The word "bedtime" conjures up images of children hopping into PJs, snuggling under the covers, and sweetly calling out "Good night, Mom and Dad." For parents, reality is often different. Kids don't want to go to bed. Once you get them in bed (finally), they get right back out. There are many theories about how to get your kids to sleep, but this column is not about that. The suggestions listed here are for establishing a bedtime ritual -- a nightly rite that will soothe your children and send them off to the land of sweet dreams without tears, tantrums or tug-of-wars. The best part of the suggestions here is that they can be modified to fit your own family. So get ready to actually look forward to bedtime.
Set Up a Schedule to Avoid Night Time Struggles
"Do you have a routine before bedtime or do you just say 'Go to bed?' It's best to establish a routine very early on. It worked with my two kids and I've never had a problem with putting my kids to bed. We have a bath, have a snack, read a book, brush teeth, say prayers and go to bed. It really helps to have a quiet time prior to bedtime to get them in the mood and their bodies prepared to go to sleep."
"We had a lot of trouble getting our daughter in bed at night. Then, I put a schedule of her bedtime routine on the wall, and we would read what it said and then do it. She had so much fun following the schedule, which listed things like getting into her pajamas, brushing her teeth, reading a story, kissing her stuffed animals goodnight, that soon she was reminding us it was bedtime! Now I catch her looking at the schedule and telling herself what needs to be done. If we leave even one thing out she refuses to go to bed. At first it was really hard, but now as soon as she has eaten dinner and finished her evening activity, she drags me upstairs to put her to bed."
~ Rachel, Colorado