what to use to calm my children for bed?

Wendy - posted on 10/10/2011 ( 117 moms have responded )

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Mommy here to ask this question: What could I use to calm my kids 1/2 hour -1 hr before bedtime? What have you or are using for your kids? Both goes to school from 8-2. Mine are 4year old daughter and 8 year old son and they can get rowdy before bed and its hard to get them to calm down. I dont really have a routine schedule for them but their bedtime is 8-8:30. I gave up on putting my daughter in her own bed b/c she gets scared and dont know why so she goes to my room or sleeps on our comfy couch. When my hubby is home, he hardly ever sticks to anything that Ive been doing with our children and it really frustrates me when he just does the opposite to what Im trying to teach my kids. I feel that he doesnt back me up on bedtimes routines if any or our home schedule which is not much of anything if that.

Would love to hear from everybody! Thankyou in advance!

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Tinker1987 - posted on 10/10/2011

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have you considered getting them into reading... i try to do things by routine but im not hardcore on it sometimes we slip off routine,my suggestion would be to start with your youngest around 8 after a bad and in pjs get her interested in reading a book either with her or on her own maybe she will get sleepy after some quiet time,then do the same with the older one. i used to read alot when i was a child,it was my thing to do everynight before bed. most likely beacuse there wasnt video games and computers to distract me so much, lol.

Cheryl - posted on 10/17/2011

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I know it's hard to stick to it, but routine really is the key. If I didn't do the same thing every time I put my kids to bed they would NEVER sleep. As it is they stay up and talk most nights. We take baths and get into jammies, then we watch a tv show or short movie that gets them to sit still, brush teeth, and then we read one or two chapters from the Magic Tree House book series, tuck them in sing a short lullaby and then to sleep. There are days that they are extra tuckered out that they are asleep before the lullaby is over, but usually they talk a bit before they fall asleep. Their bed time is 8 so we start all of this preparation at about 6:30. It's inconvenient for the days that I just want to veg out, but it helps them to get enough sleep for their day the next day.

Bonnie - posted on 10/11/2011

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I know you say your husband doesn't use them, but routines work wonders and it helps to be on the same page. My boys are 3 and almost 5 and since they have been around a year old, we have had a routine with them.

On the nights they have a bath, they have that first at around 7 or 7:30pm. On the nights they don't have a bath, by 7:45/8pm at the latest, they get changed for bed. They have fruit, their teeth brushed, bedtime story if we have enough time, and then bed. Sometimes we have the tv on while they have their fruit, but it is never anything they are interested in watching as that would probably round rile them up more. It can be calming.

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Thanks for all the help girls. I'm going to lock this thread in order to allow other Mom's to get answers to their questions. :)

Charlotte - posted on 01/13/2012

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Your children are older than my one :) but everynight we have dinner as a family @ 5/5;30 and then from dinner its wind down time I have a lamp on and the big light of to try and chill the atmosphere and from then until half 7 we rear books, cuddle and watch tv with warm milk and then he goes in the bath @ 7:30/7.45pm and then stright from the bath we go into his bedroom, cream him and I put all his pjs on ect. In his bedroom (also with just a little lamb on) then I put him in bed and kiss him goodnight and then I leave the room :)

[deleted account]

My daughter has found it beneficial to cut all television viewing by her children (ages 3 and 1) after the evening meal. A warm bath with some lavender oil in it also seems to help preparing the children for bed. Try not to have the children eat anything for at least an hour and a half before bed, a full stomach is not conducive to sound sleep, in fact recent studies have shown that it may increase the likelihood of nightmares etc.
With my children I always read bedtime stories. As far as keeping to a routine, it's important that both parents are on the same page with this, especially in the initial stages of establishing it. Try to talk with your husband, show him what has been written here, seek help and advice from medical professionals that he may be inclined to listen to. Encourage him to participate by supervising the kids baths, reading them stories (and not making them excited in the process), helping them to 'wind down' from the day's activities and prepare them for a restful night's sleep. Perhaps your daughter may benefit by sharing a bedroom with her brother, I know my daughter shared her bedroom with her younger brother until they were well into their teens (there was no other option at the time). Often the presence of someone else in the room helps both children to settle.

