I am a stay-at-home mom of three children who are four and under. Trust me when I say chaos has become the norm in our household.
All day long your kids have been running circles around you. It has been an endless barrage of tears, bumps and bruises, dirty dishes, sippy cups, tantrums, and diapers—all you want to do is go to sleep. Only one thing left to do though: get the kids to bed. Sounds simple enough, right? Wrong.
If you feel like most moms, putting your kids to bed is like preparing to go into battle. Prepare for more tears, screaming, book reading, and much more. If you are lucky, you might fall asleep in your own bed tonight.
If you are a parent of children of any age, you know that bedtime is hard. Kids do not want to go to bed, no matter how badly you want them to. At the end of a long day, the fight it takes to get the children to bed can feel like the end of the world. It is especially hard when the children are younger, for instance a two-year-old and a four-year-old will put up twice the fight a 10-year-old would.
I am willing to bet that parents have often asked themselves, "What do I do about this?" There has to be an answer, right? How should parents attempt to make bedtime easier for themselves and for the exhausted little ones that they are trying to coax to sleep?
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Have a Consistant Routine
As a parent, life is chaos. It is hectic all day long, every day—especially if you parent more than one child. It may feel like it's all you can do to keep everyone fed, bathed, clothed, and safe. Many parents may be so busy just trying to keep it together that they don't realize just how important routines really are in a child's life. If you start a consistent routine before bedtime (at the same time every night), it might make it a little bit easier to get the little guys to bed. If you make said routine enjoyable for them, it will be even better. It may not work right away, but if you stick to the routine you set you should see results in a few days. This will happen as your children adjust to their new schedule and things just get easier.
Don't Fall for Their Tricks
It is true the stories you hear about kids always wanting something after you put them down for bed. A tired mom gets teeth brushed, little pajamas put on, multiple stories read, and finally thinks she is in the clear only to hear the little voice as she walks away, "Mom, I'm thirsty."
Kids do this ALL the time. That is no exaggeration either. However hard it may be, you should not give in to these little tricks they pull. Water and snacks are bad before bed, and more than likely, your child is seeing what they can get away with. Hold your ground when you say it is bed time. When you give in, it breaks the habit, and sometimes that means starting all over again. Consistency really is the key to many things in parenting.
Know When They Actually Need Something
Cranky kids before bed is normal. Most of the time, kids end up cranky or sad right before bed, especially the young ones. Although you are trying your best to stick to your set of rules for bedtime, be sure to know when your little one actually needs some extra attention. It would be horrible to mistake their cries for fighting sleep when they actually may not feel well or may be scared. Make sure all is well with your children before bed time. It will make you feel better and help everyone sleep at night.
Keep in mind through all of it, fighting sleep is usually just a phase. Yes, it is normal, no matter how frustrating it can get. If you keep your wits about you and have patience with your children, everything will work itself out over time. Never be afraid to ask for help or for advice either. Parenting is a learning experience and everyone needs help from time to time. Your sanity will thank you and so will your kids.