I have a confession. My oldest daughter was a saint from day one. Slept like a champ, needed no rocking to sleep, ate whatever handed to her, smiled all day long. Then – BAM – she turned 2, we tried to move her from a cot to a crib, and all hell broke loose. Awful bedtimes became the bane of our existence – guilt, fatigue, and hard relationships ensued.
Like many first-time, clueless parents, I had no idea how to handle it. No advice we received worked (in fact, a lot of it made it worse). We were at the end of our tether.
It was a really long, hard time that still makes me shudder when I look back on it.
This time jolted me to such an extent, though, that I buried myself deep into trying to understand her, and babies and children, better. And I’m eternally grateful to her now, for that testing time, because it led me on a real learning journey that eventually made me change dramatically my attitude towards children and how I wanted to raise mine.
How did we get to a place where, now, at 3.5, V tells us she’s tired and carries herself off to bed with her blanket? How did we get to a place where her 16 month old little sister sleeps all night happily on a floor bed and has never been in a cot?
Routine, Love, and Books.
Our routine I’ll save for another post, but it’s about taking the time to be habitual about pre-bed activities. We incorporate music and songs as much as possible so this time is enjoyable, positive, not a chore.
Love is all about patience and positivity – no negativity before bed if it kills us. And….
BOOKS! The right books before bed help little minds understand why they are on their own in the dark, they soothe and calm, and provide comfort. Bedtime is a time of natural reflection for us all, and we know how negative thoughts often take over in those minutes and hours before we sleep. The right books can fill minds with beautiful images and happy thoughts, which makes for deep and peaceful sleep!
These books are lovingly compiled. Believe me, I tried every book going. All the lists online seem to show a bunch of great bedtime books, but none of them help kids to understand what is expected at bedtime and why they have to go! Often, it’s not books labelled “Bedtime Stories” that are really useful at this time, so the only way I found these is to try about a million 🙂
Tell me Something Happy Before I Go to Sleep by Debi Gliori and Joyce Dunbar
Willa is sleepy, but she can’t sleep. When she asks Willoughby to tell her something happy, he leads her around the house to look at things that are waiting for her to wake up.
A Bed of Your Own by Mij Kelly
Suzy is trying to go to bed, but she keeps finding animals in her bed! She leads them all back to their beds and finally makes it to her own. A funny book that provides an all-important chuckle before bed (and the animal legs kicking around in bed reminded me of my own little monsters crawling in!)
Sometimes I like to Curl up in a Ball by Vicki Churchill
This appears on a few of my lists, because we love it. It’s a great first bedtime book before a calmer one, as it goes through some funny actions that my girls love to join in with, and ends up with Little Wombat curling up to go to sleep. We talk about how the girls have had a busy day like Wombat and now it’s time to curl up in a ball.