As the clock ticks past 6:30pm and the witching hours are well and truly under way, I find myself secretly wishing to be able to just bury my nose in a good book and lay flat on the couch. In other words I’d like to do anything that is essentially ignoring the mammoth task ahead. The same mammoth task that parents face each night – going through the bedtime routine. I know it has to be done and I should be used to it by now, but something about it grates on my nerves each and every night. By the end of July this year my 3 year old had totally dropped her nap and my 18-month old was starting to go through a major sleep regression phase (very similar to what both my girls have done at 4mths, 10mths and 18mths). We had veered off-track with our routine! I concede that I was also to blame with my love of Master Chef starting to creep in and distract the girls from their task at hand. We were finding that if we gave the girls an inch they were taking the whole ruler. It was time for a redesign!
Each time we have gone through a “sleep regression”, we redesigned the bed time routine. This time, we needed to work out how to get both girls in bed at the same time. Up until then, my youngest was going to bed 30 mins before my oldest. Some things I factor in when deciding when and how to redesign the bedtime routine.
1 – What settling techniques are the girls no longer enjoying or responding to? This helps iron out where the routine is coming unstuck. For example, singing lullabies to my youngest had been working but then she was no longer interested. She had started trying to wiggle and see what else was going on in the other room. I could tell she wanted to be part of the evening stories that my husband was reading with my oldest. I figured the days of crooning “Silvery Moon” to my bubba were nearly over and she wanted a joint routine with her sister.
2 – What grates on my nerves the most and I’ve started getting lazy about? I was getting pretty tired of running two routines. It was time to combine!
3 – What settling techniques do we enjoy with the girls (remembering that we have to do it too)? We love doing our yoga poses at so many times during the day to “reset” the girls. However, I wasn’t keen on starting up a long yoga routine just before bed. Maybe just a few poses would be good. Therefore, using these yoga cards is great because we can choose how many poses we are going to do. I bought this yoga bedtime pack (book + cards) by Yoga Stories. I am not affiliated with them just LOVE Giselle’s blog, routines and books. Her hubby is from Australia and hence why you see her Aussie themed books too and her in-laws stock some of her products here in Sydney. You will see me use these cards in my toddler Play with Food classes during either our “prepare to eat” routine OR as an activity at the end of class once we have had our “clean-up” time routine. They are PERFECT for ensuring a smooth transition in and out of the meal.
4 – What times work for the family? Our bedtime routine starts after we have finished the dinner dishes at about 7pm. That works well for us. I ultimately wanted to get the whole routine done within 30 minutes.
5 – What items are non-negotiable and need to stay? Cleaning teeth is non-negotiable for us. You may have others too.
Interestingly enough my August Pinterest challenge was by the Inspired Tree House and all about teddy bear playtime as part of the bedtime routine. This was perfect for me and my need to redesign the bedtime routine to suit both girls simultaneously. I love that we include some key elements in our new bedtime routing that I also include in the Play with Food “prepare to eat” routines. It makes me realise how important preparing children for any task really is and how important engaging the body is.
We instigate our new routine each night and both girls pretty much run to clean their teeth so that they can get to do “teddy bear, teddy bear” time with us. We all get a teddy and run through a few gross motor moves and some yoga poses before winding down by rocking our teddy bears to a song or two. We then read a story and my youngest goes to her bed. My oldest gets one more book before she goes to sleep. It has helped my mood leading up to bedtimes as they usually don’t drag on longer than 30 minutes anymore (depending on the length of the book my oldest chooses – it’s getting a bit full-on how much she likes to read in one sitting now.)
Do you love or loath bedtime in your house? Do you have a routine? Or do you have one of those kids who just takes themselves to bed and you barely have to lift a finger (or murmur an instructional word)?
If you are interested in learning more about Play with Food routines to help you have happy mealtimes check out our upcoming eCourse. The content is designed for you to implement in your home environment as you pick and choose what works for you.