How We Do Bedtime

20151011_163232Our bedtime routine has gone through many various transformations throughout the years. New home, new sleep space, new baby, nursing baby/toddler, and weaned baby/toddler are some of the main factors impacting our bedtime routine.  We also try to take into account the individual sleep needs of each family member.

We are currently in a pretty good rhythm as far as bedtime, but to be honest there were periods when I completely loathed bedtime.

Before jumping into our nighttime routine it might be helpful to share some background:

  • We are a family of 6; Dad, Mom, and 4 boys ages 8, 6, 4, and 14 months.
  • We are a cosleeping family.
  • My 14 month old nurses to sleep.
  • The older two boys share a bedroom. They have twin beds that are pushed together.
  • The 4 year old has his own bedroom with a queen bed in it; he will eventually share this room with his younger brother.
  • We have an “open bed” policy. Kids are welcome to sleep in our bed when/if/as needed. We have a king bed in our room.

Here’s what currently works for us. It’s a bit of the divide and conquer approach.

Bedtime routine starts at 7:30ish with the goal of lights out at 8:00pm.

First, the kids eat a snack at the kitchen table. Then they brush teeth, pee on the potty, and put on their jammies. Most nights my husband reads from a chapter book on his e-reader (so the lights can be off) to the older two boys in their room. He has a chair he sits in next to their bed and reads to them for about 20 minutes a night. Sometimes they listen to an audio book or read to themselves for that 20-minute period. Nighttime reading is very important to us; mainly because they attend a Dutch school and therefore get no exposure to English reading/writing outside the home. We need to continue to foster their English literacy skills so when we eventually go back to the States they are roughly at grade level. Once the 20 minutes of reading is done, daddy leaves the room and the two boys talk themselves to sleep each night. We don’t mind them talking as long as it is quietly and they are not being silly/wild. I actually really enjoy eavesdropping on their bedtime conversations. Most of the they speak to each other in Dutch and it’s always fun for me to listen in.

While daddy is with the older two boys, I lay with the younger two boys. My 4-year-old picks two picture books for me to read to him. While I’m reading to him, I nurse my 14 month old, who will generally fall asleep at this time. My 4 year old falls asleep really fast; like literally the second I finish reading he rolls over and passes out.  The two of them spend the first part of the night together in the bed. When my 14 month old wakes to nurse, I either nurse him in the bed there or bring him in the bed with me. It mostly depends on what time of night it is and/or how tired I am.

The above is all best-case scenario of course, and there are so many things that can hijack bedtime. There are nights it seems we play more musical beds than I would care for but as the boys get older this is happening less and less.  And I feel like solid sleep is happening more and more. I have a Fitbit that allows me to track my sleep and I always feel a huge sense of accomplishment when I meet my sleep goal, lol!

Tags: bedsharing, bedtime, Breastfeeding, cosleeping, nightweaning, sleep

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