[deleted account]

My daughter has found it beneficial to cut all television viewing by her children (ages 3 and 1) after the evening meal. A warm bath with some lavender oil in it also seems to help preparing the children for bed. Try not to have the children eat anything for at least an hour and a half before bed, a full stomach is not conducive to sound sleep, in fact recent studies have shown that it may increase the likelihood of nightmares etc.
With my children I always read bedtime stories. As far as keeping to a routine, it's important that both parents are on the same page with this, especially in the initial stages of establishing it. Try to talk with your husband, show him what has been written here, seek help and advice from medical professionals that he may be inclined to listen to. Encourage him to participate by supervising the kids baths, reading them stories (and not making them excited in the process), helping them to 'wind down' from the day's activities and prepare them for a restful night's sleep. Perhaps your daughter may benefit by sharing a bedroom with her brother, I know my daughter shared her bedroom with her younger brother until they were well into their teens (there was no other option at the time). Often the presence of someone else in the room helps both children to settle.

Stephanie - posted on 11/27/2011

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my daughter is 3 months old. So she is pretty easy so far. To answer your question though, I give her a bath and then get her dressed in clean pajamas. Then we snuggle in a rocking chair and read a couple of stories before I put her down.
A friend does this: Her son is 5. She has him watch an episode of a favorite half hour show about an hour before she wants him in bed. Then when the show is over, she has him go into the bath tub. After his bath they get dressed, brush teeth, and read stories and sing a couple of songs with him in bed.
Hope these ideas help.

Julie - posted on 11/21/2011

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Knew there had to be something about chamomile tea.Most of my family is allergic to ragweed.

Joaquinna - posted on 11/19/2011

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What I do is after my son had his bath i would rub hs good night lotion on him and put his clothes on lay him dwn and turn pn his favorite lulaby

Wendi - posted on 11/17/2011

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Stevia takes the edge off the taste or honey. for my two year old we were told to steep the tea and whatever sweetener that worked in a 16 oz glass as you would if it was 8 oz and then dole out in in small batches untill you find toe oz amount that works as each child is different. Our little man requires 5 oz on average.

Eileen - posted on 11/17/2011

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Routine. Constistency. And yes, absolutely chamomile tea is caffeine free, but be vary if your child has ragweed allergies,a s they are in the same family (I learned this the hard way with my little guy!). i find half hour of down time, screens off and reading or coloring before bed is very helpful for everyone, yes, me included!
The real key is creating a calming natural rhythm and routine. AND be consistent!

Julie - posted on 11/17/2011

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Good to know Wendi. Unfortunately my kids don't like the taste of any herbal teas I've tried to get them to drink when they've had bad colds and such. Warm milk really does work though.

Julie - posted on 11/16/2011

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I let my kids sleep on my floor in a sleeping bag when there's a thunderstorm.

Julie - posted on 11/16/2011

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Sometimes for a few nights even up to a week, you might have to sit in a chair by their bed. Gradually move the chair farther away each night until you're outside the door.

Julie - posted on 11/16/2011

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Is the tea herbal, because caffeine is dangerous to children under 5. It makes their heart beat too fast and can cause a deadly arrhythmia.

Wendi - posted on 11/15/2011

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For our youngest... 2 year old VERY stubborn little boy we use Lavender lotion PJs Chamomile tea ((4 oz for him)) and soft music. Takes about 30 minutes to an hour if he is really in a fighting sleep mood to get him to go right to sleep. ((Easy listening Music channel on Comcast is a godsend))

Kayla - posted on 11/14/2011

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Every child is different but what I have found that works best for my son is, no sweets/candy 1.5 hour before bedtime, give him a bath and then let him sit on the couch and watch a movie until bed time. I started this about 2 years ago and it seems to work and has for a long time now. Good Luck!

