When we were pregnant with our first child, my husband and I read all of the books that we were “supposed to” in the hopes of making the transition to the role of Parent as smooth as we could. We were particularly interested in how to get our baby to sleep well because any new parent will tell you that sleep is a valuable commodity.
One thing that seemed to be a common theme in everything we read about how to get your children to get a good night’s sleep was to create a bedtime routine. We started this pretty much off the bat with each of our kids. When they were babies we would give them a warm bath at the end of the day, followed by a final feeding in the rocking chair in their room before putting them down.
My kids are now school-aged (seven, five and three) and my husband and I both work, so a good night’s rest is important for our entire family. Our bedtime routine happens in the same order and at the same time every night. We start winding down around 7 pm with cuddling on the couch and reading (or watching SYTYCD – my kids love it). The kids no longer need a bath/shower every day but if they do, it happens during this time. The half-hour between 7:30 and 8:00 consists of a bedtime snack (fruit, cereal, or something else healthy), followed by teeth brushing, a final toilet stop, giving thanks for our day and then a kiss and a hug. The lights are off at 8 PM on the dot.
There are some nights where we break the rules – two weeks ago we went to a friend’s house for a barbecue and the kids weren’t in bed until 9:30. The same thing happened this past weekend when we treated them to the 7 PM showing of Toy Story 3. My kids did not seem to be born with the ability to sleep in, which means that they awoke at their usual time of 7 AM and were a little bit (or a LOT) sensitive during that next day.
Apart from special events, we stick to the same routine and everybody’s happy. The kids know what to expect and go to bed with little fuss, and my husband and I can get them tucked in with nary a battle before going downstairs to have time to ourselves. We get time to recharge and regroup and then the entire family wakes up refreshed and ready to face the next day. Win, win.
Angella is the wife of one and the mom of three. She is a Chartered Accountant during the day and a writer/photographer by night. You can see what she’s up to over at her site Dutch Blitz www.dutchblitz.net, or read her blurbs on Twitter : @AngellaD