Every parent desperately needs more sleep, but it can definitely be difficult to get enough of it. Whether your kids are eight months, eight years, or even eighteen years old, getting everyone else in your house to settle down for the night can be a real challenge. Once they’re down, it’s time to make the choice between all the other things you need to do, and anything close to a full night’s sleep. We’re here to tell you: choose the sleep. You need it more than you think you do.
While some things are outside of your control, here are some things you can do as a busy parent to set yourself up for the best night’s sleep possible.
1. Lying down alone for 3+
It may be tempting to simply lie down with the kidlets until they’ve fallen asleep and sneak away. But consider this: if they become used to that, guess what happens any time they wake up during the night? That’s right, you have to get up and go put them down again. Using some other method of comfort for the little ones, like a stuffed animal or a special blanket, can become invaluable if they have trouble getting to sleep or sleeping through the night.
2. Calm Environment
Even if they want the light on, children tend to sleep better in the same environments that foster good sleep for adults. Low light from a nightlight, soft surroundings, and an area reserved specifically for sleep. It’s good to limit rowdy fun like jumping on the bed to different parts of the house so that their bedroom becomes associated with sleeping and rest, and not fun and games. Just as with adults, compartmentalizing that space can help your child sleep better at night.
3. Bedtime routines
A consistent routine can also help your child wind down when it’s time for bed. Whether it’s bathtime, a bedtime song or story, or bringing out a specific stuffed animal, knowing what’s coming next can be comforting and relaxing for your child. Setting a specific bedtime for your kids can also be useful because the expectation is clear. If bedtime is 9 o’clock every night, everyone knows when it’s time for bed.
4. Expect less
This may seem like a counterproductive exercise, but sometimes you just have to give up and know that it won’t be perfect. Sometimes, the kids just won’t go down. When your little angel just won’t stop sneaking out of bed to play with plastic dinosaurs on the bedroom floor for hours at night, sometimes you just cut your losses. Is she quiet, busy, and not hurting anyone? Take the win.
5. Put yourself to bed
This can be the hardest one of all. When everyone’s down for the night, you may be tempted to seize the moment to get a whole bunch of tasks completed. The floor needs to be swept, the laundry needs to be folded, and all the lightbulbs in the kitchen need to be changed. Or…it’s time for Netflix and uninterrupted late-night snack time. Sound familiar? Unfortunately, the temptation to knock out all those extra tasks or binge-watching can get in the way of the precious few little hours of sleep you can get as a parent. Learning to put yourself to bed at a specific time can truly help your productivity (and patience) in the long run.
Learning the right combination of factors that will put your kids down for the night can be difficult. But it’s important to set yourself up for success every night by setting habits in place that may pay off in the long run. And if despite your best efforts, your child still suffers from disrupted sleep, they may have a sleep disorder. That’s when it’s time to call in the experts. We want to help you and your family sleep better at night, so contact us for a sleep study today.