1. A bed is for sleeping- Breaking news, I know. What I mean is that I never punished the children by going to their room or to their bed. I want them to associate their room with positive feelings. A bed is not a place you go to when you are punished.
2. Sleeping makes you grow- My children need to understand everything. They understand why physiologically human beings and animals need to sleep. They know it is not a punishment or a way for me to get rid of them at the end of the day (the last one is a lie but they haven’t picked up on it yet).
3. Don’t sleep if you are not tired- I never force the kids to sleep. When I hear “but I am not tired”, I always tell them that it is okay, they don’t have to sleep, they can talk to their cuddly toys for a little while but they have to stay in their bed and be quiet until it is time to get up again. It saves myself from an argument no one will win, takes the pressure off them and they usually fall asleep very quickly.
4. Routine- This should have been number one. Everyday they go to bed at the same time, wake up at the same time and nap at the same time. Their little bodies are adjusted to this and are naturally tired when it is bed time, and I never have to wake them up in the morning.
5. No routine- Trust me, it will make sense. We have a bed time routine, but story time is always different. Sometimes it is just reading a story, sometimes it is having a long chat about the day, or making their cuddly toys speak. Whatever it is, they decide and it is always fun. Has to be our favourite time of the day.
6. The more they nap, the more they sleep- I have always found that to be true with my children. If they missed a nap, they would struggle to fall asleep in the evening. And a couple of years ago I found out that this was scientifically proven! Missing a nap or pushing back bed time in the hope they will sleep longer or better does not work as it teaches kids to fight sleepiness. If they are getting into the habit of fighting sleep, it is going to make them go to sleep much harder in the long run.
Bedtime is time spent with your children. Enjoy the ride, don’t rush it. And appreciate the lovely feeling you have when you shut the last bedroom door.