Note: When I wrote the first post about sleep, Flynn and Nola still mostly napped. Once they dropped their naps – Nola especially – an early bedtime was a must and a lot easier because the window was clear. When they used to nap there were some LONG nights of trying to get them to relax and fall asleep.
A little over two years ago (which as many people say about things feels like yesterday and so long ago all at the same time), I wrote this post “What I Googled This Week” about getting two toddlers to sleep at the same time and how I was very incapable of doing just that. If you didn’t read it, I was failing. I still have hot mess sleepers and have lived in two houses since this post and had two babies – like most sane individuals do.
While some locals around here are wrapping up the Olympics in such events like luge or the Biathlon. I have just wrapped up the 5+ month long event of getting 4 children 5 and under to bed – solo – basically every night. And friends, I survived and was actually not too horrendous at it. I deserve at least a silver, if not Gold. I mean we actually are a few nights in with Dominique home and he has set back by time by like 15-30 minutes. Technically it is not his fault – we have just been waiting a bit to actually eat dinner with him and we also have been each taking one kid from the set (me Navi, D Quince – me Nola, D Flynn). This dividing up has sort of slowed things down a bit, but we will get it right just in time for D to hit the road all the time again.
If there is any mom out there though who is searching Dr. Google for a bedtime strategy for getting kids to sleep SOLO here are my sub-par tips for you. Also, if you have kids that you just read to and then leave the room well you probably are on the wrong site. So let’s go.
- Start early. Like two hours earlier than when you actually want your kids to sleep. My goal is big kids asleep between 7-7:30 and we legit start baths and all that at 5:30. Worst case scenario, we get to bed super early and I just read an extra book or two or heck see if they will fall asleep early. Obviously, if you aren’t getting home until later – bedtimes will be later, but I also find that with Nola I have to try for as early as possible or girlfriend gets a huge second wind and throws a party like it’s her last night of freedom.
- Baths do not have to happen every night or even at night. I am blessed with a bath tub on the first floor and so I often threw all 3 older kids in the tub while I semi-cleaned up the kitchen, but some nights when running late I would just skip the bath or plan on giving kids a bath in the morning. I mean Quince often showers for fun while the kids are at school and Flynn gets up so early he can shower before school or sometimes they bath in the middle of the day since they get out of school at 12:30. Basically all that crap above is summed up as just rethink the whole need bath every night at night thing.
- Plan for the infant to not sleep. Navi cried for the first few months of her life. Basically, all of October she screamed through bedtime. I would wear her in the sling while reading and rubbing backs. The kids oddly accepted it and it made life easier just planning for her to bed around and really being around and screaming. Now a few months in she turned into a not Boone baby and I can nurse her, throw on a sleep blanket and put her in the dockatot between 5:30 and 6 and she passes out pretty easy. It is very foreign to me and I still am concerned she was switched at birth – aside from the fact that she oddly looks a lot like me.
- Have some idea of a plan and some backups. My most common night I would get Quince to sleep between 6:30-7. The big kids tended to have phases of activities they liked to do – like color, magnatiles or play with their figurines. I admit my kids play nice together – especially at night for some reason – but they sort of took to this just given the situation. They often bring everything upstairs because they are scared to be on the first floor alone, but some nights they’re playing in their PJs and didn’t even notice. On nights when I thought they might be a pain while getting Q to sleep I would give them a snack to eat while I went up with Quince. Now I would be lying if I said there were not nights were Quince was basically asleep and those two would come into the room asking for things or be yelling for me to wipe them waking the whole damn neighborhood. But we sort of had some routine and they took to it. As for the nights where they interrupted, I just try not to lose my mind because it all went down hill once that happened. Note: I often would threaten their existence because they’re requests were insane.
- Prepare for the plan to not work. That line sums up everything in my life, but there were times when Quince took a late nap or was having a hard time falling asleep and was pushing too far into the big kids bedtime. Those nights Quince would come into bed with the big two and annoy us while I read/rubbed backs. Flynn gripped about it, but we just moved forward and I focused on whatever treat/show I had planned for myself downstairs.
- On that note, prepare yourself a reward. Beer, wine, cookies, ice cream, all of the above. Doesn’t matter, but plan for a treat. DO NOT PLAN TO GET ANYTHING DONE. (or at least I cannot) That makes me insane. When I used to work from home, I would plan to get work done after the kids went to sleep. It would make bedtime so stressful because I knew I had something I had to do. Now that I just plan on (maybe) cleaning the kitchen and for sure watching a show with a dessert in hand I am much calmer. And bedtime is much calmer. And life is better.
So there you have it. Have a strategy, keep said strategy simple, plan for when things need to change (like order of kids) and give yourself a treat (not work) at the end. Simple right?