Let’s admit it parents. One of the challenges of being a parent, aside from making them eat veggies and keeping them still when in public places, is making our kids sleep EARLY. I must say, it was a challenge for me. My kids used to sleep at 10 or 11pm when they were younger, although they wake up late the following morning. For a mom like me who juggles online work and chores, I need a quiet evening to get things done – and at peace. Nighttime is where the husband and I also get to talk about what happened in our days or watch a movie while enjoying a glass (or two) of wine.
It started when my eldest daughter started going to school. Her school starts at 9:30 a.m., but with the preparation involved, she has to be up by 7 a.m. When she started Kinder in big school, class starts at 7:30 a.m., which means I have to wake her up by 5:30 a.m. or earlier and leave before 6:30 a.m. because of traffic. My youngest was a bit more challenging when it comes to waking up in the morning. Her school starts at 9 in the morning and there are times when she wakes up at 8 – giving us only 30 minutes to prepare.
I don’t really like hassle and rushing in the morning, so I made sure that my kids sleep at 8 p.m., or at least before nine. How did I do it?
Tip No. 1: Limit afternoon naps to 30 minutes.
I want my kids to sleep in the afternoon for as long as they can so I can get things done. Unfortunately, this could be a recipe for disaster at night because my kids sleep late; thus disrupting the sleep schedule I established. What I do is to limit their afternoon naps to 30 minutes, or at least maximum of one hour. This is enough to help them recharge for the rest of the day.
Tip No. 2: Play and work all day.
My kids are very active. SUPER. They have excess energy, which they need to channel on other activities. Apart from school, my kids have other activities too, like ballet and reading classes. During off days (or days when they don’t have classes), the kids and I usually play either with their toys or in the garage. I also make them help me do chores like fixing their toys or sweeping the floor. The more active they are during the day, the easier for me to make them sleep at night. Tip No. 3: Avoid screen time at night.
It turns out that screen time, especially at night, has negative impact on kids’ sleeping patterns. The bright light emanating from the screen could boost alertness on kids; thereby keeping them awake. Using devices could also cause delay during bedtime, which could lead to shorter sleeping time.
What I do is I don’t let my kids use their phone before dinner time. We have no-gadgets rule during dinner time as well to limit their screen time, which includes TV at night as well. By the time they are done with their dinner, we proceed immediately to their bedtime routine.
Tip No. 4: Prepare dinner early.
I prepare dinner by 4:30 p.m. and eat by 6 p.m. We’re done by seven, which is their cue to go up, get a few minutes of rest, and prepare for nighttime bath. This is my secret to getting my kids sleep early even during weekends and it’s been effective since.
Tip No. 5: Follow a bedtime routine.
Just like adults, kids need to wind down first before going to sleep. This routine also serves as their cue that it’s time for bed.
What’s in their routine? I give them a warm bath, tuck them in bed, and read them a story. Night lamp is also essential, so once I open the lamp, they know it’s time for bed. This bedtime routine worked for us and they associated these steps with bedtime already.
Tip No. 6: Sleep beside them.
Well, at least until they fall asleep. I tried leaving them in their room and just let them fall asleep on their own but unfortunately, it didn’t work. I could hear them giggling and telling stories instead of closing their eyes and trying their best to sleep. What I did was to stay with them until they fall asleep. It happens in a matter of minutes only, plus I consider this us our cuddling-slash-lambing time while I still can do it with them.
How about you, mommas? What do you do to make your kids sleep early?
Ayi is a stay-at-home mom of two. When her kids are in their best state, she keeps up with chores, work, and ensuring that her sanity is intact. Join her as she navigates through this rollercoaster ride called motherhood.