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When Toby and Gabe were younger we were always quite strict about bedtime. We kept to our routine, even on holiday and for special occasions. This was mostly because both boys really need their sleep and they just didn’t cope well with staying up late. They would be grumpy, and then it would cause problems for at least a day or two after.
I wrote about how I used to cuddle both boys to sleep when they were younger. Although I don’t do that now, we do still stay in their room until they are both asleep. A later bedtime for them means less evening for us too. Staying with their 7 pm bedtime benefits all of us really!
There are lots of changes in how and where your children sleep as they get bigger. Toby went quickly from a moses basket to cot in his own room at six weeks old, then to a full size single bed when he was two and a half. Whereas Gabe had a co-sleeper crib until about eight months, and then a cot in our room until he was one. He stayed in his cot until he was three, before moving into bunk beds with Toby.
Neither of the boys had a toddler bed but they are great if you want to make the transition from cot to bed easier. You can get lots of lovely ones these days, like these toddler beds from Room to Grow.
Wherever your children are sleeping though, we’ve found sticking to the same bedtime routine helps them settle more quickly, and stay sleep for longer too.
Sticking To Our Bedtime Routine
We are a bit more relaxed now the boys are a bit older, and don’t worry too much about the odd late night. On holiday this summer they both stayed up until about 9 o’clock most nights which was fine as we had a week when we got home to get them back to normal before school started back.
During the shorter school holidays though we do try and stick to our routine as much as we can. We find that they can’t readjust quickly to early mornings again if they have been staying up late and sleeping later during the holidays so it’s easier just to keep to our usual bedtimes.
This even applies on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve! Of course on Christmas Eve Toby and Gabe were super excited but we usually find telling them they need to get to bed and asleep or Father Christmas won’t come does the trick of getting them into bed.
Our Usual Bedtime Routine
Usually we starting getting the boys ready for bed at about 6:30 pm. They go to the loo, get their pyjamas on and have their teeth brushed and are normally in bed by about 6:45 pm.
Then they have stories. Sometimes we are reading a longer book, at the moment it’s Christmasaurus and the Winter Witch, which Toby and Gabe are both enjoying. Last year I read the first three Harry Potter books to Toby but Gabe wasn’t really interested so he had something different with Daddy in our bedroom while I read to Toby.
After stories it’s time for the light to go off and whichever of us isn’t staying with them that evening gets to leave. If I’m staying with the boys we listen to a Moshi Story – these are stories on an app that are specially designed to help children fall asleep. They do work – I find it quite hard to stay awake myself sometimes!
If it’s Daddy’s turn to do bedtime then he usually plays them some music on his phone and then sings for them too. Sometimes it still takes them a while to fall asleep but usually they are both asleep by 8 pm and we can make our escape.
Do What Works For You
I know sitting with your children until they fall asleep isn’t for everyone but it works for us. Once they are in bed and settled we never have any messing about, they don’t get up again (apart from when Gabe decides he needs another wee 10 minutes after the last one) and will generally just lie quietly until they fall asleep.
We have tried leaving them to go to sleep on their own a few times but it always just ends up with them crying and getting worked up and then bedtime taking even longer! It’s not going to be forever – I’m sure they’re not going to need me in their room to fall asleep when they’re teenagers so for now we’ll just keep doing what works!
Bedtime on Christmas Eve
Although we were keeping our normal routine, this year we were sent some goodies to help make Christmas Eve a little bit more special than just an ordinary bedtime. For the last few years we have read The Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve – we were sent a new copy by the lovely people at Room to Grow this year, along with a cozy blanket for the boys to snuggle under too.
We also got a fab penguin lamp, and some lovely personalised pillowcases that we’ll be able to use every Christmas. Toby and Gabe were both really excited, especially because my brother was staying over too. But we still got them in bed by about 7:30 and they were asleep before 8:30. What was even better was they didn’t wake us up until after 7 on Christmas morning!
What’s your bedtime routine? Do you always stick to it or are you more relaxed for holidays and special occasions?