LIGHTS OUT, PEOPLE, UMM, KIDS!
Does your child leave their room at bedtime? Are they calling for you instead of sleeping? Is your child spending more time fighting with you than resting? Are you beginning to hallucinate? Slowly losing it from the exhaustion? Are you truly considering moving to Hawaii and opening a Mai Tai stand? Yes, I hear ya. Kids and sleep, they don’t mesh. It’s like they have the biggest FOMO ever. Like what are they missing? You binge watching Tiny House Hunters AGAIN? Y’all doing dishes? What kinda party do they think in happening outside of their door???????
So I’m about to break it down for ya. I’m also going to get you some much needed rest. Let’s start with the tough stuff. Here is the truth and it might sting a little. You cannot actually make someone sleep, as in go to sleep, bed YES, to their room, sure, sleep NO. On a side note, if you HAVE figured out how to get another person to drift of to LaLa Land please hit me and a few folks that I know up ‘cause we would love for you to swing by our houses at night and do the same for us as well. See, sleep is illusive. It’s the thing that you can do easily do at 3PM but when it is bedtime, all of a sudden our minds are like, nope, nope, none for you. For us big folks it’s stress and worry and that things that we did or didn’t do in the 8th grade that keeps us up. For kids, it’s fear of missing something or that power struggle that they seem to love to engage in so very, very much. Time to shake things up. Instead of the goal being a slumbering child, make the goal a child that stays in their room and hopefully in their bed. If your kid is in bed, even if they are reading or singing to themselves or talking to themselves (you hope it is themselves cause you KNOW kids might be able to see ghosts ’n’ stuff, shutter), they are waaaayyyy closer to sleeping than if they’re fighting with you for an hour or more. At least if they are in bed chilling, they are resting and you have that much needed “You Time” AKA binge watching with wine time, or maybe catching up on some work time but hopefully binge watching with wine time.
This plan starts before bedtime. It actually starts during the day. Find a time to have a little chat with your child. This is a positive chat so take a deep breath before you go in;
“I know that sometimes you’re not ready to sleep, but when it is time to go to your room, it is time to go to your room. You can listen to an audiobook or read if you like, but you need to stay in your room unless you have to go potty. If you are up too late reading then bedtime will be earlier so that you can have enough time to wind down but still get enough sleep.” Trust me, if your kid throws up or has a horrible nightmare they will come on out to let you know. You will not miss a thing.
I’m gonna be honest cause as you know, I always am, this will NOT begin well. Your kid will scream. Your kid will cry. Your kid will come up with 1,000,000,000,000,000 excuses why they need to be up or with you. THEY. ARE. FINE. You can ask them what they need, what will make it easier. During your bedtime talk is a good time to ask these kinds of questions. Maybe a picture of you, maybe a t-shirt of yours, maybe a flashlight will make bedtime better. Be clear YOU are not on the table. They need to stay in their room and figure out how they can make that happen. You will need to be strong. You know they are safe and really, so do they. As long as they are not going to throw up, you know what I mean, let ‘em cry. These are bigger kids. They have their lovey, they have books, they can turn on lights….. If it gets too much you can go in, have them take a deep breath, give a kiss and walk out. Don’t go through the whole nighttime routine again cause that will only prolong the pain of bedtime and who wants that? NO PARENT EVER.
Once the power struggles are left in the dust you will be surprised at just how quickly your child will end up falling asleep. Look, sleep is really important. It’s important for us and it’s equally important for kids. Kids who don’t sleep enough have trouble focusing in school, have behavioral issues, are easily frustrated and upset. They also need more sleep than you might think, even those big ones need about 10-11 hours. We ALLLLLL need sleep and getting kids to slumber can be a rough endeavor. Parenting isn’t easy, I don’t have to tell YOU that. Keep in mind that it’s not your job to keep your kids happy all of the time. It’s your job to keep them safe and healthy. Many times happy and safe/healthy do not go hand in hand. Kids need sleep to be healthy, so power through. You got this!!! Stand strong and you will have kids who are equipped with a nighttime plan that will will help EVERYONE get the rest that they need. Sweet Dreams.