedtime. Of course there will always be special occasions, but the more closely you stick to a bedtime, you will find your body clock will also adjust overtime and make you feel sleepy around that time each night.
Don’t argue or give in
Consistency is the key to stopping bedtime battles once and for all. If you’re mostly sticking to a routine, but often blowing out – kids notice that. And they’ll use it against you when they can, to take advantage. If you refuse to enter into arguments about bed time, they know there is no way of getting their own way. Of course there will be special extensions for holidays or sleepovers but once you start giving in for no special reason, bedtime starts to mean nothing.
Have fun at bedtime
By putting a bit of thought into bedtime, you could turn it around from being the most dreaded time of the day, to something everyone looks forward to. You could start reading an engaging book series together or have a family game in the time before bed. At our place we like to just hang out and talk about our day before having a story.
Everybody gets tired and goes to bed
Some kids are fascinated to learn that everybody sleeps. Even Mum and Dad have a bed time. It sounds so simple but explaining to your kids that everyone has a bedtime routine, goes to bed and sleeps can make bedtime seem not so bad anymore. You can also teach them to recognise signs that they are feeling tired to help them identify and discuss their feelings and associated tiredness with resting and how sleep re-energises them.
Do you have bedtime battles with your kids? What’s your best survival tip?