I am a domestic Goddess for a household of 8: myself and my hubby, my 2 boys and 1 girl as well as a husky and 2 fat lazy cats. I maintain (I use that term loosely!) 3 blogs, a twitter account, a goodreads account and a facebook writer/artist page. I am a voracious reader and come from a loud noisy family. I love to laugh and watch movies (though not always at the same time!). I am writing my first novel. For more humorous writings, recipes reviews, stories about being a mom and more, check out my blog, LaLa Land at www.lara-lalaland.blogspot.com.

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Getting Kids to Bed the Quick and Painless Way

Ha! Sucked you right in didn’t I?  There IS no quick and painless way to, well, to do anything in parenting–let’s be honest!  Right now, someone is going to be feeling the pain if they don’t stop running up and down the stairs, but that’s another post.  It’s especially painful and excruciating when you’ve already created a bad habit(s).  But not to fear!  Read on!

Bedtime routines should be started at birth.  Truly.  Turn the lights off.  Only use a night-light when doing night-time check-ups and diaper changes.  Play soft music or a white noise machine. These things all help a baby or child’s body recognize that there is a transition happening:  No lights.  Soft music.  Bedtime story.  Night after night.

I highly recommend putting both babies and children down while still awake, not after they have fallen asleep on your lap in the rocking chair (we got ours pretty cheaply from the local Burlington!) or you’ve rubbed their backs until you’ve both fallen asleep.  I can tell you, it wastes a lot of your time!! I finally got sick of lying down with my 3 year old at 7:45pm only to wake up sore and contorted 2 hours later!  And all I could think was: I was going to take a hot bath!  There was going to be a snack and reading!  I have laundry to fold!!  I’m missing my only TV time that I’ve waited ALL DAY for!!  And how does this benefit your child, this falling asleep together?  They become reliant on you to sleep.  They are now dreadfully difficult for someone else to put to sleep.  You’ve lost 2 hours and they weren’t quality hours: the kid was asleep!  OR you have a tremendous mess to clean up because once you fell asleep, said toddler slipped out of bed and trashed their bedroom.  Any way you look at it, not a good scenario!

Remember the key words of parenting that I will be reiterating until you are mumbling them in your sleep:  Consistency.  Modeling.  Training for Independence.  Good Habit Routines.

This is how we roll at night: baths first.  As soon as baths are done, I (or more likely my hubby, I’m usually taking care of the baby) follow them into their rooms and turn on their bedtime music while they are dressing.  They are then told, one to brush teeth, one to pick a bedtime story, then they switch.  We cuddle on the bottom bunk and read their 2 stories and then they are off to bed!  At this point, we get no arguing.  The only time we have issues is when we have been trapped inside all day and Gabe, who’s four, wins the award for Most Likely to Act Up!  Luckily, we have a spare room.  They get one warning and then I will sweep in like Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty and haul the offender away to fall asleep in the spare room; mommy don’t play that.  I need my peace at night!

However, please, please, please, do not make this crazy complicated long bedtime routine that you and only you can do properly to get your child to fall asleep!  Babysitters cannot follow it.  Your husband cannot follow it.  If you try to skip a step, the child freaks out.  This is not good for anyone!   I do what I can to wear my boys out (and so does my hubby: if they are rambunctious throughout the bedtime routine, he often stages a wrestling match to help them get rid of extra energy!).  That’s really the first step in getting kids to go to bed: wear them out first!  If they are exhausted, there’s not going to be a lot of fooling around or protesting!

The other thing I do is  if my boys, who sleep in a bunk bed, are not settling well, I encourage them to close their eyes, listen to their music and visualize their favorite place (suggestions: the beach… Disney… the Lego store!).  Visualization is an actual tool (no I didn’t make this up!) to help adults relax, so why shouldn’t we be encouraging our children to do so?  I’d say 8 out of 10 times, this works and I don’t hear a peep out of them!

