Will We Ever Sleep Again?

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Are you a parent struggling to get your child to sleep in his or her room every night all night?  Do you feel like you are never going to have a good night’s sleep? Are you ready to call Super Nanny? Do you keep a bottle of wine stashed away in your closet to cope with the cries and tears?  If you answered “yes” to any of those questions read the rest of this post!

As a dad to 4 little boogers I can say that I used to think that the day would never come to where my house would be a quiet house during the night. It will come eventually but you have to stay in control. Easier said than done, right?  Wrong!  I don’t claim to have all the answers and definitely don’t claim to be an expert in the sleep field, but I’ve had my share of the good, the bad and the snoozy when it comes to managing our family’s sleep pattern.  Here are three tips I’m going to give you that I have learned from my almost 10 years of parenting.  I hope that they are helpful and give you ideas that you may not have thought about before.  The bottom line is to remember why you are teaching your child the right way to fall asleep.  It’s for their own health, safety and mental well-being. Whatever routine you choose, don’t sway from it and don’t give in. It’s hard, my friend! But after all we are parents and it’s our role to instill this very important skill into our child. Good luck!

Create a Routine and Stick With It!

We humans are, by nature, creatures of habit.  Our babies, toddlers and elementary school-aged kids are too.  We have a nightly schedule that we try to adhere to with our gang, but as with any family things come up that get in the way of sticking to the schedule from A to Z every night – DON’T STRESS ABOUT THAT!  We also have to teach our children to be able to cope with things as they come up and be able to adjust.  If we refuse to allow any variety in their lives then we are holding them back from experiencing life to its fullest.

Our routine is:  Dinner, homework, bath, brush teeth then in bed between 8 and 8:30. Does this work every night?  Hell no!  Don’t punish your kids if they don’t adhere to the schedule at all times. The goal is not to turn them into a scene from “Groundhog Day.”  Throw in a grumpy kid, dinner out with family, Xbox, TV, unexpected errands, ballet, basketball and the list goes on – chances are you are going to have to occasionally adjust the schedule.  Change is good, but the important thing is to teach your kids how to manage the time they get to complete tasks and to learn what comes next. Eventually, your kids will come to expect the usual nightly events and go to bed on time. This doesn’t mean they won’t fight the routine. Trust me, they WILL!

Kids Sleeping Space vs Mommy and Daddy Sleeping Space

It’s important to teach our kids that there are boundaries in all aspects of life.  The marital bed is no exception. Whenever a child asks to sleep in mommy and daddy’s bed we tell them that they sleep in their room and mommy and daddy sleep mommy and daddy’s room.  It’s very easy to cave in the middle of a work and school night and allow your child to sleep in the same bed, but that’s how good habits are broken and not-so-good habits are formed.  Establish boundaries early and often, and explain to your kids why you are establishing the boundaries. Tell them in a way that they will understand.

Encourage, Don’t Scold!

Children need to be encouraged when they are trying something new.   Not all will grasp the concept the first time around. That’s okay!  We all learn differently and on our own time.  The same goes for learning a new sleep habit.  We can’t expect an adult – let alone a child – to learn a new habit on the first try.  It will take time! Be patient, positive and encouraging. Encouraging your child with positive reinforcement rather than going the screaming and scolding route will work wonders. Besides, why are you screaming and losing control when you are trying to teach your child that bed time is a time when we are all quiet and settling in for the night?  Model the behavior you want your child to learn.

What have you tried in your house that has worked?  Post it here in the comments and let’s share ideas!

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