Wait…this is a myth right??
What kid loves bedtime?? Aren’t they right there alongside unicorns, mermaids, and an empty washing basket?
Doesn’t everyone have the hour after bedtime routine of needing water, toilet, and to suddenly remember the homework they hadn’t finished that’s due the next day?
Well… it’s not a myth!
I have two of them.
Well, one of them doesn’t LOVE going to bed, though she rarely fights it.
The other one? An almost two-year-old who gets excited when I ask her if it’s time for bed and she runs to her room grabbing toys as she goes to add to her bed as she attempts to climb the rails…
Though I’m not here to brag. Believe me, I’m not.
We certainly have days that are harder than most, though I can pinpoint pretty accurately what went wrong for us and I’m hoping that this will give you some insights into what to rule out next time you brace yourself for bed time.
A full calendar
When our weeks are super-dooper packed, when there are a few extra events on plus the usual commitments of school, daycare, work, etc. I find my kids are overtired.
You’d think that by making them overtired will help, but it does the exact opposite!
Just yesterday, a Sunday, usually a reasonably busy day attending a morning and evening church service – just coz we enjoy them.
In the evening service, my two-year-old was literally running rings around everyone. Which is fine, it’s a casual service and she’s pretty cute so easy to get away with it.
Afterwards, multiple people said “she’ll sleep well tonight!”.
Though in my heart of hearts, I knew it was going to be a rough night.
Why? Because she only had a one-hour nap that day.
One-hour compared to her usual 2-3-hour nap.
Naturally, she was overtired, over stimulated, and over everything.
These days, before I commit to another event, I check to make sure we have enough down time, so she doesn’t get overtired. Let me tell you, a happy, rested child makes it worth the effort of declining social invitations and leaving blank spaces throughout the week.
Lack of family time
This is a big one, especially for my eldest.
While she would love to stay up playing games and watching movies, this makes or breaks whether bedtime is enjoyable and quick as opposed to excruciating and never-ending.
Why is this such a big deal?
Well consider this. When we sleep, we are vulnerable. Do we like feeling vulnerable?
Not really. Not at all. It’s uncomfortable and down-right scary.
That is, when we don’t already feel safe and loved.
Kids feel secure when they feel connected to everyone else. It is damn near impossible to feel connected with people who are not there – literally and figuratively.
To fix this problem, introduce a special routine into your bed time routine.
For our eldest, we sit in the loungeroom (after miss two-year-old his hit the hay) and read Harry Potter (currently at Book #4!). The quicker she get’s ready for bed (without cutting corners of course), the more chapters we get to read together.
I’ll read out loud and make time for little discussions where she attempts to guess what is coming next, or joins the dots with what has already happened, or I check if she understands a word I just read.
Though sometimes we will play a game or 2 of Uno or Go Fish, or another game depending on how much time we have.
Then, together we say our prayers, sing a lullaby, and she heads to bed quietly without waking her sister (joys of sharing a room together!).
Last but certainly not least, for those who have a spouse – couple time
Since when does couple time affect the kids going to bed?
Very rarely, unless it’s a really toxic relationship, kids are scared of their parents splitting up.
They want to know that all is right with the two pivotal people in their lives, even if circumstances are less than ideal, they want to feel secure and safe.
How will they know that all is right in the lives of their most important people?
They need to see you both together – being affectionate.
I’m not talking about R+ rated affection, keep it G rated please!
What does this look like?
At the end of a long day apart, sit down with a cuppa and just chat. Show an interest in each other’s lives – while your kids are still awake.
Let them see you prioritise each other in your lives.
Take 6 seconds for a lingering hug, sneak a kiss in here and there, hold each other’s hands while in conversation.
When kids see this, they are filled with peace and comfort and most importantly security.
On the days where my husband and I are ships passing in the night, we have the most trouble getting our eldest to bed and to stay in bed.
The thing is, she is getting out of bed, knowing full well that we are spending time together, and she wants in. She wants that reassurance. She wants to see that the two people she loves, also love each other.
So, to save the hour of up and down after bedtime, we make sure to invest little moments of affection for each other, in front of our kids.
Especially when they get to the age where they say “ewww! Gross!!” Because then we know they have seen us, and we have filled that security tank before bedtime – so we get more quality couple time without interruptions.
Essentially - simplify life, increase connection, and boost intimacy
If this doesn’t help, seeking a professional Sleep Consultant is a great option to take up.
What can you change in your bedtime routine to make it more enjoyable? Share in the comments what a difference this has made to your family life!