Toddler bedtime can go from bad-to-worse. All it takes is a slight change in routine, excitement, or distraction on the parents part and bedtime can turn into an extended battle. Today, I’m sharing my tips on Dr Orlena Kerek’s blog on how to end toddler bedtime battles. These strategies are rooted in positive parenting. These parenting tips for toddlers also apply to older children too.
With the days getting longer and summer fast approaching, I’ve been lax about bedtime. When I pick up my kids from school, I pack a picnic and we head to the park spend the rest of the afternoon outside.
They ride their bikes, meet up with kids from school, and race through the sprays of the splash pad.
Because being outside is so good for them, we stay as long as they want.
By the time we get home, I putter around getting dinner on. We eat and the kids play until I look over at the clock shocked to see it’s already past bedtime.
I scramble to get them upstairs and through their bedtime routine.
That’s when bedtime starts to go south
Feeling like I’m running behind, I rush through getting the kids undressed and into their pyjamas. Because of the time, I tell them it’s too late for stories.
With a quick brush of their teeth, I usher them into their beds and wait. In no time, at least one kid becomes thirsty beyond all reason. Then usually both of my bigger kids are out of bed. It turns into an exasperating version of whack-a-mole. And in this process of trying to get all three kids to lie down, they start laughing uncontrollably and get revved up.
Two nights ago, our bedtime routine took over an hour. And I yelled. I actually yelled the words, “GO TO SLEEP NOW!” It wasn’t exactly my finest or most pragmatic parenting moment. But it was the moment I realized I needed to get back to our old bedtime routine and fast.
Toddler Bedtime Routine: How to end bedtime battles
Now, I’m calling this a toddler bedtime routine because that is when it becomes age appropriate. (Baby sleep is a different ball game.) However, these strategies are effective for toddlers and older kids as well. My kids are fifteen months, four-years-old, and six-years-old respectively and I am using variations of these strategies for each of them.
Good sleep starts with physical activity during the day.
When my brother attended a sleep clinic years ago, the doctor overseeing his care said, “A farmer falls asleep when his head hits the pillow.” Of course, there are no absolutes, but a child who has had a day where he can run and play is more likely to sleep well than a child who has been sedentary.