Toddlers And The Great Bedtime Debacle

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T.O.T.S! MOMMY T.O.T.S!  Does this or any other annoying kid show sound familiar to you?  Because at my house before bed this is my life.  Imagine this:  You just put your 4-month-old to bed at 7 pm.  You are excited because you know in exactly 60 minutes that your toddler goes to bed.  You are constantly looking at the clock every 5 minutes to see if the time has flown by since you last checked.  Alas, it has not.  At 7:59 pm you tell your toddler it is bedtime and then all heck breaks loose.  Crying, screaming, whining, JUST ONE MORE MOMMMMMYYYYYY.  And so you give in.  Not because you want to but because you just don’t want to deal with the pain and suffering of putting them to bed.  So, before you know it it’s now 9 pm.  You wanted to watch a quick episode of The Bachelor on demand but now can’t because you are tired from dealing with two kids all day.  How can you fix this? 

  1. Make sure that your bedtime is on target. If you had a full day at Idlewild Park soaking up the sun and your toddler skipped their nap (keep in mind a car nap is “junk sleep” and not restorative at all) odds are they need an earlier bedtime.  With all of the protesting going on before bed you would think I’m crazy.  But at this point, they are overtired and caught that second wind.  Your toddler will still wake at the same time in the morning and be tired the next day.  With that being said the day after any big outing ensure your nap time and bedtime are consistent (no matter how much protesting you get).
  2. Be boring. Yes! Act like you are so tired and you can not entertain them a second longer (really shouldn’t be too hard).  Don’t give in to “I need a snack” or “I need to go to the potty for the 4857 time in 10 minutes”.  Tell your toddler how tired you are and how you are going to bed too.  This will make your toddler think that they are not missing out on anything while they are sleeping.
  3. Keep story time alive at bedtime. Picking out a book and reading to your toddler will not only make them tired it is also a nice way for you to whine down with your toddler also.  If they are still in a crib read to them on a chair or the floor.  If they are in a toddler bed try to get them to lie down.  Keep in mind that you should not lie down with them especially if they need you there to fall asleep.  You want to practice independent sleep not a sleep association.
  4. Stickers work for everything. For my clients, I always recommend a sticker chart.  Toddlers love them (and for my own toddler I enjoy picking them up all over the house…haha) and love to get praise when they have completed a task.  Making a bedtime chart will help your toddler know what is expected of them.  Make the chart colorful and have them help you make it.  It can consist of a bath, PJs, brush teeth, book, bed.  Or add in whatever else you do during your bedtime routine.  Once your toddler has completed all tasks they put a sticker on the chart.  It will make them feel accomplished and will love the praise.

All toddlers are going to stall at some point before bed.  They push their boundaries and love to see how far they can go.  Try not to get frustrated and stick with your routine and things will smooth back out again!

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