by Ivy Locke
As a single mom everything is a bit harder. It’s no secret, most kids hate to go to bed. No matter if they are wide awake or have been up and running around all day and seem to be all tuckered out, they almost never just settle down and go directly to sleep. Nevertheless, there are times in which they need to. Being a child is hard work and receiving adequate rest is a must for a young, developing mind and body. Moreover, our sleep patterns as children are largely the sleep patterns we end up sticking with as adults. Moreover, bedtime struggles are often magnified when you are a single mother. While your kids certainly think of you as superwoman, they may or may not respect mommy’s position as an authoritarian. In addition to that, having two parents in the household can make it easier to put children to sleep as one parent can be the primary and the other can serve as reinforcement. Therefore, if you allow your children to have unhealthy sleeping habits now, they will likely carry on well into adulthood. We can’t have that! The following is an overview of some excellent tips to help you get your kids to bed on time.
In addition to the fact that bathing is a highly soothing action that promotes relaxation and helps them become settled, studies have shown that having a night routine, in general, is one of the best ways to get your kids to bed in a timely fashion. This is due to the fact that as humans, we are all subject to becoming comfortable with routine. By teaching your kids to get to bed on time and to always get enough rest early in life, you are setting them up for a lifelong of positive sleeping habits.
Cool Night Lights/ Sound Machines
For those of us who like to try things that are a bit more unconventional, buying your kids a fancy nightlight can be a great way to get them to sleep on time. For instance, there are some night lights displays that project pictures of stars and constellations and some even provide narration, so your kids can explore space as they drift off into dream world. There are also light displays that play nature sounds, soothing music, and much more. On the flip side, there are also radios and other sound machines that can allow your child to listen to soothing sounds and/or music as they drift off to sleep. A great way to distract your kids as they meet Mr. Sandman, purchase a night light that is in line with your child’s interests and they may actually begin to get excited for bed time (a mom can dream, can’t she?).
Bed Time Stories (The Longer, The Better)
For those who prefer a more old school method of getting their kids to sleep, the bedtime story is tried, tested, and true. By completing other nighttime rituals (i.e. bathing, meditation or saying prayer, etc.) before your child gets into bed, they will be feeling settled by the time their head hits the pillow. By reading them a nice, long story in a low, calming voice, most kids will begin to drift off just as the story starts to get good. However, try to select longer stories as reading a selection of stories back-to-back can be exciting to some kids, which defeats the purpose.
Although it may be a bit controversial, co-sleeping is an excellent way to address issues with your child getting to sleep on time. Although it can get a bit unhealthy as your kids begin to age, co-sleeping is perfectly acceptable for infants and toddlers. In fact, studies have shown that co-sleeping is the best way to promote a strong bond between the parent and child, helps to build confidence in the child, and, of course, helps them learn to get to sleep on time. Even with slightly older kids, it is just fine to allow them to occasionally sleep with you if they are not feeling well or simply had a bad day. However, as they grow into pre-teens and adolescence, it is imperative to make sure that your child is comfortable and capable of getting to sleep alone.
Allowance and Other Incentives
If all else fails, there’s always bribery. Although it is clearly not your first, or even second option, there is an array of possible ways to bribe your child into going to sleep on time. For instance, if you include going to sleep on time as a part of their chores and offer to give them a few more (or less) dollars a week for their compliance, your child will get used to the sleep routine in no time, and you can eventually remove “bed time” from the chore list and focus on other things. On the flip side, for children who are a bit younger (but still old enough to grasp simple concepts) you can offer them candy or to take them on outings every couple of weeks as a reward for being obedient. Although it might not seem like much, saying something like, “OK, if you don’t get to bed soon, we won’t be going to the amusement park next week” holds much more weight than, “you really need to get to sleep if you want to be healthy and strong”.
Overall, getting your kids to sleep doesn’t have to be a knock down drag out fight. Kids are (odd little) people too. Therefore, the same way it takes adults some time to get settled and drift off to sleep at night, it will also take most children some time as well. By implementing nightly routines, finding things to keep them occupied, playing music, and more, you can create an environment in which sleep is welcomed rather than avoided. Just remember, every child is different and just because something works for someone else’s child, doesn’t mean it will work for yours. In other words, if you have given a remedy a reasonable trial period (at least a couple of weeks) and see no results, move on to something else until you have found the best bedtime behaviors for you and your child.