Again, having your kids be dependent on you in order to fall asleep makes no sense and I’ll tell ya why!  Some kids are so wrapped up in their unhealthy sleep patterns, it becomes very disruptive to your life.  Ever been out at someone else’s house and had your child freaking out because they’re over-tired but won’t sleep unless……(fill in the blank)?  Ever had a sitter call you while on your date night because your child is screaming bloody murder and won’t settle down, they keep asking for…….(fill in the blank)?  Ever hear a mom say, almost apologetically, “S/He won’t go to sleep unless I……(fill in the blank)” ?  Ever realized you were out of or lost something critical to the bedtime routine and now your spouse has to go out and get it or your child won’t sleep?  What a pain!  Make things easier on yourself!  (I feel like an infomercial!)  Get a bedtime routine!  Start immediately if you don’t have one.  It will take some time, so be patient, but behavior CAN be changed!  (yours and theirs!)  Good luck!

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Comments (7)

  1. Armanda Jass 04/17/2013 at 5:11 pm

    I remember vividly the day my family moved from Cedar Rapids, Iowa to Chicago. I was all of ten years old and like any child would be, excited to see the city. My father had received a promotion at the bank he had worked at since well before I was born and we were now leaving the relative comfort of our home for an apartment on Michigan Avenue. Driving into the city was almost surreal, and although sullen over leaving my friends behind, I was enthralled with the possibility of great opportunities that lay ahead. All the wonder and amazement I was experiencing after having traveled through the concrete canyons of the Windy City was soon overshadowed by the news that my father decided to impart to me the moment we entered our new domicile. I would be sharing a room with my younger brother.:

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  2. Caitlin {Pacifier In My Pocket} 02/15/2011 at 3:46 pm

    Really good advice. I made the mistake of holding my son until he was completely asleep, then moving him into his bed, up until he was 9 months old. As soon as I put him to bed sleepy, but awake, he started to sleep longer (which meant I got to sleep longer too!). It wasn’t an easy transition, but I hope I remember my own advice in the future so that I’ll start sooner if we have another child.

  3. Beth 02/14/2011 at 8:58 pm

    Hi Lara,

    I’m doing the 31 DBBB at SITS and saw your post and thought I’d visit. “YorkMama” caught my eye since I’m originally from York, PA. I live in VA now, but get back to York frequently to visit my parents and sister.

    Just had to say and good luck in the challenge!


  4. Sarita Edgerton 02/11/2011 at 12:57 pm

    We have had a great routine but it seems that it is taking us longer and longer to get them to actually go to sleep. Often times, 10:00 arrives and they are still talking and I am still yelling(or my hubby is when I work). Very frustrating!

    • Lara Taylor 02/11/2011 at 5:17 pm

      Yes, we have a hard time some nights with our 4 and 6 year olds who are in bunk beds. My 4 year old in particular can be a boogar about settling down. We just separate them. But again, we find they are the worst when they have’t had time/opportunity to get rid of extra energy. Bundle ’em up, take ’em out! lol ride bikes in the garage or on the porch. OR you could start the bedtime process at about 6:30pm—back up the process so they can crap around and still be asleep by 9pm! 🙂

  5. josie milano 02/07/2011 at 11:21 pm

    I’m with you on this one!! my oldest is 4 years old and was a nightmare as an infant. She wouldn’t sleep anywhere but her swing for the first 6 months-luckily that meant she didn’t want to sleep with us either!- but once she was 6 months we had her in the crib and her routine stuck. My 1 yr. old knows when lights go off and music on it’s night night. It makes it so much easier with one on one time for my husband and I! Routines are a must!!

  6. Sara 02/07/2011 at 9:51 pm

    I am totally on board with you! I have done the routines with both of my boys since they were 10 weeks old and while sleeping through the night for the baby has been a harder thing to sell, the getting them down first thing in the night has never been a problem! So glad I did it that way!