Putting your kid to bed can be one of the most relaxing bonding experiences you can get into with them. It can also be a hassle on those days when they just aren't feeling and you aren't up for the bedtime battle. Because bedtime battles are a real thing, to which any parent can attest, we can all use tips to avoid bedtime hassles with kids. Sure, sometimes it's an amazing thing to be able to read book after book to an eager three-year-old and then snuggle with them in their narrow, stuffed animal crowded bed for a little while before they fall asleep but sometimes, it's not so easy.
Sometimes, all your kid wants to do is get out of bed every five minutes, appearing in the living room doorway like they aren't supposed to be sleeping rather than interrupting your glass of wine and Netflix binging. And it's on days like these when we can all use tips to get through the bedtime battles that follow, because no matter how many good days you have, there will be those random nights when your kid is all about pushing the limits and testing you to see how far they can take you before you break.
Yes, your kid is already that smart. After you digest that, consider the fact that there is hope for getting through bedtime battles while maintaining your sanity. Go figure, right?
15 Get Into a Routine
The best thing you can do is get into a routine with your child. Whether they are three-months-old or three-years-old, a routine, when enforced, will work wonders in cementing a solid bedtime process. Some parents recommend the rule of three where you pick three things to do in the same order every night, which turns into the sort of routine and structure that kids actually thrive on and come to look forward to. For example, you can use teeth brushing, face washing, and then a bedtime story as the three steps in the before bed process.
14 Figure out the Right Bedtime
While 7 p.m. may have been the perfect bedtime for your one-year-old, your almost three-year-old may be waking up earlier and tossing and turning for a good hour before falling asleep because that bedtime just isn't a good fit for them anymore. Sure, they're still your "baby" through and through but they're also growing through those toddler years into a full-fledged little kid capable of staying up an hour later and, in turn, actually being tired when they get to bed.
13 Don't Rush Perfection
It's easy to get frustrated when your new bedtime routine gets interrupted by a family event or while you're away for a weekend but that's totally normal. And if your kid goes a week doing well with the routine and then relapses like kids are known to do, don't take it too personally. They'll get there but it will take time. Kids are flexible and resilient but they also need time to get used to change, so be patient and don't be quick to rush them too much.
12 Sleeping Through the Night Is Different for Everyone
If your current bedtime issue with your little one is getting them to sleep through the night, stop Googling your questions about it right now. And for the love of everything good and holy, stop asking every other parent you know about how their kid did with sleeping through the night. Because, as many will tell you, sleeping through the night is different for all kids. For some of them, it may happen at in the first month, and for other kids, they may still have a late night wake up or two until into their early toddler years.
11 Don't Fall for That Third Request for a Glass of Water
Kids are nothing if not master manipulators. So, when they creep out of their bedroom asking for a glass of water and citing that as their reason for being unable to sleep, don't give them the benefit of the doubt. Okay, scratch that. Give in once, let them enjoy their thirst quencher, and then let that be that. If they saunter out of their room again a half hour later, don't fall for it and send them right back on their merry way.
10 Give Them Bedtime Warning Notices
Imagine if you were watching your favorite movie and suddenly someone walked in the room to tell you to turn it off right now and get to bed. That wouldn't be too cool, right? So, put yourself in your kid's shoes for just a little while and consider giving them warning notices first. As in, "five minutes until bedtime" or "we're brushing your teeth after this episode ends." It's easy to want to do things on your terms as the parent and adult in the situation but working with your kid isn't the worst thing in the world.
9 Remember That Crying Will Happen
And it's totally okay. Your kid will cry to get out of lots of things in their childhood, and being sent to bed, afraid they'll "miss out on something" will likely be one of those nonsensical reasons. But crying or whining is one of the main reasons babies, toddlers, and little kids express their feelings, so try not to take it personally. While the "crying it out" method may be a thing of the past for you, should your kid be old enough to not need that sort of method, think back on it and the benefits from letting your child calm themselves down until you do need to intervene.
8 Don't Make a Habit of Bed Sharing
Now, don't get it twisted--snuggling with your kid is nothing short of amazing for any parent. And yes, napping together sometimes to justify your own midday break and falling asleep while watching a movie are completely acceptable. But making a habit of sharing your bed with your kid on any given night will make it that much harder to convert them to sleeping alone in their own bed. So, try to get in the habit of pointing them in the direction of their bed as early as you can.
7 Entertain Monster Under the Bed Worries--for a Little While
While it's completely irrational for your kid to be afraid of non-existent monsters under their bed or in their closet, they also have a wild imagination that is much crazier than anything you can likely come up with yourself. So yes, these fears are very real for them. Check for monsters and assure them of their safety, if only to help them fall asleep and stay asleep. Eventually, these monster worries will fade away and you'll actually be nostalgic for the monster hunting days.
6 Don't Freak out if Naps Become a Thing of the Past
Can you imagine a world without naps in your house? Unfortunately, this will eventually be the case. This will also mean no more naps for you if you've become used to taking naps on schedule with your kid. But if they are suddenly less into napping in the middle of the day, don't worry about it. It just means they'll sleep better at night and will have an easier time falling asleep.
5 Talk to Your Toddler About the Bedtime Routine
It's one thing to tell your toddler they're going to bed and that's that. But there is something to be said for actually discussing the new bedtime routine with them. Let them know each step before you start, and go through the steps of your bedtime routine. It will help them look forward to each step. Eventually, they will go for their own toothbrush and take out their pajamas. Okay, so it may be a little while before they can lay out their own matching pajama sets but we can dream, can't we?
4 Give Them a Time Limit for Unwinding in Bed
For some parents, lights out while in bed means it's time for sleep, and if that works for you and your family, then more power to you. For some other parents, it's necessary to let your kid wind down a bit even after they climb into bed and after all of the stories and monster checks. So, let them lay alone in bed while playing with a stuffed animal or flipping through a book quietly. But do give them a time limit. Something as simple as a quiet kitchen timer placed on their dresser can help them be aware of and then know when their unwinding time is over.
3 Don't Worry if You're Over or Under Schedule
As parents, we get into schedules and we love keeping to those schedules every day. So when things are a little out of wack, it's easy to stress out about it. After all, before you had kids, you may have been the most on time or early person out of everyone you know, so yeah, it's an adjustment. But if you're putting your toddler to bed and suddenly realize you started the routine too early or are just getting them into bed a half hour later than you usually do, don't fret. If they haven't noticed, you're golden.
2 Anticipate Their Excuses Before You Tuck Them In
This means getting them that glass of water before they can get out of bed to request it and then making sure they use the bathroom before bed, and getting them every blanket and stuffed animal they might eventually call out for. Don't get us wrong--they could still very well play you and request something totally new and out there but you'll have at least covered most of the possibilities.
1 Remember That Consistency Is Key
When you're trying to avoid bedtime battles and get into a routine with your kid, the most important thing to remember is consistency. If you can help it, stick to your guns and stay on course with whatever rules and regulations you and your partner have set in place for the bedtime hour. If you can stay with it, thereby keeping your kid on track, you'll get there, we promise.