If you have to constantly think about how to get kids to go to bed when asked, it can turn bedtime into a stressful time. Bedtime is one of the best times of the day is because of the great conversations that come from tucking your kids into bed, but it can also turn into one of the most stressful times.
There is a funny quote that Mickey shared on his Instagram page, “It seems unfair that the people who want to go to bed have to put the people to bed that don’t want to go to bed.” – isn’t that the truth?
Many of us are already exhausted by bedtime and ready to have some downtime, so today we’re sharing tips about how to get kids to go to bed when asked. I’ll add affiliate links to our favorite bedtime products, as well.
How To Get Kids To Go To Bed When Asked
As I’ve mentioned before, a consistent bedtime plays a huge role in a child’s ability to go to sleep without a struggle, fall asleep easily, and stay asleep. When this consistent bedtime goes with a nightly routine, it makes bedtime much easier and more pleasant.
In fact, studies show that it only takes an average of “10 to 20 minutes to fall asleep once you climb into bed” – sleep.org
If you are ready to work on your routine, so your children will go to sleep when asked (the first time), these suggestions are going to help.
I recently asked my Facebook followers for their best tips and they came up with so many helpful ideas! I put together a list based on their suggestions and I am excited to share it with you today.
1. Bedtime Routine Poster
Bedtime routines help children learn to transition from the busy activity of the day to settle down for sleep. Bedtime is a time to teach children how to soothe themselves and how to relax. – psychcentral.org
It’s important to create a bedtime routine for your children, including bath time and reading. One of our readers had a great idea when she suggested her routine poster, “I had my son help me make a nighttime routine and we made a poster with the order of events on it.
Examples of items on the routine poster:
1. Go upstairs
2. Put on pajamas
3. Brush teeth (all teeth)
4. Read two books
5. Go to sleep.
The routine poster works because kids can come up with the majority of it and insist on things like “two books instead of one book.” They also get to decorate the poster and take it with them to sleepovers at Grandma’s. 🙂
2. Be consistent in your bedtime routine
Now that you have a plan, it’s important to follow that same routine every night. It helps your child get in a sleep routine that gives them regular sleep hours to avoid sleep problems down the road.
Make sure that everyone is aware of this routine and on the same page. This goes for any other family members who might help put the kids to bed. A routine is useless if it is not followed consistently.
Also, I realize that there may come a time when you are just so exhausted that you can’t do “all the things.” Don’t sweat it! Try to be as consistent as possible, but don’t worry if you have a few off-nights.
3. Don’t let them have any screen time before bed, including TV, tablets, or phones
Eliminating blue light in the evenings is key to a restful sleep. Our neurologist told me that he finds that children & adults alike have trouble falling asleep if they’ve used any blue light in the hours before bedtime.
Plus, kids are less grouchy when the screens are turned off at least an hour before bed. Coincidence? I think not.
4. Give A Countdown Time
Countdown times are so important in all transitions (like getting a child off of electronics without an argument.) Remind your child that they have ten minutes to finish what they are doing and then it will be time to clean up. Do this every night as you begin their transition into bedtime.
Example: “Ten minutes until we head upstairs for a bath”
5. Save Time to Talk
The most important thing about bedtime is the one on one time that you have with your child. As I mentioned in this post, “Mommy, Will you lay with me?”, it is during these nighttime conversations that the good stuff comes out!
My rule is simple: If they go to bed when asked, I will happily hang out in their room to chat for 10-20 minutes. The more time they spend stalling, the less time we have to talk.
Tip: You can try using these Bedtime Conversation Cards, too, to get the conversation at bedtime started (and ended in a timely fashion)! The kids love to use these cards. Check out #6 for more detail. 🙂
6. Bedtime Questions
Give your child something to think about OTHER than sleep. These Bedtime Conversation Card do the trick! They work for every age (we even use them at the dinner table and in the car, but they are perfect for bedtime.)
By asking one of these bedtime questions before bed, it helps to put their minds on something other than sleep.
7. Consider setting up the room with a nightlight and a meditation story CD
If your kids are still struggling with going to bed, consider playing a meditation CD so that they can fall asleep too.
This particular CD worked wonders for our son. He stopped thinking about whatever was on his mind and started listening to the relaxing stories instead.
Soft music could also work, but be aware that some children are actually stimulated by music.
The age at which children become aware of the dark varies. For some children, it won’t become an issue, but for others, sleep separation anxiety is more prominent in the dark. The best way to combat this is to start when children are newborns and use little to no light in their rooms.
However, if your child becomes afraid of the dark and has trouble falling asleep it is perfectly alright to introduce them to the magic of the nightlight. This one is adorable. (It stays lit for 12 hours and they can hold it – it doesn’t have a wire attached while it’s on.)
8. Give them something to look forward to in the morning.
You would be amazed at how something such as discussing the next day’s activities can allow them to wind down.
I am constantly having to tell my kids things like, “you can have (insert item) again in the morning.
Another powerful statement is “you need ___.” For example, “you need to rest so your body will grow strong.”
9. Stand Firm at Bedtime.
It is a weird conundrum that the more tired kids get, the worse they sleep. You would think that tuckered-out kids would fall asleep quickly, but that’s the opposite of the truth.
I mean just imagine how hard it is for us to fall asleep when we are overly exhausted sometimes.
10. Make sure their bedroom is comfortable enough for them so they want to stay there all night long.
YOU are the expert on your child. Do they sleep hot or cold?? Humidifier? Do they sleep better with white noise? This white noise machine is also a night light & it lets the child know their bedtimes and wake-up times – especially if they are waking too early– by the changing color.
Our children usually have the same preferences that we do, but it’s up to us to be aware.
11. Encourage good sleep hygiene by practicing it yourself too!
After reading this… it became a new favorite phrase, “sleep hygiene!”
Put simply, you must remember that children look up to us (although I really don’t know why). It is going to send mixed signals if we tell them no screen time, yet we scroll away on Facebook on our phones at night. Plus, we need to set the example of not using blue light in the late evenings, period.
Following your own consistent bedtime routine that closely resembles the routine set for your children can help you bond with them, create consistency, and give you a better night’s rest too!
12. Set an earlier bedtime for younger kids and work up from there
In order to find the perfect window between sleepy and overtired, you might have to spend a few nights playing around with the set bedtime. Your child needs to get enough hours of sleep every night, so try experimenting with the child’s bedtime to find the perfect time for your child.
To begin, it’s a good idea to put your child to bed at 7:00 pm and go up or down by 15 minutes each night until you find the optimal window.
Check out the post about why we put our kids to bed early when they were younger. It was a game-changer in the way our child sleeps now.
13. Let them choose their pajamas
When they get to pick out their own pajamas, or their own sheets, or pick out their stuffed animals at night, it makes bedtime easier. It’s more exciting for them if they get to pick out what they wear to sleep in that night. These choices are those little steps that can add up to a great bedtime experience.
Toddlers especially love having choices, it makes them feel “older.”
14. It’s Ok To Be Flexible… in time.
Once your child has proven that they respect the bedtime rules, you can begin to show flexibility, like this parent who told us, “My teen occasionally asks for an extra 30minutes which isn’t an issue for me. I’m pretty easy-going as long as they get to school and chores done and are not grumpy from being overtired.”
In the words of a popular animated film, “bedtime is not a democracy.”
Sometimes bedtime can be tough for everyone involved. But by creating healthy bedtime habits and routines that work for your family, it may just become easier to get kids into their beds at night.
Tip: Save flexibility for when your child goes to bed and stays in bed. If they are not staying in bed, read this post: How to get kids to stay in bed at bedtime.
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