Katie - posted on 11/11/2011

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Let her pick out her nightlight, a soothing scent to spray on a lovie..They have tents that go over kids beds to make them feel safe..It helps my son along with a nature noise maker, he picks the noise. If she keeps coming to your room i would use my aunts trick have her/him sleep in a sleeping bag on the floor. And hubby has to be on the same page!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jenn - posted on 11/09/2011

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First of all, it is important for your daughter to learn to sleep in her own room. Ask her why she's scared. See if you can fix the issue to make her feel safer. If it's the dark she is scared of, put a night light in her room. Make sure she has her fave stuffed animals and let her know that you're right down the hall and she has nothing to be scared of. If she leaves her room at night, put her back as soon as possible telling her this is her room and she needs to sleep there. Keep doing it no matter how many times she gets up.

As for getting them to relax before bed, the best thing to do is to make sure they're tired. Get them outside or active about 2 hours before bed. Get rid of that excess energy and tire them out. Around 30-45 min before bed, get them into the bath if needed. Jammies on and make sure teeth are brushed. Read a story with them or just talk about the day. No Tv & no games is extremely important. Tv and games get the brain going and can overload kids right before they're supposed to go to sleep. I allow my older two to read a story before they go to sleep or draw for a bit. This usually calms them down.

Summer - posted on 11/09/2011

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I make some warm sleepy time vanilla tea, with warm milk.... and she TOTALLY mellows and falls alseep within 30 min of drinking it.

Cassandra - posted on 10/31/2011

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Lavender!! Someone told me it worked and wow has it always worked for my son!! ........ That and what Keli said. Reading is absolutely amazing and I have never met a child that didnt love it! Another thing I noticed with my son is if I let him run around and watch all sorts of cartoons right before bed he seems more wound up! But hey every child is different! Best of luck!!!

April - posted on 10/29/2011

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i use a chamomile lavender oil rub on their feet while they lay in bed and i tell them a story and they get so sleepy

Sarah - posted on 10/28/2011

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well you can always put them in your bed or big bed and put on some kow calming music and read in a nice gentel voice and sometimes tickle their backs thats what i do when my kids are rowdy before bed hope this helps!:)

Sophia - posted on 10/25/2011

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nice warm bad always helps ,and a good bed time storry.warm melk.one day you bring them to bed and the other day you husband brings them .if not try fore your selfs .let them help with the washing upe .and then do the things you have to do ,bruch there tooth and put on there pyama's .and read a storry with both the children in one room ,one night in there and they other night here ,good luck

Kacey - posted on 10/25/2011

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I can totally relate. Both my 3 and 1 year old rarely take naps and try to party late into the night. Sometimes nothing works and just hope they'll eventually pass out. But, my tips are...
1. Take a bath.
2. Make sure they've had some food in their tummies.
3. Read a book, or two..or three.
4. Lay down in bed with them for a little cuddle time or talk about any worries or concerns.
5. You could tell them to close their eyes and imagine pleasant thoughts..Ocean waves, clear blue sky, butterflies, the wind blowing through the trees.
Good luck to you, mommy! :)

Juli - posted on 10/25/2011

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I put relaxing cd in DDs cd alarm clock, for me if I have a hard time I put 1 drop of pure lavinder oil on te collar of night shirt or gown might work on an older child as well it puts me right to sleep!! a warm bath helps with DD as well.

Michelle - posted on 10/24/2011

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routine sounds like that is what is needed. try reading them a story before bed time to show that this is time now to settle down and do this at the same time every night. if they are hypo active try giving them a cup of chamomile tea ( which is safe for children ) as it is a calmative and is also great when they are teething and have belly upsets. also there are plenty of websites that also have great information when it comes to bed time e.g. www.babycenter.com

Vanessa - posted on 10/24/2011

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i do a warm bath then i put lavander lotion i use natural lavander lotion so there is no cemicals.. by the time i get her into bed shes sleepy and easy to pass out with a short book

Jamie - posted on 10/24/2011

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I like California baby calming wash. It seems to relax both my boys. My son (almost 3) becomes very wound up when he is really tired. Maybe try an early bed time.

Christina - posted on 10/24/2011

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I, like most other replies suggest routine, also for the scared at bedtime, my 4 year old gets scared too, when its time for lights out I turn off the lights then he looks around his room with a small flashlight to make sure everything is safe, then he turns it off and puts the flashlight under his pillow. That way if he wakes up scared he simply gets his flashlight out and looks around. Then he goes back to sleep. Once we started doing that he stopped coming to bed with us immediately!

