Mama Drama: Getting the Babes to Bed
posted by: Lisa Vratny-Smith
Dear Mama Drama:
I can’t get my kids to bed at night. They don’t listen when I tell them to stop watching TV or playing and get ready for bed, they fuss about washing their faces and brushing their teeth, and they always have a million reasons why they need to get out of bed. Every night seems to end in yelling and tears. My husband and I are exhausted and the kids are cranky because they don’t get enough sleep.
~ Tired and Cranky Mama
Dear Tired and Cranky:
Please read the Mama Drama column on getting kids to tune in to help you with the listening issues.
It sounds like you are feeling like the kids are in charge and you are struggling to manage the situation. Take back your parental control by setting limits. Rules that are clear, understandable, reasonable, and enforceable. Offer choices so your children still feel empowered and you avoid becoming authoritarian. Make sure the choices are ones that you can accept and enforce.
Many children have difficulty winding down in the evening. They have often had so much activity during the day that settling it all down is challenging. Children need to be taught tools to help with this transition.
Make sure your children are getting enough physical activity during the day. Burning off energy during the day improves sleep. However, lots of physical activity or energetic interactions just before bed can make getting to sleep difficult.
If they are nearing the age of five, examine whether they still needs naps in the afternoon. If they do, you may consider an earlier or shorter nap. Napping too late in the afternoon can lead children to feel less tired at bedtime.
About an hour before bedtime, start slowing down the tempo of activities. Warm baths, dim lights, and calming books help children to prepare for sleep. Deep pressure input such as back rubs, massages, and gentle compressions of the joints help to calm the sensory processing systems.
I recently had to opportunity to try out the Smart Dreamzzz meditation CD* with my own children. While they don’t regularly have difficulty getting to sleep, there are some nights they struggle to settle in. Both of my sons, ages seven and ten, really enjoyed the meditations and reported that they fell asleep faster and easier. My ten year old said he noticed his dreams changing as the meditations changed. My seven year old reported that he felt more well-rested and alert upon waking the morning after listening to the CD at bedtime.
Smart Dreamzzz was researched and developed by a mom just like you who was struggling to get her children to sleep. It contains three animal meditations that bring about a sense of deep relaxation. Children learn to relax their bodies and slow their breathing to quickly ready themselves for sleep. It is a great tool to use with your children or to have them listen to on their own.
Another great resource for ideas is The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers: Gentle Ways to Stop Bedtime Battles and Improve Your Child’s Sleep by Elizabeth Pantley. She has tons of great tips she has used with her own children.
Motherhood is an amazing journey that can have its share of Mama Drama. The Mama Drama column runs on Fridays with everyday mothering questions from readers and answers providing strategies to tackle these daily challenges. Send your questions and challenges to Lisa@milehighmamas.com, and your Mama Drama could be in next week’s column! All emails and identifying information will remain confidential. *Lisa received a complimentary copy of the Smart Dreamzzz CD in exchange for an honest review of the product.