Friday, April 26, 2013

Night Night.....Getting Kids to Bed Without Too Much Drama

And this is what happens when the bedtime schedule/routine is ignored......falling asleep on my bed with rollar skates on!
I had a mom ask me advice for how to get kids to bed without too many tears and without it taking half the night.  While I'm not an expert on sleep and bedtime, I will let y'all know how we do it and what works for us.  I've mentioned bedtime a little in some other posts, but I don't think I've done a complete post about it, so here goes.

First of all, while I do have my young babies sleep with me some when they are nursing a good bit at night, we are not a co-sleeping family.  Each child and baby has their own bed or crib and I try to get them used to it pretty early.  So, if you are a "family-bed" type person, then this post may not relate to you.  I also don't sleep well with a child in bed with me (unless my husband is out of town or they are really little) so if a child comes in our room in the middle of the night due to sickness or fear, then we have them sleep on the floor by our bed.  I keep extra blankets and pillows in our bedroom for this purpose.  I've woken up in the morning many times with 2-3 children sleeping on the floor around our bed.  The great thing about this is they usually don't like to sleep on the floor too many nights or for too long before they realize their own bed is much more comfortable. 

As far as bedtime routine, we try to keep it just that.....a routine.  We are pretty consistent with the time we start the whole routine as well.  First we give them all a snack, usually after pajamas and baths (we don't do baths for everyone every night.)  Then they go upstairs and brush teeth.  We then read them a book, say prayers with them, sing a song, give hugs and kisses and that's it.  Usually one of us does this with the 4 who need it (ages 5-11.)I'm not counting my teenagers here since they are pretty self-sufficient. The other parent puts the little boys down about a half hour or so earlier.  For the little ones (ages 2-4), we brush teeth, read 1-2 picture books rock and sing, pray and that's it.  The one parent that didn't put the others down, of course has to go check on them and give them a goodnight kiss.  This is a must (at least to them : ) and they will usually not fall to sleep until both parents (of course this is if both parents are home) have kissed them goodnight. 

We do discipline if a child is disobedient and keeps getting out of bed.  I don't move my children out of a crib until 2 1/2 at least.  I think toddlers are driven to get up after being put down to sleep and sometimes just can't control themselves (especially boys.)  I don't discipline them for getting up until I know that they understand completely what they are doing.  Plus, I think for safety sake it's better to keep them in the crib longer.  Unless of course, they are climbing out, which none of my kids have learned to do, thankfully. If child is crying in their bed or crib, we do go in and console or rock them every 15 minutes or so until they go to sleep.  This actually rarely happens with my children though. 

I've mentioned this before but we have "white noise" type fans in most of the bedrooms, especially the younger ones.  I think this kind of lulls them to sleep some and it keeps them from hearing all the "fun" activity going on after they have been put to bed.  I think this is a must if your home is small or you have older kids that stay up much later, even later than the parents!

Now, of course not everything goes perfectly.  We have one child that usually gets up a few times to come "check" on us but she will get in trouble if she does this more than once.  We also have one other girl right now that won't sleep in her own bed alone.  She wants to sleep in a bed with a sibling just about every night.  We worked out a schedule for her at the moment.  She is a real cuddle bunny and also is a little paranoid of bugs.  We're all hoping she out grows this stage soon. 

As far as dealing with fear, we pray with them, say Bible verses, have night lights and usually leave the door open. We have had children over the years that have gone through stages of being more than a little scared.  We have found that Christian story CD's, quiet classical music or even the Bible on CD really has helped.  Putting that on quietly when we leave the room and turn out the big light, really gets their mind off any scary thoughts.  I have 2 boys particularly, that have always fallen asleep to classical music or story tapes. If you are having a child with fear issues, I would make sure they are not watching anything scary or disturbing or even just too much stimulation during the day.  It also helps when you have more than a few children, so each child has someone to share a room with : )


  1. We have a very similar bedtime routine, and it works great for us. Sounds like you've got it all figured out. If I may ask, how many bedrooms does your house have and how do you divide the kids? I feel like you may have written about this before, but I don't know how to find it. We're looking to build, and while we have one daughter (4) and two sons (3 and 1) at the moment, we would both like a large family, so we're trying to plan ahead while looking at floor plans (we want to build). I'm torn between a couple of loft-style bedrooms and several more traditional rooms that would be big enough for multiple kids. Any opinions?


    1. Hi Kimberly, our current house has 5 official bedrooms, but at one time we had 7 bedrooms (we turned the bonus/play room into a bedroom and the study.) My kids have all shared bedrooms at one time or another and I really think it is good for them. At the current time, they are all sharing rooms and no one is complaining. My 3 girls are all together in a big bedroom, my middle boys share and then my little boys share. My older daughter still has her room, but now that she is in college she is rarely there. Funny, none of the other kids have asked to move in there. We use it as a guest room if need be. We also have a double bed in our school room, which is supposed to be a study, for my older boys when they come home from college. If you have the choice for building either loft-style bedrooms or traditional bedrooms, I would go for the traditional, mostly because of the noise and privacy. Anyway, hope this helps! Blessings!

  2. I have gotten into the habit of putting the little ones to bed and then going to bed myself because I am so tiered from being pregnant. That leads to my big kids staying up to late with Dad. At what age do you let your big kids set their own bedtime and deal with the consequences of being tiered? Also If I may ask another question at what age do you let you kids start having caffeine? Thanks for a great post I loved your sweet tea recipe also. I need to start making it, being a southern girl myself I have to say it is one thing I miss the most!

    1. Hey Tesha, I had to laugh at your caffeine question. I'm sure my children start getting caffeine in my breast I love coffee, tea and chocolate. Anyway, my children around 4 start having a little drop of coffee in a mug of warm milk in the morning (not all of them have liked this, but the ones who do I give it to.) I think this is better that hot chocolate which has so much sugar. As far as having a cup of coffee with cream, like my husband and I do, I don't let them have that until 14 or so. My older kids were closer to college age. As far as setting their own bedtimes, that would probably not be until they are 18. Now on the weekends I'm not so strict, but as long as they are in high school, I don't let them stay up too late. My teens in the home now are in bed by 10 at the latest on week nights and a little later on the weekends. But they are up early, so they are usually tired and go to bed on their own.

  3. Good morning Becca,
    Please could you explain me what "white noise"mean?
    A big kiss from spain

  4. Hello Belen, white noise means noise like a floor fan or bathroom fan. I have an air purifier in one of my little's room and the others have a fan on the floor that makes a soothing noise and blocks out anyother noise in the house (well, most of it anyway : )

    1. Thanks!!!
      Do you know that in one of your photos ( with yellow jacket) you look like a teen?? It's true!!
      Please.. A beauty routines post!!!

  5. Training the kids to sleep in their own bed as early as possible seems like a good thing. Good post.


Thanks so much for your comments! I love them and they keep me writing. I really do read each one.