Isabel - posted on 10/24/2011

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I agree with everyone with routine. It works great. Kids need structure no matter what. We have routine all day even when my son doesn't notice because it has become a habit. As for bedtime it should start after dinner. With a bath or finishing up homework first. Then brushing teeth and a bedtime story. Start with your little one but if she sleeps with you then have her with you with the older one and read a bedtime story. And since the oldest is 8 have them read to you and the little one. And as fir husband give a set time perhaps after dinner for the Kids to goof around then go with your routine with them cuz during that time you can relax or get things done.

Carrie - posted on 10/24/2011

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Sorry for the double post and the typos. "Smart phones" are so wonderful....

Emma - posted on 10/24/2011

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Well my kids are a lot younger than yours and maybe they will change as they get older. However, we have always had a very strict bedtime routine since they were born (a must with twins) and it has worked a treat. In fact the have STTN since they were 6 weeks old!!! Our routine consists of dinner at around 4pm-5pm. An hours playtime which usually exhausts them. Bath at 6pm folloewd by a warm drink, brush teeth then into bed when we tell them a story and put on some soothing music. They are usually asleep within 10 minutes and sleep for 12-13 hours lol. Just establish a routine that fits your family life and then stick to it but you really need both parents to be onboard because it's pointless working hard at setting up a routine and then distrupting it within a few days. Of course there are times when we can't do this (for example visiting family, friends or when on holidays) but as soon as you get home, just re-introduce the routine and they will usually slip back into it within a couple of days. Our kids are so used to their routine that if we are running slightly late or something crops up to distrupt it then they get really grumpy and my son even taps my leg and pounts to the stairs to let me know that he's ready for be lol - good luck xx

Carrie - posted on 10/24/2011

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There's no doubt here--routine is the let. Every child is different, but all do
better with routine. What worked well
for me was a bath, (with soothing baby
wash for the younger if you want to try
it), then a book before bedtime. The
older one could read to himself. It will
take time and consistency, but it will be
worth it. Of course, no sugar, caffeine,
or chocolate several hours before bed
goes without saying, and staying away
from processed foods and food dyes
may help too. In addition, if they are in
school all day and therefore cooped up
without a way to release pent up
energy, having them do something to
exert a lot of energy IMMEDIATELY after
getting home might help them be more
relaxed later in the day.

Carrie - posted on 10/24/2011

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There's no doubt here--routine is the let. Every child is different, but all do
better with routine. What worked well
for me was a bath, (with soothing baby
wash for the younger if you want to try
it), then a book before bedtime. The
older one could read to himself. It will
take time and consistency, but it will be
worth it. Of course, no sugar, caffeine,
or chocolate several hours before bed
goes without saying, and staying away
from processed foods and food dyes
may help too. In addition, if they are in
school all day and therefore cooped up
without a way to release pent up
energy, having them do something to
exert a lot of energy IMMEDIATELY after
getting home might help them be more
relaxed later in the day.

Tracy - posted on 10/23/2011

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On non-bath nights, we play a board game as a family. Then we come upstairs and do teeth, pajamas, and then books. My hustand reads to 1 daughter and I read to the other daughter (then we switch kids to the next time). And then girls can look at 2 books and then lights out.

Jodie - posted on 10/23/2011

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As the other mums have suggested a united front with the husband will help tremendously, we have dinner around 6:30pm then straight into showers, & then we have family time, where we play a game of uno etc just something that is not rowdy but still fun & we all have that time together and at 8pm my 8 year old son will go to bed & read & one of us will take our 3 1/2 year old daughter to bed & read her a story turn off the lights & sing her whatever 3 nursery rhymes that she chooses & then once that's done we walk out & she goes to sleep this only ever takes 20 mins maybe stretch a little all depends what story is being read. but they need some sort of routine, it doesn't have to be a strict one, i never have any issues at bed time. good luck & try & get that hubby to help & be a part of it.

