First off, let’s just acknowledge – one parent to another – that nothing is ever simple when it comes to getting toddlers to do what you want.
With that out of the way, these “simple” steps will work, but as with everything you do as a parent, you’re going to have to adjust your expectations based on your child. My first has been “sensitive” and “high needs” since he was a newborn, and everything related to sleep is an immense struggle.
My second child falls asleep in my lap while I’m reading him books. Same sex, same parents, just 22 months apart – it’s nothing I’m doing differently, they just are different, and that’s important to keep in mind any time you’re setting expectations at home.
If you’re part of a family that puts a premium on everyone sleeping in their own beds or at least going to sleep separately so the parents can have some time alone, getting your kid to go to sleep in their own bed at a decent hour is definitely something you’re interested in – so here are five steps toward making that happen.
#1. Have a routine, and stick to it.
It can include whatever you find winds your child down best, from baths to books to iPad time, it’s up to you. But do it every night, and when the routine is over, give your kiddo a hug and a kiss and say “goodnight, I need you to stay in your bed.”
That last part is key.
#2. Leave quickly.
Don’t respond to your kids screams or pleas or writhing or requests (this is the hardest part!).
#3. If they get up, put them back.
Walk them calmly back to their room, tuck them back in, kiss them, say “I need you to stay in your bed,” and get out of there again.
#4. Repeat until the blessed moment they conk out for good.
It might be several times the first night, but like we sleep training an infant, it gets easier. Don’t give up!
So, there you have it – it’s as easy (and as hard) as that. If your kids’ rooms are up a flight of stairs, you might want to just hang out up there the first couple of nights, unless you’re up for a quad workout.
Go forth and conquer, my friends, and keep your eye on the prize. There are so many good things to watch on Netflix if you can manage to reclaim your night after 8 p.m.