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One of the funniest comedy bits I have heard is Jim Gaffigan on bedtime. As a father of 5, he says,
“Bedtime is a crisis. It’s like a hostage negotiation… but in reverse. I will meet your demands… just stay in there!”
Like most parents, we are tired by 8:00 pm and we want the children to go. to. sleep. But most of the time my children, like Jim’s, act as if sleep is a surprise every single evening. They are wound up and ready with all of the needs. So whatever tricks I can find to help my kids settle – I am here for it.
My oldest son, Noah, is especially sensitive to his environment. He has a lot of sensory processing issues, so if the environment is not in the right condition (temperature, covers, noises, the feel of his pajamas, if he eats ice cream or chocolate, etc.), then he will be up for hours.
All that to say, we have had to get creative when it comes to bedtime so that Ryan and I can have some wind down time ourselves and I can eat all the chocolate I didn’t let Noah have! 😉 Today I am sharing with you 5 simple ways we have found to be successful in helping our kids get calm and ready for bed.
The first important way to help kids settle for bed is to make sure they are getting plenty of outdoor time BEFORE the bedtime routine begins. After a long day of sitting at school and in the car, I feel it is my job to protect our kids’ need for physical exercise so that they are TIRED at bedtime. We will often make it mandatory that our boys run around in the backyard as soon as we get home because heavy work associated with outdoor play is so critical to healthy sleep habits. In addition, research shows that melatonin levels naturally rise in the evenings for people who have spent time outside during the day.
*NOTE* – Research has also shown that the light from screens can interfere with the body’s production of melatonin, so we do not allow screen time during the school week or during the hours leading up to bed.
We like to joke that Noah has a super power and that super power is extreme hearing. Ryan and I will be whispering to one another in the kitchen and he will hear every word from his bedroom on the other side of the house. This extreme hearing gets Noah into trouble at bedtime because his brain just cannot shut down. After doing some research before Zion was born, I decided to sleep train him with a white noise machine. We ended up buying two machines, one for the nursery and one for Noah and Jet’s room since Noah had started to have problems sleeping in a room with a bunkmate who sometimes snores. We also got an oscillating fan as an additional way to mask any sounds that might interrupt the boys’ sleep. It has helped us so much!
We like to give our boys “Sandwiches” – where we lay the top half of our bodies over theirs and put our weight on them. This deep pressure provides healthy sensory input and the release of the hormone oxytocin that has a calming effect on the body. Also, both of our boys love a good snuggle or back tickle before bed. I will often sit beside them and lightly run my fingernails up and down their bare backs. Sometimes we will play spelling games where I spell letters one at a time and they have to guess what I wrote. Finally, one of the best items I put in Jethro’s Christmas stocking last year was a scalp massager. He begs me to use it on him every night to help him get ready to sleep.
Routines are one of the most effective ways to prepare the brain for sleep. Since our boys were babies, we have tried to follow the routine of bath (warm water is a proven muscle relaxer), books (see below for some great suggestions), and then bed. We also share a Bible story, Jesus Kisses, prayers and blessings, and a special lullaby that my mom sang to me when I was little. Sometimes I am so tired that I try to escape before singing or giving a Jesus Kiss, but the boys never forget and they refuse to sleep until the entire routine is completed. And, to be honest, the nights I have stayed to speak extra prayers and Bible verses over my children are the nights they have the most peace for sleep!
I absolutely LOVE reading funny, interactive books like The Book with No Pictures and Don’t Push the Button, but sometimes those books can get my kiddos worked up instead of ready for bed. Today I am sharing with you one of my newest favorite calming books for bedtime – Good Night, Little Blue Truck.
Our family has always been a fan of the Little Blue Truck series and this latest book is no exception. A storm is brewing and Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are hurrying home for bed. But with all the racket from the thunder, it’s not long before other friends show up seeking safety from the storm. In typical Little Blue fashion, he kindly welcomes everyone inside. When the clouds roll on and the sky is clear, then it is time for a bedtime ride and everyone Beep Beeps to sleep.
This sweet book not only addresses going to sleep, but it touches on themes like what to do when you are afraid, the kindness of others, and how it’s easier to be brave when everyone is together. I know your family will love it!
^^Do they look calm to you?🤔^^
Today I am giving away a copy of GOOD NIGHT LITTLE BLUE TRUCK and a Little Tikes racing tire toy chest to one lucky reader
Simply leave a comment below telling me your child’s favorite thing to do at bedtime.
Giveaway open to US addresses only. Prizing and samples provided by HMH Books for Young Readers. Giveaway will close at 11:59 pm on friday, november 15, 2019. winner will be notified by email.
I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!