Monday, March 21, 2011

Routine, Routine, Routine!

I know it sounds boring and predictable, but the key to putting kids to sleep at night is ROUTINE! Of course routines change and adjust as needed as the get older, but that structure is what keeps them grounded.
I hear so many moms talk about how they can take hours to put their kids to bed. Horror stories ranging from kids crying and throwing tantrums to running crazy with extra energy come to mind first.  I know everyone out there has heard the type of stories I am speaking about!  Most of them make even the most veteran mom tired just hearing how long it took to finally get them to bed.  I can not imagine what it would be like to go through that every night!  I think it would involve a lot of wine.
I am not saying that my kids have been perfect over the years.  We have gone through some growing pains at times, but every time they challenge the routine we stick even closer to it!  Usually with in a few days their efforts weaken and the routine wins out!
Here is our nightly bedtime routine that we have found very effective:
After dinner we usually spend some time playing.  When it is getting close to the time to go to bed we give them a time check.  If you let them know what is coming it always help them prepare.  They always have those extra little excuses.  You know the ones…..Let me finish my game…….Just two more minutes…….But I wanted to play with this toy.  We give a 5 minute warning, and then follow it up with a 2 minute one.  Once we complete the count down the routine begins.  We head straight up to bath time. After that we jump into some PJ’s.
Once everyone is ready for bed we watch one episode on TV.  This is where free on demand has become my friend!  In our house the vote is usually for Little Einsteins or Chuggington, we are big Disney fans. It is great to start a show that the kids love at the needed time.  They usually don’t have commercials so they go by quicker.  I find that by having them sit and watch just a little TV helps them unwind and relax.
Then once the episode is over it is up to bed.  For my 13 month old son it only takes a few quick minutes of rocking and singing in the glider and he is down for the night. For my 3 1/2 year old daughter it is as simple as tucking her in and giving her a kiss good night!
There are many other things that are great to have as part of your nightly routine:
Reading books
Singing songs
Simply sitting as a family and talking about your day!  Just about anything can work as long as you follow the routine that works best for your family!

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