Wednesday, January 20, 2016

How I Stopped Bedtime Drama



For months, I did the bedtime routine I'm sure that many of you are familiar with:
  1. Soothing Bathtime
  2. Brush teeth
  3. PJs
  4. Read books
  5. Prayers
  6. Hugs & kisses
  7. Sleepy time
Only ours never went this smoothly. It was more like this:
  1. Exuberant Bathtime...splash all the water out of the tub soaking mommy in the process.
  2. Bargain with toddler to brush his teeth and end up doing it for him.
  3. Wrestle toddler into pajamas while he jumps on the bed.
  4. Pick out a minimum of 5 books. Read each book a minimum of 3 times.
  5. Say prayers. Thank God for Daniel Tiger, Goldfish crackers and the park, you know, the important stuff.
  6. Give hugs and kisses. Just one more, and another.
  7. Toddler asks for water.
  8. Toddler asks for a snack.
  9. Toddler asks for a back rub.
  10. Toddler finally drifts off after having his back rubbed for 20 minutes. 
  11. Mommy leaves the room.
  12. Toddler is awake and upset that his back is no longer being rubbed.
  13. Repeat steps 4 - 10 as necessary.
This exhausting routine went on night after night because I believed that this song and dance would lull my son into peaceful slumber and give me good mom bonus points because I was doing all the things "good" moms do. One night I decided I was done. After getting my son dressed for bed, I tucked him in, kissed his forehead, told him I loved him and that I'd see him in the morning. I turned around and left the room. BOOM. Mic Drop. Mom's out. No stories, no prayers, no requests for water and snacks. Just no. I waited in the other room for him to run out of his room raising all kinds of holy hell that mommy didn't follow the bedtime schtick. But here's the thing...he didn't. He FREAKING WENT TO SLEEP!

We have repeated the simplified bedtime every night for the last month. And sweet fancy Moses, it has been a game changer. I don't dread bedtime each night. I've recouped an hour of my day to spend alone with my husband, and amazingly our son is sleeping better. 

That's not to say that he doesn't peek his head out of his bedroom down the hallway at me after I've put him to bed. What has changed is that I do not engage. I no longer fly down the hallway to tuck him back in and start the routine anew. I tell him (from my comfy chair) "Hey Bubba, it's time to rest your body. Get back into bed." and that's that. He scampers up into his bed and typically when I check on him a few minutes later he's fast asleep clutching a truck, or frisbee, or whatever item has become precious to him that day.

For our boy, a simple bedtime is best. And once I let go of the ridiculous notion of mom guilt over not creating a magical bedtime experience for my two year old, I was happier too! Bottom line, we make life special for our kids in a variety of ways everyday. Not everything has to be sparkly and full of fairy-dust, and re-pinable for Pinterest. Maybe bedtime can just be bedtime.

(I am fully aware that by publishing this post, my son will likely decide to rage against this cruel new bedtime regime and develop some sort of 2 year sleep regression because #jinxing)

2 comments:

  1. This is a riot and pretty much now the routine goes over here with my toddler! And what's worse is that my guy loves to get up almost every. single. night. around 3 am and takes forever to get back to sleepšŸ˜« But fingers crossed your simple bedtime keeps working for you!

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  2. I will need to give this a think. My routine is definitely like your old routine. Stories. Talk about the day. Songs. Sleepy time poem. Sometimes we do pictures on his back. Sometimes I do some relaxation techniques. Sometimes both.

    We've always done stories and sleepy time poem but he would put uo a massive fight. It would go on for hours even though we said no to everything. We did it for about 12 months but when his grandmother died he started talking about feeling lonely at night and worrying about her so I started staying longer and ive actually found that even though I'm in there for an extra 20-30mins, he settles much faster.

    The only problem that's happening now is when the baby hasn't gone to sleep by his bed time sometimes I cant do all the extra stuff and then all he'll breaks loose which is quite frustrating

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