Carly - posted on 10/22/2011

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Routine is great! We have dinner, a bit of free time while I clen the dishes, bath/shower time, then quiet time. Quiet time is about 30 minutes to lay in bed and do something alone and peaceful. My 7yo reads, my 4yo plays her Leapster and my 23mo watches one of them. Sometimes my 7yo will read to her sisters. But it gives thier bodies time to calm down and know its getting ready to sleep.

Meg - posted on 10/22/2011

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my baby is 20months and i always find hard time putting his to bed. at night i usually give him warm bath, put his to bed and let him watch cartoon for 30mins. during the day instead i just play and read him a book before giving his bottle of milk to sleep. but this routine usually change, it really depends in his mood.

Addie - posted on 10/21/2011

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You're right Robin. The parents need to show a united front. The best time to have that heart to heart is right after the kids are settled down. You need to let your husband see how his actions contribute to the problem. Ask him to be part of the solution, not the problem. My children's father learned the hard way. I had to go to the hospital and he had to stay home for a few days caring for the kids. Come bedtime, he was so ready to find them in their beds. "You heard your mother," were words I loved hearing. He finally understood just how tired a parent can be at the end of a day.

Robin - posted on 10/21/2011

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First, you have to communicate with your husband. Get on the same page or all your efforts will be a waste of time. I had the same problem with mine, and sometimes still do, but we sit down and talk about it. It's important for the children to realize they get the same thing from mommy and daddy.
However, we have had numerous problems with our daughter going to bed. Routine is key. They need to know what to expect. We do dinner, playtime, bath, small bedtime snack, watch a movie or children's show. About 10 minutes before bed, we tell her she has 10 minutes so it's not a surprise. Brush teeth, get into bed, read book, lights out.
In theory it works and sounds good, and she responds well to it, until the actual bedtime part of it. Tantrums, screaming, taking all her clothes out of the dresser, sometimes she just sits and plays until she falls asleep. But routine and consistency.

Casey - posted on 10/21/2011

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I love lavender to settle a child or adult for that matter. We do dinner at 5, showers right after, then its play time, Then about 30 mins before bed I try to get them to settle down. Bed time is at 8ish. If they want I will let them pick a book each. I have 3 kids. Then its they pick a movie and watch tv until they fall asleep. Its not the best but its what works for our family. I hope it helps.

Julie - posted on 10/20/2011

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Usually after the bath, I bring a chair by their bed and they each get to pick a book for me to read to them. If they pick a chapter book then we just read one chapter. Then because we're religious, we read a chapter of scripture and say a family prayer. Then I let my children listen to quiet music which seems to help. It gives them time to settle down without having to fall asleep right after getting in bed.

Kelsey - posted on 10/20/2011

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For my daughter, I do a pretty strict routine...Dinner, Playtime, Bath, Books, Bed. Usually No TV on at all from 6-8. It helps her wind down for the evening without the over-stimulation of the TV set. It might take you, and your child time to get used to doing something like this if you have never tried it..Good luck

Lisa - posted on 10/20/2011

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My son, now 9, used to not like the dark or nightlights. We've been through a few things & all work. First, we bought him a rainbow projector. It's a light that projects a prism on the wall, but is not too bright. He slept under a rainbow for a long time until he discovered lava lamps, so we got a timer for his lava lamp so it's just starting to flow well at bedtime & cuts itself off about an hour or two after he's in bed. Another thing he really loves is the glow-in-the-dark stars I put on his bedroom ceiling. The smaller they are, the more realistic they look. Both of my boys have stars in their rooms. My older son went straight from a nightlight to the stars. He wasn't staying asleep with the nightlight, so it was a perfect solution. The stars usually fade after about 15-30 minutes after the lights are out.

The rainbow lamp was about $20. The lava lamp was $15. And, the stars were $5.00-$10.00. Not bad for a good night's rest! Maybe one of these things will help your little ones.

