Bedtime doesn’t need to have drama

One of the best things you can do for your children is give them routine. They THRIVE on routine. They may not like it when they grow up, but when they are children, they need it. They feel safe. They feel secure. They need to know what to expect, and at what time to expect it.

PARENTING IS HARD WORK

Parenting is hard, and even harder for first time moms. We don’t know what we are doing. We feel inadequate at times, and always second guess what we are doing. Thankfully there are so many books out there that offer help, and so many articles online. There are tons of blogs besides mine that deal with just parenting. There are lots of tricks and tips that are invaluable to parents.

When you think of the word routine – what comes to mind?  I personally thrive on routine, but yet others hate it. They like things to be spontaneous, and free from restraints. I on the other hand love doing the same things, at the same time, over and over. It’s why I can work at a repetitive job.

Well, regardless of what you think about routine, children need it, and it doesn’t matter if you like it or not, or even if you are not a routine person. You can help your child so much by giving them routine.

DAILY ROUTINES

Here are some routines that should be at the same time daily:

Waking Up

Getting dressed

Being fed

Playing time

Consistent nap times

Bed/bath time

Your child will take comfort in the stability of things being the same. They know what’s coming.

Here are some pointers to help make your life easier:

WAKING UP

Waking up:

Some children just like us adults are not morning people. They will not like the light turned on, or loud good mornings. Adjust how you wake them up. Don’t expect every child to jump out of bed ready to go when you wake them. Some will need a bit of quiet time.

GETTING DRESSED

Getting dressed:

You are the boss. You – the parent. Children cannot reason, not until after age 12, so it doesn’t matter how many times you explain to them they need to wear the warmer socks, or the sweater, or whatever the clothes may be, they are just going to fight you.

HELP THEM MAKE THEIR OWN CHOICES

Instead, help them make their own choices. You don’t need to battle ever again. Lay out three sets of clothes, (or two sets depending on how many clean clothes you have) and obviously each set is appropriate for what they need to wear. Then let your child “pick” which pile of clothes to wear.

baby trying to dress

Bottom line, you’ve already picked, but when they get to choose, it allows them to be the boss, and makes them think they’ve made the decision. Do not ever cave to a whining child. If you do – they win, and will know that all they have to do to get their own way is make a fuss. You are the boss, act like it.

BEING FED/EATING

Being fed:

Children will be picky if you let them. Get them to try everything, even if it’s only one piece. You need to be able to eat it yourself. You can reward your child for even trying one piece. Meals should not be a battleground. Do not make idle threats – if you threaten something, then follow through on your word.

I would also caution you to listen to your child when they are really struggling with trying to eat something, and they really hate it. I discovered years later that all the food I hated when I was a kid, I found out I was allergic to those foods. So – don’t be too quick to judge, if your child keeps complaining about the same food item, chances are they might be having a reaction to it. Trust your gut instinct.

PLAYING TIME

Playing Time:

It’s important for kids to play, and interact. They need to learn how to get along, and they need to learn how to problem solve without an adult always intervening. You can step in when needed, but try to get your children to understand what is going on, and ask them questions. When children are having fun, they need a warning that something is about to change, ie:  nap time, or bed time. You simply cannot suddenly tell a child, “it’s bed time, head up to your room” without any warning. They WILL freak out. They WILL be angry, they WILL cry. Instead, give your child a ten minute, or fifteen minute warning. Then every five minutes remind them that time is almost up for playing. Set a timer. When the timer goes off, they will know that it’s now nap/bed time. This done on a consistent basis will save you a lot of headaches!

BE THE BOSS AT BEDTIME

At night, don’t let your child kick up a fuss about bedtime. Set the timer. Give warnings. And when it’s time for bed, establish your bed time routine – whether it be to have a bath, brush their teeth, read a story in bed, prayers together, and then a kiss goodnight. Your child will love bedtime if it’s routine. They will not fight it, they will embrace it.

WAKING UP

Waking up in the mornings:

If your toddler wakes up too early, let them know that they cannot come out of their room until a certain time. What I did was have a clock in my son’s room, and then I made a paper clock with the time showing as 6:00 a.m.  If his clock matched the paper clock, then he was allowed out of his room. If not, he was to read quietly, and stay in his bed. If it was an emergency, then yes he could come out of his room at any time, but otherwise not till the clocks matched. I have to say that this worked great!

Bedtime:

You need to set routines and boundaries for your children, so that you do not become angry and unglued. They are going to have days when they are nasty little horrible creatures behaving badly, and other days that they are absolutely cute and adorable. No two days are the same. What needs to stay the same is their routine, and bed times. Please don’t be a parent of a child who lets them stay up late because they fuss about going to bed. Bedtime is bedtime.  You are the BOSS! If they keep coming out of their room, crying, or having a temper tantrum, take them back into their room, give them a book to look at, shut the door, and leave.

DO NOT LET YOUR CHILD STAY UP LATE

Do not let your child stay up past 8:00 on any weeknight. It’s not healthy for them, or for you. You can train your child, they will adjust. They might fight you, but you need to win. You are the parent, so it’s up to you to take control. They may fight for the first 4-5 nights, but once they know you mean it, and they can’t get out of bed anymore (or crawl into yours) you will have won the battle. Children need at least 12 hours sleep per night, so get them into bed as early as you can. I can assure you – you will not need to battle with them for more than a week. They will realize that no matter what they do, they are not going to get what they want.

So – if you don’t have any set routines, I would suggest starting some today. Set your child’s bedtime. Set a dinner time. Set a play time. Your child will thank you for it, even if they don’t verbally thank you for it!

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