By Becky Freeman
Bedtime can turn out to be quite the drawn-out ordeal when dealing, especially, with multiple small children. Here are the best hints to get kids to bed so you can have a little quiet time alone, or with your mate, too!
Keep bedtime the same time every night
Let the clock's 'hand' be the bearer of bedtime news by showing your child 'when the big hand gets to the top, its time for bed!'
Always precede bedtime with warm baths nothing relaxes kids and makes them as sleepy as a nice, warm bath before bed.
If they have a nighttime snack, milk and low-sugar cereal or oatmeal will give you children natural sleep inducing carbohydrates.
Vicki Lansky suggests having a 'Goodnight Parade', fun, especially if you have lots of children. The whole family marches through the house, stopping in the kitchen for water, bathroom for tooth brushing and toileting, the living room for hugging mommy or daddy goodnight (depending on who’s leading the parade). The youngest child, “the caboose” is dropped off first, tucked in bed and hugged by the others. The oldest child has the privilege of a little 'just you 'n me' big kid chitchat.
Read a bedtime story. (Limit the number ahead of time, or read 1 chapter” a night from a short chapter book. By skipping over some of the more detailed sections and using my most theatrical voices, I read Little House in the Prairie, Pipi Longstocking, The Box Car Children and several of Roald Dahl's books to my young preschoolers. )
Scott often read the kids their bedtime story (or better even, made up a tall tale of some sort). Sometimes he’d read it on their beds; sometimes they pile up around him as he read from the big Lazy-boy rocker. Of course the kids loved their Daddy to tickle and wrestle them in the evenings. Since that got them more excited than sleepy, I'd always follow Dad’s Play Time with bath time.
Sing to them. I love to sing, and when my children were small, they loved to hear me. I'd often rock them, or lie down with them, putting a karaoke-type background tape in the stereo and sing my heart out to my favorite soothing love songs or praise songs. They used to beg for more! (Ah, those were the days!)
Play a soothing tape of lullabies or a short children's story that ends with a pretty song of praise. Songs that affirm that God is watching over them, that He loves them are especially good.
It is very common for young children to have night terrors. We found the best response was to hold and comfort the child, the pray with them, using phrases like, “Dear Father, we know you protect us and that your angels take care of us even while we sleep…” Sometimes turning on a light, or a night light in their room, helps ease their fears as well.
Different parents have different views about whether or not to let the kids climb in bed with you at some point during the night. We allowed it frequently, though I have to admit, Scott and I didn’t sleep as well. Still, all of our children have grown up to sleep happily in their own beds and they are some of the most self-reliant and independent kids you'll ever meet. I really think this decision, like most parenting decisions, fall under the category of“do what feels best to you and your husband.” Children are amazingly resilient and adaptable given lots of love and guidance.
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