Tracey - posted on 10/20/2011

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Kids getting rowdy before bed can even apply to older kids. I had no trouble getting my kids to sleep when they were small (say, up to age 8 or 9), and we did have a family bed (still do for Ms. Little, age 6). So it's not sleeping with Mom and/or Dad that causes problems. For the great majority of kids, it's routine. Little kids can't tell time and most very young ones don't even have much of a sense of time. They pick up what they should be doing by cues of what's going on around them, so that's why routines become really important. I remember learning to tell time when I figured out what the clock said when my daddy came home from work each day! But I was still little enough I didn't know if I'd spent 10 minutes doing something or all afternoon. I knew when my mom started rattling pans around and turning on the sink and stove it was dinner time, and I knew what was going to happen after that. If there had been no routine in my house, as a kid with undiagnosed ADHD, I'm sure I would have been bouncing off the ceiling until way too late.

I haven't seen anyone address the problem with your husband. You might try printing out a few of these responses (like mine, that explains *why* most kids need a routine) and explain to him that as someone who is with them all day long, you need some down time and can't be spending your entire evening when you're the most tired trying to get them to bed. My husband didn't get this either until I told it to him like this. In his view, he'd been gone all day and he wanted to play with them (because that's what most dads do). He didn't realize that what he was doing was really winding them up! And he didn't realize that I was getting increasingly wiped out and cranky because I wasn't ever getting a break and that he was making it so much worse. Once he realized that, he started doing the bedtime routine himself, and our kids grew to love "Daddy's homemade stories". After baths, he started out reading to them, but then started making up his own stories that are now legend in our household.

Once they get a little older, he can still do this, and should, but they'll be able to stay up later and won't be such a handful for you during the day (you can take your eyes off them without the fear that the 4-year-old will do something life-endangering). Then he can do the kinds of things he's probably been doing that are more physically active.

Kristel - posted on 10/19/2011

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Routines are not the all end all but if your kids know exactly what happens every day, they will know what they need to do and make your life easier at the end of the day.

Kristel - posted on 10/19/2011

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1. Develope a routine, when they come home from school give them a snack and have them do homework. Have your four year old color or draw a picture, or get an activity book she can do so she gets into this routine.
2. After homework and snack are done take them out on a walk, this usually gets out their extra energy and has worked with our daughter, they can go nuts outside and not tear up your home, and if your husband takes them out for a walk you can clean up the house or relax.
3. Dinner, things that help milk, vanilla, and no sugary foods, high protein dinners, this will make them sleepy and keep them full. If they insist on a snack before bed I give my daughter a hard boiled egg and she sleeps all night.
4. In our house after dinner there is no television, it's clean up time and then bath time.
5. Your children have to sleep in their own beds, children form fears, it's natural but you have to reassure them they are safe in their own home. On nights my daughter is sick I let her snuggle with me for 15 minutes and then it's off to her own bed and she sleeps. She knows I am there for her, and if then you can work your way down to just rubbing her back and saying it's ok. Try a night light, snuggly blanket or something she finds soothing. It's hard to follow any schedule or plan when there isn't one and it keeps changing... If you form a plan and stick to it I am sure your husband will be more willing to collaborate.

Our schedule:

5pm half an hour walk
6 Dinner
7 clean up and bathtime
8ish is bedtime.

They are never at the exact same time but she knows that this is how her bedtime routine goes.

Lisa - posted on 10/19/2011

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I also let them know what is happening each night as sometimes things are a little bit different because of after school activities. My children respond well to knowing what is going on.

Lisa - posted on 10/19/2011

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Hi I have a 4 year old girl and a 6 year old boy and they love their stories at bedtime. They are both in bed at the same time which is anywhere between 6.30 - 7 pm with the lights out by 7.15pm at the latest. Part of their routine is choosing a story they would like read and they then decide if they want joint story time or seperate time reading with mummy or daddy. After stories it is lights out and off to sleep. Sometimes we have to stay in with them for a little while if they are a bit unsettled but this calms them and they go to sleep. We also do reward charts in our house like if they go to sleep on their own then they get a sticker and at the end of their chart they get to choose a reward like staying up 10 minutes later. My son reads really well and enjoys time reading on his own so if my husband is not home or can't help with our routine for some reason my son will read quietly in his room until I am able to come and join him after his sister has had her bedtime stories etc.. Routines really to work best as all kids love boundaries it doesn;'t mean we can change them sometimes but it is best to keep to the same thing for you sake and theirs. Good luck let us know how you get on.

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