Look, I'm no parenting expert. I'm about to tell you about our toddler bedtime routine; I cannot guarantee that what we will do will work magic in your home. Heck, I can't even guarantee for myself that these methods will work on our wild child 100% of the time. But these are things that we do to help make bedtime a little bit easier for a spirited child who hates sleep. Honestly, I believe it all comes down to the routine. By following the same steps every single day, it helps her settle in for the night.
Ok, but first, this post I wrote 1 year ago, when my almost-2 year old was still nursing and fighting bedtime and waking up multiple times in the night.
1. Bath + brushing teeth
2. Bedtime stories
3. Nursing and cuddles
4. Place drowsy toddler in crib; toddler is promptly alert and upset
5. Stroke toddler's hair until my upper body gets sore from leaning over the crib railing
6. Sit down and awkwardly hold toddler's hand through the crib slats for at least 15 minutes (but usually 30)
7. Sneak out quietly!
8. Wake up in a few hours to crying toddler; bring her into your bed because 1am is for sleeping and not fighting a screaming child.
My co-sleeping, spirited, super-attached toddler? She's not always easy. But someday, she'll be 7 years old, sick with chicken pox or the flu, and I will sit beside her and stroke her hair. Someday, she'll be 16 and heartbroken over some boy who never deserved her spirit, and I will hold her hand until she falls asleep. Someday, she'll call us in the middle of the night, in some uncomfortable situation, knowing we will always be ready to rescue her.
For now, she's my baby and the days (and nights) are oh-so-long... but the years, oh, the years will go by so fast. I'll just consider this bedtime routine practice for the acts of love I'm lucky enough to be a part of.
And now, without further ado, The Bedtime Routine of Our Spirited Child.
The very first thing we do when we start to get our 2.5 year old is feed her. Usually, it's oatmeal, but sometimes it's cheese or pepperoni or cereal. What's important is that she needs to eat. Otherwise, at 2am she'll be demanding food. I don't know if there's any scientific connection between a full-tummy and a full night's sleep, but it works for us.
Wash Face, Brush Teeth
This step is usually when she realizes that bedtime is coming; this step is usually the one she fights the most. For awhile, I literally had to hold her down on our bed to brush her teeth - it was not fun. We've improved this situation by brushing her Dora stuffie's teeth at the same time.
Turn on Diffuser & Night Light
Now, I know correlation does not imply causation and maybe essential oils doesn't do anything, but I cannot deny that when I started using a diffuser in my toddler's bedtime routine that things became a little bit easier. Maybe using the same smell every night triggers something sleepy in her brain or maybe it's a coincidence. Regardless, this mama ain't taking any chances.
Check out the oils I use here.
I set the diffuser in her room to run for 2 hours; I always, always use lavender and sometimes I add in frankincense. I also turn on her Paw Patrol nightlight, which she will not go to sleep without.
Curious about incorporating essential oils into your life? You can read more uses for these oils in this blog post about the must-have oils for mamas.
Reading, Reading, and More Reading
I'll be honest, this step is the most time-consuming but also my favourite. My toddler has fallen in love with bedtime stories and my husband and I always read to her before bed. She chooses between 3-5 stories and we cuddle up on her bed and read.
When we're done reading, things go either 2 ways:
So, what are your essentials for bedtime?