Many parents find trying to get their child to bed at night to be one big battle. During bedtime struggles, the child may play, whine and even cry.
Once in bed, the child may repeatedly get out of bed and come downstairs.
I don’t know about you, but I find this frustrating, especially on nights I’m trying to spend time with my husband to have an adult conversation. Focusing on my marriage is important to me!
Relaxing at the end of a long day is also difficult when dealing with stall tactics at bedtime.
In this article I share advice on how to successfully get your child into bed at night, without all of this fuss.
End Bedtime Struggles!
Some children even though they know that they are tired, do not want to miss out on any of the action or excitement. They want to spend as much time with mom and dad as possible. They can even see the fact that they have to go to bed before their parents as unjust and even cruel. These types of children will want to disrupt and even avoid going to bed at all cost.
I have been through this experience with my own two young children. Both children have been known to be very moody in the morning after a late night.
As a parent, it can become very frustrating as well as upsetting when you see your child crying because they do not want to go to bed. Comments like, “please, mom, just one more chapter” or “can I get a drink of water?” were far too regular, and at times I felt like backing down.
But I know backing down and letting the kids have their way doesn’t help anyone.
Top Bedtime Stall Tactics
Toddlers are notorious for delaying bedtime, but older kids aren’t immune to creating their fair share of bedtime battles
- “I’m not tired”
- Realize they’re suddenly hungry
- Need a drink … which turns into:
- Need to use the potty
- Want another story
- Claim it’s too hot/cold
- Have to tell you about their day
- Want extra snuggles
- Forgot their stuffed animal
You’ve got to check out this comedian’s Instagram Videos depicting kids and delaying bedtimes!
So what do you do about bedtime stalling?
Enforce Bedtime Routines
I have learned best through parenting books and countless articles that all played a role in ending bedtime struggles with my children. Each child now has a set time when they have to be in bed.
Toddlers and preschoolers don’t really get much of a say, but as kids get older, it’s okay to negotiate appropriate bedtimes! Just make it perfectly clear that if they show signs that bedtime is too late, you have the ultimate say in making changes.
The next step is geared toward early preparation. Younger children should start the bedtime routine earlier. They get changed into their pajamas and brush their teeth around half an hour before bedtime.
If the bedtime routine is completed before bed, they can spend the rest of the time playing with their toys. If children want to play before bed, we ensure that the games are relaxing and not too energetic.
Stop Food & Drinks Before Bed
Getting up to pee has always been the larger problem in our bedtime struggles. And it’s even worse when a child is potty training.
Dinner is at least 1 hour before bed, but I’ve always aimed for closer to two hours. And an after dinner treat follows only if our children eat their meals. We don’t offer snacks right before bed, especially anything sugary.
Both children are given one final sip of water before bed and are scurried to the restroom to begin their nightly routines.
By relieving their bladders before bed, this reduces the chance of a bathroom rush or accident in the middle of the night.
Story At Bedtime
Reading stories at night is something I believe in, whole-heartedly! This is something they both love and helps them to wind down and relax. And, I find it’s one of the easier ones to instill to end bedtime battles.
We choose one age-appropriate book each to read before bed. As my daughter got older, her books turned into single chapters (sometimes two depending on the length of a chapter).
Reading to my children gives us a chance to bond, have a little fun, and relax. Not to mention, nighttime reading typically fills a homework requirement as the children start school, so we’re killing two birds with one stone.
Explain Importance Of Sleep
I have explained to each child the importance of sleep (how it gives our brains a chance to process what it learns and allows our body to rest and heal). Bedtime is the part of the day we should enjoy instead of seeing it as some sort of punishment.
And believe me, I haven’t been above telling my kids how much I wished I could go to sleep when they did! Instead, mommy has more chores and work to complete before she’s allowed to go to bed.
Make Their Bedroom Inviting
I have tried to make their bedrooms their own special space that they want to retreat to.
Each of their rooms has elements that suit their personalities.
My daughter’s room has light blue walls and a comforter with whimsical dinosaurs (as she had been into dinosaurs for a very long time).
My son’s room is a dark green and he has a metal Jeep bed with a camo comforter. He’s all about automobiles and construction equipment.
Play Quiet, Soothing Sounds
For as long as I can remember, I’ve played white noise in my baby’s rooms. White noise for baby’s sleep often helps babies doze off more easily and drowns out ambient noises that are likely to startle a wee one.
I’m still using white noise for my son, who is now 4.
I did the same for my daughter until she began requesting music at night. Then, I began allowing her to listen to calm, quiet music to help her drift off to sleep.
The volume is low and if we have trouble with the kids waking and crying in the middle of the night, it’s one of the things we evaluate as a trigger.
Sleep & Wake Clock
This last section is for the particularly difficult kids who just can’t help but test the limits! You know the ones …
They get out of bed to play.
They hang out at the top of the stairs.
They sneak downstairs.
They wake up the whole house way too early!
For the kids who need to learn boundaries, we found it particularly helpful to have a special alarm clock (I really like this one!).
This clock turns color (ours is yellow) when lights must go out and you’re not allowed out of bed. Then, it turns green when it’s acceptable to get up and wake others.
This clock is set by the parent, so you choose the times for sleep and waking up. And, while it was ever so helpful, it’s important to remember to go over rules with your children, especially with kids who are potty training! You don’t want them to feel they’re not allowed to leave the bed if they need to potty!
These tips have helped to make our childrens’ bedtimes a pleasant experience. Although, as you’re aware, it hasn’t always been the case.
The children themselves are now into a routine, and one we are all pretty happy with.
I believe the key to all this comes down to
- understanding the importance of sleep
- creating calming routines
- sticking to routines/rules
Most nights, our bedtime struggles are a thing of the past!