How to Get More Sweet Dreams!
Conversations about sleep are so popular, especially among people with children. I am pretty sure I talk about my kids' sleep more often than anything else. Just about 7 years ago I was newly pregnant with my first child and had many dreams and aspirations as to what motherhood was going to be. I was thinking of the snuggles and the cute smiles, I wasn't thinking about my baby's sleep. I had a few friends who had talked about this sleep training technique or that new sleep trend but I didn't really pay attention. I figured we would cross the bridge when we needed to.
When our first was about 3 months old we decided that we wanted to start having a more predictable sleep schedule. This is about the time your baby will be finishing the 4th trimester and now better understands night and day. I had done a lot of reading and we had had a lot of discussions around what would work for our family. Our discussion and together deciding the best plan was the most important step! At the time my husband was working a job that had him arrive home around 6:30 pm each day, he wanted to be able to see our son and be a part of bedtime. We needed a plan that was best for all of us. We have learned a lot since them but we always have an open and honest discussion about it as it changes.
I am not a sleep expert but I do have kids who sleep very well and who are very different sleepers. My oldest can fall asleep anywhere and falls asleep fast. Our youngest has a severe case of FOMO (fear of missing out) and takes longer to fall asleep. The tips I am going to share are what worked for us. They may or may not work for you but I challenge you to read and adapt as you need. Like with any tips list, this is information to help you to guide your decisions about what your children need. So here goes...
1. Have a plan. It can be any plan but you need to have one. Our plan now is a version of that plan we started 6 years ago! We start with a bath, then calming lotion and essential oils and teeth brushed. Each night we read a book or two and then sing a song or two with each child. When they were little it was the same book and same songs to help them settle into the routine and set up a cue to signal sleep. Your plan should have your child winding down, to help them turn their brain down to get ready for sleep. If you stick to it you will see results.
2. Be consistent. Whatever sleep plan that you choose, you need to be consistent with it. For us, this meant that when we started our bedtime plan we stuck to it for as long as it took for it to become the routine. We planned to be home at bedtime, it can sometimes be a bit of an inconvenience but it will pay off and in the grand scheme of things. It is such a short time in your children's lives, enjoy the extra snuggles while you can. Everyone is happier when they get more sleep and children thrive on routine. When they know what to expect and can predict what their body needs to do, they are much more agreeable. Being consistent is up to you as the parent, 6 years later we very rarely have to convince the kids to go to sleep. This has paid off huge as my husband is now traveling more for work so I have to do bedtime solo, there is never a fight!
3. White Noise. We have used a white noise machine from the beginning because we lived in a small apartment and wanted and extra barrier from any loud sounds. We use an app we have but you can buy small machines too. The best part about using it for us is when we travel. It doesn't matter where we are as long as we have the white noise the kids drift off into sleep quickly. Experiment with different options. We love the white noise so much we now sleep with it in our room too!
4. Reevaluate your Plan. As your kids grow and change be open to adapting the routine. We still have the same basic routine but sometimes our oldest wants to read a bit longer on his own. He doesn't stay up extra late (yet!) and will turn his light off when he is finished. Each time the kids moved into a new bed or house we also had to reevaluate our plan. This step we will be going back to many times as the kids grow but it is easy because we have steps 1-3 dialed!
I hope that these 4 steps will give you something to think about. I am a huge advocate for investing time into your sleep schedule both as parents and as children. Do you have more questions? Do you have more suggestions? Send me a message or follow along on Instagram @mountainmamawellness