Bedtime historically isn’t my favourite part of the day – by that point I’m usually knackered and ready for some kid free time. I’ve come up with a few ‘rules’ we follow that have helped us keep it relatively stress – free and quick (except during those weeks when we had to transition Sonny from co-sleeping to his own crib – cripes!), some of which may surprise you. Here they are….
1. Don’t Have A Set Bedtime
Instead, follow your childrens’ lead and watch for their signals. Sometimes Jack just doesn’t seem tired so I’m happy for him to stay downstairs a little longer until 9pm whereas other evenings by 7pm he’s exhausted and short-tempered and I know he needs bed. Other times, Jack will just play and hang out in his room and get himself into bed when he’s tired. I’ve written before about being a zero routine family and I really feel forcing children to sleep when they might not be tired isn’t right – we’re not machines who do things at the same time every day.
2. Press Play and Leave
Once they’re tucked in and all is calm, just before I go out the room I switch on an audio story. We love the Moshi Twilight Sleep Stories app which is the perfect combination of a story and relaxing music. Each story is set in the magical world of Moshi and is actually very reminiscent of a guided meditation. It makes me super sleepy listening to it (especially when slumped on the stairs outside their room once they do go to sleep). I lock the phone so there’s no ambient ‘blue’ light it the room but generally I’ll just hide the phone behind a pile of clothes. The kids always fall asleep pretty quickly, or at least stay quiet listening and drift off when they’re ready. The audio also gently slows down in rhythm as the stories progress, which is a cool feature. There is new content added to the app every week so there’s always a new story for the kids to listen to. This app has been key in keeping them calm and allowing them to fall asleep naturally, as well as in allowing Sam and I to have some kid -free time in the evenings.
3. Keep It Varied (and Fun)
One of my favourite things to do with the kids is to give them dinner in the bath. Not only does it minimise tidying up downstairs too, it avoids us falling into a routine that becomes monotonous and boring for me and for them. Sometimes I’ll get in the bath with the kids, sometimes we’ll have a picnic dinner in the park, other times we’ll have dessert in bed. Mix it up and have fun with it – it’s actually quite a large chunk of your time with your kids!
4. Fill Their Bellies
I know heavy dinners are not encouraged but personally, I try to make sure the kids eat a large dinner with carbs and protein last thing at night. This lasagne is one of our fave dinners for that very reason. I also avoid anything sweet or sugary – dessert, if they have it, is fruit and full fat yoghurt.
5. Limit Storytime
Perhaps controversially, I’m not a big story book reader. I enjoy so many aspects of motherhood but reading with the kids is not really one of them. I sometimes read one story but more often than not they don’t get a story at bedtime which radically reduces how long ‘bedtime’ takes. I simply tuck them in and give them a big sloppy kiss and tell them about all the fun we’ll have the next day. I also find at night that the kids will want to read more and more books just to put off going to sleep which I’m not falling for… Now we read a bedtime story and when they ask for more, I pop on the Moshi Twilight Sleep Stories app and it does the rest of the work for me.
What nightly routines do you have? Any tips you can share?
(This post is sponsored by Moshi Twilight Sleep Stories app, the audio sleep stories app for kids, and who we are big fans of. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Mamalina)