There is nothing more frustrating than a child who won’t go to sleep. You’ve had a really long day and all you want is for them to fall asleep so you can carry on with your evening, and enjoy some precious me time. However they have other ideas. Instead you’re battling bathtime and when you’ve finally settled them into bed you hear that dreaded floorboard creak for the 10th time. Argh! Just like that your evening has disappeared and you’re having to sit with your child for the next hour until they fall asleep.
I’ve been there, in fact I’m still there.
My daughter used to be a wonderful sleeper. She would go to bed, stay in bed and go to sleep. However more recently bedtime has been getting harder and harder. She now resists it. She’s so much more aware of what is going on and will do all that she can to try to delay her own bedtime. Which as a parent who works in the evening is really frustrating as I often end up working later and later to compensate for this long drawn out bedtime, or I’m not doing anything at all.
So over the past couple of months I’ve discovered some tricks to stop your child from delaying their bedtime. We are still battling bedtime, it’s my least favourite time of the day, but it’s getting easier. Here’s how…..
Stick to the same routine
Children need routine and since my daughter was six months old we have where possible stuck to the same routine. This is so she knows exactly what’s coming next and that it is time for bed. With the ongoing bedtime battles sticking to the same routine is so important for all of us, and our sanity.
I found that giving my daughter a choice makes it easier, as it means that she is asserting independence. I offer her the choice of two books to read, and never offer the entire bookcase to choose from otherwise we’ll be there for hours. I also ask her to pick out her pyjamas. She likes doing it, plus it puts her back in control before I control her bedtime.
It’s easy for tempers to fray particularly if your child is refusing to go bed, or you’ve been back upstairs for the 100th time that evening. Whatever it is try and remain calm, and never go head to head with them, which can be really easy to do. I’m so used to having a bedtime battle that I kind of go a bit monotone with her. I stop all conversation, so that she clearly sees this is bedtime rather than a social occasion.
Offer comfort and promises
One of the things my daughter now asks for is that I stay in the room with her whilst she falls asleep. I find this really annoying as I’m usually starving, need to sort dinner and have a million other things to do. To get round this I stay with her for five minutes and then leave. I then tell her that I’ll be back in five minutes, and usually she’s asleep by the time I would have to go back up. If she gets up I’ll go and sit with her for another five minutes. It’s boring, but it usually means that she goes to sleep quicker than if I leave the room straight away.
Start bedtime earlier
I find that starting bedtime later just adds to the entire process. My daughter would get more and more tired, and be even less receptive to wanting to go to bed. When we start bedtime earlier it usually means that the long drawn out of process of going to bed finishes when bedtime used to finish. This also gives you more time for your child to brush their dolls hair and teeth, and put them to bed as well, if this is what they like to do.
So those are just some of the things that I’m doing to stop our daughter from delaying bedtime. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. I’ve learned to try and not get stressed by it all.
Also I’m not a sleep expert and if you’re experiencing the same thing, please take these points with a pinch of salt as they may not be right or work for you and your child.
Does your child love to delay their bedtime too?