How to Prepare Multiple Children for Bed and Still Have Time for ME!
How to Prepare Multiple Children for Bed and Still Have Time for YOURSELF!
Think FAMILY SYSTEM versus individual child and suddenly getting multiple children down at night and still having a moment to yourself is feasible. True, there is a bit of juggling, but imagine ALL the children asleep and still having an hour or two for yourself! To make it happen:
Infants, toddlers, and preschoolers need twelve or more hours of sleep during a 24-hour day. School age children typically require 10-11 hours of sleep, which means if your toddler or preschooler naps, then their bedtime can match that of their older sibling.
Establish a consistent morning wake time for all.
Determine what time your family needs to rise in the morning to get going without feeling rushed. Then keep a sleep log for a few days noting what time each family member awakens. If you have a little morning lark who wakes at 6:00 AM no matter what time you put them to bed, you’ll need to lean in their direction as it is VERY difficult to get them to sleep later.
Create a daily routine that establishes regular family mealtimes. Rather than a frenzy of short order cooking, meals can become a time for your family to connect and re-center.
Prepare everyone for bed at the same time. Even if some children will have lights out later than others, bedtime snack, pajamas, toileting/diapering and teeth brushing tasks can be completed together.
Sample Family Routine for:
A Toddler, Preschooler and School Age Child Waking at 7:00 AM *
Try to maintain the times within 30-minute window 7 days a week.
6:30 AM Wake up for parent so you begin the day with time to care for YOU!
7:00 AM Wake up for ALL children. This is your cornerstone; the day builds from here. **
7:30 AM Breakfast for ALL children and parent/s too when possible.
9:30 AM Mid-morning mini meal to prevent blood sugar drops and set the body clock.
11:00 AM Lunch – yes, a bit early, but necessary for the toddler to go down for their nap.
11:30 AM Nap begins for the toddler who can easily sleep 2.5 to 3 hours.
12:00 PM Nap for the preschoolers – who typically nap 1.5-2 hours ***
2:30 PM Mid-afternoon mini meal – or whenever they wake – do not wake from a nap.
5:30 PM Dinner for ALL
6:00 Baths and showers
6:30 Books, homework, low key play
7:30 Bedtime routine begins for all children.
8:00 Lights out for toddler napping 2.5-3 hours and kindergartener/young elementary
8:30 Lights out for preschooler napping 1.5 hours and older school age.
8:30-9:45 PM Free time for you.
9:45 Begin your sleep routine.
10:15 Lights out for you to get the sleep you need and deserve.
* If yours is a family is waking at 6:00 AM shift all times one hour earlier.
**If you have an infant, let the noise of the household waking cue them, this is when our family begins the day! Doing so will help to develop their circadian rhythm which tells the body when to sleep and when to be awake.
***A non-napping preschooler who wakes at 6:00 AM needs lights out by 6:00 PM and a non-napping preschooler waking at 7:00 AM needs lights out at 7:00 PM. Maintaining this bedtime can be VERY challenging. That’s why it is so important to protect those naps!
A bit skeptical? Before you dismiss this idea, I encourage you to take the challenge. For the next 2 weeks implement a FAMILY SYSTEM’S routine. Schedule activities around sleep – not at the expense of sleep. Then let me know what you think.
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