A recent survey conducted by Blinds2Go to find out what the most stressful aspects of being a parent are shows that 29% of parents find bedtime to be the most stressful part of the day, swiftly followed by shopping and eating out also being a tough challenge which is why we do our weekly shop online. The least stressful moments of day to day life with children seem to be bath time and going on holiday - who doesn't love going on holiday after all?
Personally the most stressful parenting situations in our house are meal times as we have a fussy eater but it is quickly followed by bedtime. Bedtime has always been a struggle ever since Amelia was born and she only started sleeping through the night properly not long after she turned two. She still has nights where she doesn't stay in her own bed and every night is a struggle to get her to go to bed which results in me sitting next to her for anywhere up to an hour until she drifts off and then I have to sneak out of her room without waking her.
Now that Harrison is here bedtime has become even more stressful! As I have to ensure he is asleep downstairs before taking Amelia up and most nights if Amelia takes a while to go to sleep if she hears him cry she will jump up out of bed and then refuses to go back to sleep which results in me having to bring him upstairs and feed him whilst holding Amelia's hand to get her to go to sleep.
We never had a bedtime routine with Amelia until very recently, and I wish we did. Maybe she would have started sleeping through the night sooner - who knows? Getting her to actually sleep in her own bed would have been a start as she would co-sleep with us too. I have started introducing a routine for both of the kids and it seems to be working pretty well so far, it's mainly what we did with Amelia before Harry came along and he just fits in with it really.
I'm by no means an expert but I thought I'd share some tips on how to establish a bedtime routine for your toddler and hopefully it may help you if you are wanting to start one with your toddler, it's never too late to start a routine. Toddlers love routines because it makes them feel safe and secure knowing what comes next. A good routine will last an hour at the most and that includes everything from bath to the good-night kiss.
Here are a few other things to consider with your toddlers bedtime routine:
Keep it calm about an hour or so before bedtime, no jumping on the sofa, chasing the cat or playing hide and seek. The last thing you need is a hyperactive toddler which will result in a wresting match trying to get them to bed. After dinner we let Amelia watch the Simpsons as she and her daddy started watching it together before bed so it's kind of stuck and she now knows that this comes before bedtime. Sometimes she will sit and watch Youtube videos on the iPad, but during this time she will sit or play quietly before heading up for a bath.
A nice warm bath helps to calm down your toddler and relax before bed. Make bath time fun, with plenty of bubbles and some of their favourite bath toys then wind down with some more calming bath time rituals such as singing some nursery rhymes or counting and learning the alphabet. I also find that Johnson's bedtime bath really does work and helps Amelia get to sleep much quicker as it releases soothing aromas to help your child drift off easier. I can definitely notice the difference if we've run out and not used it one night.
It's up to you when you do this, before bath, whilst in the bath or right before bed but don't be tempted to skip brushing your toddler's teeth because it always turns into a bath. Even if they don't like brushing their teeth persist with it, be consistent and try make it fun, sing a song. Amelia used to hate brushing her teeth and have many meltdowns, now she asks to do them every night as she knows it's part of the routine. You could have a couple of fun colourful or character toothbrushes and ask your toddler which one they want to use. If you're still having trouble with getting them to brush their teeth perhaps brush yours too and they may wish to copy or try and let them brush their own teeth if you usually do so.
Story time is typically a key part in many bedtime routines across the world. I'll admit we never read book before bed up until very recently as it would always make Amelia more lively. She would also nurse to sleep so it was easier not to read before bed, although we made sure we read plenty throughout the day instead. Now that Harry is here I will definitely be introducing story time before bed with him and will sit them both down together snuggle up and read before bed. I've started reading with Amelia now as she is finally sleeping in her own bed and is going to be much easier than previously since starting the routine.
Reading books together is such a lovely part of the routine, let your toddler pick a couple of stories to read but narrow down the choices otherwise you'll be asleep before they decide which one to read first! Cuddle up together in the same spot - whether that be in their bed, your bed, the rocking chair or a beanbag on the floor. Where ever is the most comfiest place and read. Books with sleep themes tend to work best as you can act out part of the book with yawning etc and saying good night at the of the book as it gets them ready for bed.
Before we go upstairs to do our teeth after her bath Amelia will say goodnight to Andy (if he's not at work), Harry, and the majority of her toys which can take some time! Make sure the goodnights are brief except from mummy or daddy's of course. Let your toddler know when you're about to head upstairs and call the shots by saying "We're doing to say night night to Daddy, the dog, and your dolls then we'll go up and read a book." That way they'll know what's coming next.
Once they are tucked up in bed with their favourite stuffed toy or blanket turn on the night-light if they have one and sit down with them for five minutes, talk about their day ask them what their favourite part of the day was. I always ask Amelia what she wants to do the next day and that usually gets her into bed ha ha! Give them a kiss and say your good nights and love you's and let them do the same. I tell her that I'll see her in the morning and to go to sleep. I do have to sit and hold her hand but if your toddler will go to sleep on their own then walk out of the room at this point.
What do you consider to be the most stressful part of parenting?
You might also like: