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The Witching Hour
I don’t know about your house, but at 7 pm every night weird things start to happen. My calm, beautiful, sweet children turn into crazy monsters. Bedtime is at 8 o’clock and somehow my children’s little bodies know exactly what time it is, and start expelling all of their excess energy as quickly as possible.
I’m not going to dress it up, that last hour may include screaming songs at the top of their lungs and jumping on the couch.
It’s a scary time, full of unpredictability and chaos… until we start our bedtime routine.
Thank Goodness It’s Bedtime! (TGIB)
When it’s finally time to get ready for bed (or I’ve simply run out of patience) we head upstairs and start our bedtime routine.
In addition to the normal pajamas and teeth brushed routine, we try to do the following every night in this order:
- Diffuse essential oils to help promote relaxation. I use a diffuser with a timer, so it only runs for about 20 minutes. The essential oil you choose MUST be something safe for children. I have been using this with great results!
- Apply Magnesium oil to their feet. Among its numerous benefits, Magnesium also promotes deeper sleep for both children and adults. You can read about it a little more in-depth here.
- Bedtime puppet. This sounds silly, but it works! We have a little cat puppet who my children associate with bedtime. This little cat interacts with them, reads them a book or sings them a silly song (our little cat friend has a terrible voice!), and then cuddles with them in their bed when I leave. My kids enjoy the routine and familiarity.
- Read, read, read. Now it’s time to settle in with a few books. My kids are 4 and 2, so we read a lot of picture books and short stories. I usually let my kids pick out 2 to 3 books each, which is enough time for them to get warm and comfortable in bed while I read.
- Lights out and white noise machine on. I love our white noise machine! I even included it in my Newborn Minimalist Essentials post. It doesn’t have to stay on all night, but for that first little bit of time before they fall asleep, it makes a huge difference! The noise helps block out any “monster sounds” your children may detect, and create a sound buffer between you and your children’s room(s). This way you can make noise in other rooms of your home without interrupting their sleep. Once they are out, you can toggle the noise down to low or turn it off completely.
Obviously, there is no guarantee here that your kids will fall right to sleep. Children can be unpredictable and stubborn at times, but this routine will help to transition them into a restful bedtime situation. The rest is really up to them.
One last thought…
If your child is regularly having trouble sleeping, you may want to refer to this article from the National Sleep Foundation. It includes a handy chart with recommended hours of sleep for each age.
Then you can go catch up on some sleep yourself or (let’s be real) watch Netflix!
Thank you, Melissa, for such lovely bits of advice. My wife and I will need them very soon 🙂
I like your blog very much.
You are so welcome and thank you! I wish you the very best in beginning your bedtime routines!
My son never slept well (especially at night) until I started using the HWL method by Susan Urban from her “How to teach a baby to fall asleep alone” ebook – by far one of the best things I’ve ever got my hands on to get him to fall asleep quickly and without rocking him to sleep ( found it on this website http://www.parental-love.com ). Can’t imagine life without it now! I heard about it at a playground when women were talking about how great it is!
Thank you, Angela, what a great resource!