I love to sleep. That moment when my head hits the pillow and I know my day is done. I can just let go of those worrisome thoughts and turn off my brain. For a full 5 min. Because then I remember everything I forgot that day or some little person wakes up and needs a drink of water but really need to go the bathroom. We had a horrible stretch with Bear where he thought it was fun to stay up from 12am-4am talking about why the sun wasn’t up. I learned fast that kids need sleep as much as adults. And adults need kids to sleep unless they have a great coffee supplier.
Here are a few of my go to tips that I picked up from not sleeping for a month or two:
Set the schedule and let them know: Kids need a schedule. There’s a bunch of science behind it. But the structure if a huge thing for those little growing brains. We stick to the same routine every night as best we can. Dinner, tubby, two short shows, songs/stories and sleep. The best part is Bear isn’t worried about time yet so after a long day when I can tell a melt down is starting, i can just start early. He knows the schedule and is expecting to end up in bed.So how do you teach a little one that 4am is not an ok time to wake up? I used the “Ok to wake” clock. I was skeptical it first, but it worked the first night! It’s cute and easy to use and understand. Bear learned that when it was growing green (that’s right, no beeps or buzzing!!) it was an ok time to get out of bed. Give it a whirl!
Full bellies mean less waking up: For me, Bear would often wake up because he was hungry. He’s going to be tall. He’s grown 3 inches in 6 months. So he need to fuel his body. We learned early on the food is not a reward/punishment tool. If he’s hungry he can eat. Now that doesn’t mean I’m going to be a short order cook and 2am. It means he can have a filling snack before bed. We often offer him a filling whole grain bar. We used Fig bars for a few months, but then he magically decided he didn’t like them anymore. So we sometimes give him Cliff Bars. Think of something healthy and filling. Little bear still gets a bottle of whole milk at night. Fat and carbs will help them get through the night.
Comfort is key: Let’s think about an average kids day. Wake up with your family. Play with your friends. Hangout with a sitter or go to school with your class. They spend the whole day surrounded by other people. It’s really no wonder that at night time it might be a bit much to ask them to be in a dark room alone. Bear was so much better at sleeping once Little Bear joined him. But we also found that just letting him sleep in our room was a huge help during the transition time.
Reward chart: If all else fails, bribe them. Really. Offer them a prize for sleeping in their bed of one night. Make it simple but fun. Sleep in your bed for one night and you can have a treat in the morning. Or a little toy. They can see instant gratification. Then pull out the sleep chart. Oh you like the small prize? Well sleep in your bed for a whole week and we can go to ____! Try to keep in a fun family event. Kids want attention more than toys. Plus it may help set them up to understand material things aren’t as important as spending time with people you care about.Down load here: sleepchart