I don't know about you guys, but around my home, getting my 3 yr old daughter to fall asleep is about as easy as ice skating on a gravel road. Kevyn will do whatever it takes to stretch out a few more minutes of consciousness. Anything from pulling her eyelids to clapping her hands...You name it, she's tried it.

So, how does everyone in the group do it? Or how did you do it when your kids were younger? I'm sure that each of you had your own special techniques, and I'd like to hear about them. I'm sure that anyone else suffering through my situation would as well.

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Oh yeah. Just when we seem to get into a good rhythm for a few weeks, it all goes to heck again. But when it DOES work, at about 7 we eat dinner, then go on a half hour walk. Eight o'clock is computer games together, followed by bath time. Nine o'clock is the last half hour of TV (not all the time, but if so, this is it). At 9:30 we brush our teeth together and then snuggle under the covers for story time. I read as many books as he wants, but always end with the same two: Goodnight Moon and Time for Bed. By the time I get to TFB, he pulls the covers up over his face :) But since summer started? Well, it's 10:25 and he's awake and I'm on the computer, so obviously I've let this get totally out of hand. We're gonna go do our teeth now and hopefully I can save the evening a little bit :)

(It sucks having the computer in the living room, which is also my dining room, his bedroom, etc. It means I have to log off before I put him to bed or he's up late!)
Schedule. And routine. Helped us plenty. Plus I tell her she doesn't have to close her eyes but she has to be still. We let her read (look at) books in bed since it's still pretty light out when she goes to bed, that seems to help.

She was a HORRIBLE go to sleeper when she was younger tho. I'm not sure what happened...preschool maybe?
Yes, having (or at least trying to have) a routine helps. We found that sequence is more important than clocks, so actual bedtime can vary a bit, depending on how tired she is and how the day went.

It also helps to have her tired and exhaused at the end of the day (afternoon activity: going to the playground, swimming or just letting her walk home from the supermarket instead of pushing her in the buggy).

Also starting at about a quarter of an hour before dinner we try to tone down activities a bit, switching off music, radio and trying to get her to play something that does not involve running around.

Our approximate schedule:

19:00 dinner
then playing (again preferably things that won't get her too excited)
20:15 bathroom, brushing teeth
then snuggling and reading books.
My Emma is 3 1/2 and she, like most kids, goes through phases of cooperation and rebellion. I agree that routine is essential, even when the child fights every bit of it. These days, Emma is cooperative. Betime routine starts at 7:30 with brushing teeth and jammies, then potty and to bed, and asleep by 8:30 Emma gets 3 books read to her, and 3 songs sung UNLESS she is uncooperative during the routine. Threatening to take away books/songs usually helps keep her on track, but certainly doesn't prevent her from getting back out of bed once tucked in. A few times we've found her in the hallway hiding around the corner looking at books, so we decided to allow her a little push-light and bring books to bed. That helps. I'm sure next week she'll be back to her old tricks, complaining that Swiper the Fox is in her room, or having to go potty and get a drink of water 3 or 4 more times. Just roll with it. They are only this little for a very brief time...enjoy as much of it as possible.
We had those "fights" with Ethan from about age 3-4. It was so bad that I finally told him that I don't care what time he goes to sleep, he can stay up all night if he wants. I also told him that I don't want to hear him after we kiss goodnight (8pm) and he must stay in his room. We did this last year just about the time the sunset was happening later and he spent the summer staying up as late as 10pm. Believe it or not, this approach worked. We still had to remind him now and then to quiet down, but taking this approach allowed us to take the pressure off all of us to "make sure he's asleep by X time" and it gave him the freedom to decide when he was sleepy.

I'm now finding the same approach is helping with Justin who is three and not only losing his nap but noticing that it's not dark at bedtime. He's just starting to come up with all manner of excuses for coming out of his room. So we have "bedtime/naptime rules". He can stay up and play as long as he wishes but he must be quiet as a mouse so he doesn't disturb anyone else and must stay in his room. he's always slept better than Ethan so I expect/hope we won't have to have the same experience we did with Ethan if we start doing this now.

I have to admit that I'm a bit of a stickler about bedtime. Come 8pm I don't want to be with my kids any more. I've been with them all day long, often all evening long by myself and I'm ready for my time. I've noticed that we seem to put our kids to bed earlier than some people in our neighborhood. It doesn't help when they see other kids out riding bikes while they're being tucked into bed. But oh, well. Summer will probably be slightly different but until school is out I'm sticking to my schedule.
I guess we deviate from the norm. Up until just this year, all three of my kids were home educated. So we had the freedom to live by pretty much any schedule we liked. As a result, we let the kids sleep when they wanted to. I like to go to bed around 9pm...my dd8 for awhile preferred going to bed around 10 or 11pm. Lately, she goes between 8 and 8:30. My ds6 sometimes will stay up with her but usually goes to bed with me. This year though, their 16 year old brother started school and we have to take him around 7:30am. I still don't enforce bedtime but they know they have to at least roll out of bed and into the car to do that. On weekends everyone is free to go to bed and wake up whenever they want. Because of years of learning how their body feels when it needs sleep they pretty much self-regulate now. We don't have fights because they know that the only time I'm gonna suggest turning in early is for an unusual circumstance and they respect that.

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