Right, stop the press. Prepare yourselves readers, I have an astonishing announcement to make. It may surprise you all to know that I am not a perfect parent. I know, I had you fooled didn’t I!
I can make this declaration safe in the knowledge that I have got many things wrong in my parenting journey, but rest assured my children have survived and come out the other side relatively unscathed but on a daily basis it does present some challenges.
One of my most recent and ongoing failings is the bedtime routine. I can’t take all the blame, as Dad has his fair share of imperfections and between us we’ve got it horribly wrong. It came as no surprise to me to read Family Friendly Working‘s post where 33% of parents find bedtime the most stressful of the daily routine.
Now faced with a brand new bed that’s unlikely to see any action this side of 2020, as it’s frequented by small people EVERY NIGHT let me breakdown for you where we went wrong so you can avoid the mistakes we made and stop this being the most daunting parenting task.
1. Don’t Feed A Baby To Sleep
Granted this is much easier said than done, but from about 6 weeks old don’t let your baby fall asleep at the boob or on the bottle. Stop feeding just before they look like they are drifting off so they learn to go to sleep without an aid.
2. Don’t Co-Sleep
If you have been reading my blog for a while, you will know I don’t have an issue with co-sleeping in the slightest. If this is your parenting choice, great but bare in mind the wider impact on your lifestyle and that once you go down this path, changing your mind is pretty tough and new habits are hard to form.
We tried to encourage Toddler that she would love going into her new bed in her own room when Baby arrived. It was a losing battle from the start!
3. Once in their own room, leave them there!
The earliest any baby should be migrated into their own room is at 6 months old. Once they make that move, don’t go all soft (like Daddy did) and move them back again.
4. Don’t Let Them Fall Asleep Anywhere But Their Bed/Cot
This can only go horribly wrong. Letting them fall asleep on the sofa and then migrating them to their bed firstly is a logistical nightmare. Who wouldn’t wake up being carried up the stairs unless they had had a few too many beers (which I’m not recommending by the way).
Secondly it only causes confusion and anxiety when said little person wakes up somewhere different than they fell asleep.
5. Don’t Overstimulate
When bedtime is on the horizon, start to dim the lights, turn of the TV and any other gadgets and even reduce the amount of eye contact and conversation with your little one. For the summer months, blackout blinds are a god send.
Too much stimulation and light can delay the act of going to sleep for quite sometime.
6. Don’t Let Them Get Too Tired
This is a recipe for complete meltdown. Start the bedtime routine in plenty of time so they are ready for sleeping when it’s finished. Leaving things to late can turn bedtime into battle time, which quickly becomes unpleasant for everyone.
7. Don’t Change The Goal Posts
Keep your routine the same each night, especially if you’re trying to break bad habits. Make a plan and follow the routine every night. Everyone will soon get in the swing of things and your little one will soon start to recognise the triggers that’s it’s time for bed and will be tucked up at a reasonable hour before you know it. It might not feel like it on night one, but by the end of the week you’ll have made great progress.
I’m sharing these tips with you as a proverb I heard many years ago said ‘A wise man learns from his own mistakes, but a wiser one learns from someone else’s.’ In this case I hope you’ll be the wiser parent.
Recognise anything in this post? I’d love you to share it with your followers and help all those wiser parents out there.