For some, that may sound absolutely absurd. Hey, I was once that person. Until our son was 15 months old we had no set schedule and a lot of nights he went to bed whenever because I thought that was just easier. My husband worked grave shift for as long as I can remember so I had been the one who had taken care of the kids sleep schedule for the majority. By the time Macyn was 15 months old he was still waking up at night. I was pregnant with McKynleigh, and felt like an absolute zombie. I started to research sleep training(even though I don’t really like that term) and realized I had not been doing a good job at all with his sleeping habits. So I changed that. After a week of sleep training, we got the hang of it. Our kids now sleep from 7:30pm till 6:30-7am with a mid-day nap. They never wake up in the middle of the night and it has improved their attitudes and tantrums. I also got back my sleep and sanity at the same time! When I tell people that I arrange my days according to my kids sleep schedule they look at my like I’m crazy though. Why is that? I applaud those who can have no schedule but for us it is a must.
So here is the thing, every child is different and sometimes children are harder to train than others. I didn’t sleep train my son until he was almost a year and half but I learned my lesson. When our daughter was born, I did it from the very day we brought her home. She has been the best sleeper and never once woken me up at night. Yes, even as a newborn she slept through the night. She has even put her self to sleep from the beginning. I promise you, it has made life so much easier especially back when I had two under two.
What is sleep training? You may find various answers and the easiest answer is a method or regime to correct infant sleeping habits. You will more than likely read one that will say cry it out method. Now I never did the cry it out method with either of my children. Sure, McKynleigh may have whined a little. But I always have gone in, given a hug, and reminded them it was bedtime. For us the biggest struggle was finding a nap time and bedtime that worked for us. Yes it may be crazy to say, but for years my kids have napped and gone to bed at the same time. Even when we are traveling! It helps keep our sanity and honestly, it helps our kids. They know the times and sometimes even ask shortly before. After adapting to a strict sleep schedule, I noticed that each of them were less cranky through out the day and less wake ups during those sleep periods.
A sleep schedule that helps aid healthy sleep can also promote:
•Growth. Growth hormones are primarily secreted while asleep!
•Sleep increases attention spans. A good nights rest can increase a child’s attention span and help them decrease hyperactivity.
•Sleep also boosts learning. Even though we all look peaceful while asleep, our minds are still hard at work.
Now I get it, keeping to a sleep schedule is hard and it can be a pain when you aren’t home. I used to think it wasn’t worth it to have a strict schedule but now I am the parent who will leave family functions early or not plan to attend certain events because it will run into naptime or bedtime. And that’s okay! The very few times my kids schedule has been messed up or one of them has stayed up, I can definitely tell a difference in their mood and overall being the next day. Sleep is health and it is so important for infants and growing children. I do believe every family is different but for us, this is vital. Our routine keeps us going and I am perfectly okay with planning things around my children’s sleep schedule.
Helpful tips to better bedtime:
•Encourage self soothing. Try to not have your infant/child fall asleep while eating and lay down first. Slow down your response time to fussing and try to allow them to ease back into a sleep. A lot of time my kids aren’t even fully awake, and within a minute they are back into a deep sleep.
•Create a solid routine. From the time they wake up to the time they go to bed, create a routine. With bedtime, we do the “B’s”. Bath, book, bed. The kids know it and it makes it a lot easier.
•Keep temperatures and beds similar even while on vacation. It is was children are familiar with.
•Adjust when needed. Depending on the child’s age, bedtimes may be difficult. The average sleep needed for a 3-12 month old is 10-14 hours, the average sleep needed for a 1-3 year old is 11-14 hours, the average sleep needed for a 3-5 year old is 11-13 hours, and the average sleep needed for a 5-12 year old is 10-12 hours.
•Look at their diet. If your child is drinking or eating sugar filled foods right before bed, it may cause disruption. An hour before bed, we put up all drinks so that way the kids are less likely to have to get up and go to the bathroom at night.
No matter if you are looking at starting a bedtime routine or get comments like I have for living around my kids sleep schedule, don’t be ashamed! A healthy sleeping routine is not only good for kids but good for parents. I have seen both sides and I can truly say for our family, it is what is best. Our kids are happier and more rested since we began having a strict sleeping schedule. Plus it gives mom and dad some alone time!
Do your children struggle with bedtime?