Approaching my kids bedtime is similar to approaching the last few hours on a job. I am tired and really don’t want to be working anymore, but I know once I get through bedtime, my job is over (metaphorically speaking).
But sometimes bedtime can be a huge struggle. The kids are revved up and having trouble calming down. They fight about putting their pajamas on or having to go to the bathroom. They won’t let me leave the room until they fall asleep.
When I’m dealing with a lot of stalling, silliness, crying, or stubbornness at bedtime, I feel frustrated and impatient with my kids behavior. It can sometimes resort to me yelling which isn’t ideal for a calm bedtime.
Why is There a Struggle at Bedtime?
There are many reasons why a child may want to avoid going to bed. Elizabeth Pantley from Motherly mentions that the child may not be tired, or too tired, is afraid of something, lacks a solid bedtime routine, or just wants to spend more time with you.
If you have a toddler, they may be testing their independence a little more. They like to use bedtime to show you they have their own opinion, and want to make their own choices. Whether it’s not wanting to wear the pajamas you choose for them, or not wanting to stay in bed.
I find with my school age child, he gives me a hard time when I am about to leave his room at night, if he is experiencing something at school that is bothering him. Instead of telling me straight out, he acts goofy, or keeps telling me not to leave. He will finally tell me what is going on, but only after I feel frustrated about his sleep avoidance…
If you dread bedtime night after night. Read on for great tips on how to make bedtime easier from some of the best moms I know.
11 Best Tips for Making Bedtime Easier
Tip 1: Make bedtime fun or silly by having a race to get upstairs and into the bedroom. -Jennifer
The less stressed and more positive bedtime is, the more inclined your child will be to participate in the bedtime routine. Even though you may feel wiped out at the end of the night, pushing yourself to add a little silliness to bedtime could end the night on a great note.
Tip 2: Routine!! We start with bath, books, prayers, and talking about our day. Sometimes I will lay with her if she needs extra snuggles. But I leave before she is sleeping. I also keep some books at her bed side so she can look at them if she can’t seem to fall right asleep. The older she is the easier it is to put her to bed. – Jackie
A solid bedtime routine like this one provides security for the child because they don’t have to worry about what comes next. I especially love that Jackie has included time to talk with her daughter about their days. How secure her daughter must feel knowing that she has her moms sole attention at the end of the night to talk about anything that is swimming around in her mind.
Tip 3: Start early! Our little one likes to find a million different ways to procrastinate. Having lots of time makes her think she has control. It also prevents me from having to crack down and limits the number of meltdowns! – Danielle
Leaving yourself a lot of time to work through the bedtime routine with your child leads to a more calm bedtime. And the more control they feel they have, the less likely they will be to disobey or throw a fit.
Tip 4: Routine. We do pajamas, watch a show (sometimes w/a snack) and then read books. It’s our routine every night! – Missy
You can see a pattern here, right? Routine! This routine allows the kids to have some downtime, while they work their way into bed.
Tip 5: Provide a warning 20 minutes before bedtime, then 5 minutes, etc…I always have more luck when they have a bit of a warning first. And keeping routines consistent so that the kids know what to expect. -Colleen
Think about how you feel if you are watching your favorite TV show and someone just shuts it off and tells you to go exercise (or do something else you don’t really enjoy). I’m sure you would feel angry and resistant. Children feel the same way when we abruptly tell them it’s bedtime without a warning. They need time to process the transition and get ready to make the change. That’s why giving them a warning that bedtime will be approaching is a great idea.
Tip 6: I tell my kids they can stay up for an extra half hour to read quietly in their room. They feel like they are getting a bonus out of the deal by staying up late, and it helps to settle them down before bed while getting some reading in! – Kelly
Anything that allows reading is a win-win in my eyes! Plus, it’s a great habit for the kids to learn to use a book to drift off to sleep. This tip also encourages young kids to be in their room by themselves before falling asleep.
Tip 7: If there will be a change in the bedtime routine, tell the kids ahead of time. For example….typically we read 1 or 2 stories before bed, but on nights when they go to bed late we let them know that there will be no stories because of the time. They accept that easier since they knew ahead of time. -Alicia
Being upfront ahead of time if there is a change to the bedtime routine can eliminate a lot of push back from your child. Especially for a child who may have a hard time with even the simplest change in routine, giving them a heads up may not make them happy, but it will give them some time to process the change.
Tip 8: Take your child to bed with you. – Julia
Instead of having to go through the hassle of putting your child to bed, the child not wanting you to leave, or wondering in your room hours later and waking you up, consider co-sleeping with your child. Just a few of the benefits of co-sleeping past infancy, are more secure and confident kids.
Tip 9: Firm expectations. Making sure the kids know the rules and that we stick to them! -Caitlin, Inklings Artwork
It takes some “training”, but once kids know the rules around bedtime and you enforce them consistently, you are less likely to experience resistance. My son loves to act like he forgot he needs to go to the bathroom before putting his pajamas on. I have to remind him almost nightly. I don’t allow him to skip this part of the routine so even though he pushes back a little, there is never a meltdown on his part.
Tip 10: Set a timer to determine when you will leave your child’s room. – Gina Beltrami, Parent Magazine
In the article, “Stop Toddler Bedtime Battles” by Julie Knapp, mother Gina Beltrami shares that she sets a timer for five minutes and sits at the end of her sons bed, after tucking him in. After the timer goes off, he knows that she will leave and he has to rest by himself.
Maybe I am so drawn to this tip because I created the habit of laying with my son until he falls asleep. Some nights it’s only a few minutes, some nights it could be an hour. As much as I enjoy laying with him while he is still young, I am not doing him any favors by not allowing him to fall asleep alone. I am going to try this out!
Tip 11: Ditch bedtime. – Sara, Happiness is here
Instead of forcing kids to go to bed at a certain time, Sara allows her kids to make this decision for themselves. When they are tired they let her know and they start their bedtime routine. This helps the kids learn to trust themselves and creates a sense of control within their lives. And if you are wondering if the kids went wild staying up all night? Well, they actually chose to go to bed around 8pm the first night they had this freedom.
Make Bedtime Easier
From setting a scheduled routine, to allowing your kids to choose their own bedtime. Put one of these tips to the test, consistently, and see what happens?! Bedtime doesn’t have to be a painful and dreadful part of your day. I know that I am going to give tip #10 a try!
Let me know below, what do you dread most about bedtime? What tip from above do you plan on using? And if you have a tips to share to make bedtime easier, please do by clicking below! Thank you!