Bedtime Etc!

August 23, 2022

Bedtime Update

I owe you all an update on bedtime. I don’t necessarily feel like I can close the book on this chapter, but I do feel like I can say that things have improved immensely!

Things we did:

  • Reviewed in detail with all 3 kids what the bedtime schedule is – lying with each kid x 10 minutes after reading books to G. I presented this with the air of “this is just how we are doing weeknight bedtime this year.” No room for debate . . .
  • Stopped screen time during the week. (Not going to lie, I miss the quiet hour or so after dinner. But for now this sacrifice feels worth it.)
  • Continued my suboptimal behavioral reinforcement sticker chart. Even though I agree more timely rewards would be better, I just decided to stick with it since I had already started + laid down the law. Thus far there has been one earned reward which we went to get a Target this past weekend. The next reward is after 10 nights.
  • Did the “boringly walk her back to room” method 1-2 nights. (I believe 2 nights was all it took?!). There was some crying and she did not get stickers those nights, but it didn’t take THAT long either night for her to fall asleep.
  • Started school, which requires a 6:45 am wakeup and is generally pretty tiring.

Between all of the above, I am amazed to say all 3 kids were asleep at 8:30 last night and G is now consistently staying in her room after 10 minutes with me, and falling asleep on her own. Unfortunately there are a lot of variables that changed so it is hard to know exactly what worked! But I’m just happy it has so far.

And the tooth fairy has been busy . . .

Both A&G lost their first teeth before age 5, and C right after turning 5 – I guess we have some very early tooth-shedding genes in the family! G is growing up fast . . .

Off to run. I am TIRRRRRRED. I think it may be the magnesium/riboflavin/coQ10 supplement recommended by the headache specialist. I will give it a few more days because maybe it’s just the start of the school year etc, but I don’t know – I’m actually extra sleepy (but do not actually want to spend any more time sleeping . . . )


  • Reply CBS August 23, 2022 at 7:56 am

    Back to school really seems to help. T just started his first year of school last week and has been asking to go upstairs to read stories at 6:40, I think the bike commute and new routine are wearing him out. We have 20+ minutes of stories (currently working our way through the Unicorn Rescue Society – highly recommend) and then cuddle him for a few chapters of his audiobook, do a DIY bodyscan meditation (my husband hates me for introducing this to our routine), happy thoughts, and a song. It takes an age, but normally we come back in for one cuddle and that’s him down for the night. I quite like the extra snuggles.

    • Reply Helena Murphy August 23, 2022 at 1:50 pm

      CBS, could you tell us more about the body’s an meditation?! Love the idea.

      • Reply Helena Murphy August 23, 2022 at 1:51 pm

        *body scan (autocorrect 🙄)

      • Reply CBS August 24, 2022 at 4:08 am

        It’s really good, we start with the toes and work our way up so “take 3 deep breaths and feel yourself getting heavier, now relax your toes, your feet, your heels, your ankles”. When we get to the head, I do right eyebrow, left eyebrow, right eye, left eye, as that moving your attention back and forth across the body is supposed to be good for your brain. Maybe woo but I do a yoga nidra class on Zoom and my brain is markedly better when I do it regularly.

        Some of the podcasts/sleep stories do something similar, but I quite like doing it myself, so I can put a tiny bit of pressure on each body part, and breathe deeply so he can match my breathing. I feel like it’s this really lovely moment of connection.

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns August 23, 2022 at 10:20 am

    I am glad that bedtime is going so much better! We had an epic struggle for many months and then it magically got better this summer. Now I don’t dread bedtime like I used to although I still really enjoy the nights where I don’t have to do bedtime (we take turns since we are both home at bedtime nearly all the time). I much prefer weekend bedtimes, though, because he still naps at school which I hate but they refuse to change their policy. I understand that the teachers need a break but I wish they would let our son sit at a table and read or work on a puzzle. They let him in his last room but in this room the teacher won’t allow that.

    Hopefully the no screens will be easier when the weather cools off for you! We are in our prime weather seasons so if it’s not too hot/humid, we go for a family walk after dinner and that is SO MUCH BETTER than playing in the basement.

    Crazy that G lost a tooth already! Our 4yo had a collision with a kid last winter and at his last dentist visit, they did an x-ray and it showed that the root is severed, or something like that? So if it doesn’t fall out on it’s own and starts to bother him, he may need dental surgery to remove the tooth and root. Really really hope it doesn’t come to that!!

  • Reply Grateful Kae August 23, 2022 at 11:32 am

    Glad you are having success with the bedtime issues!! Those are the worst, bc by that time of day you are just DONE.

    On a semi-related note, I’ve been thinking a lot about different parenting challenges and how much I think some of them are cultural! We’ve been in Mexico the last couple weeks (heading home to U.S. today), and I’ve been talking with my in-laws and others about things like this. In families here, especially in the older days, where people had 8, 10 or even 15 kids, there is no way any mom or dad was sitting in their kids rooms waiting for them to go to sleep! Lol!! People here seem amused by the long drawn out American bedtime routines, the obsession with reading to them every.single.night, etc. My husband says his mom would just put them in bed and that was it, and he doesn’t think she ever read to him in his life! Ha. When our kids were littler and we would come to Mexico, many times I felt a little bit “judged” for being ridiculous for insisting my kids went to bed by 8:30… here it seems the kids often stay up until whenever! Like we were at a gathering the other day and no joke, our friend’s 4 year old was up playing with toys nearby in the living room until almost 3 am! The 5 year old conked out on the couch around midnight and no one batted an eye.

    I think I probably parent similarly to you, also born and raised in a smaller American family, and I feel like we had our share of bedtime issues as well (including one who would come into our room in the middle of the night for YEARS…omg I’m glad that finally ended.) I have often wondered if somehow my parenting style “caused” some of these issues, or if we coddle our kids or what?! I don’t honestly know. I wonder if there are any books on different cultural parenting styles and outcomes… I think that would be fascinating to read about.

    • Reply Nadine August 23, 2022 at 3:03 pm

      There is a book called bringing up bebe about French parenting styles.
      I have had similar feelings about picky eating. I studied abroad in India in College and was fascinated to see even little babies eat ridiculously spicy food. It must be our parenting styles that makes kids such picky eaters. While I had big intentions of getting my kid to eat everything it hasn’t entirely worked out that way.

    • Reply Heather August 24, 2022 at 8:42 am

      I definitely think that Americans, especially those forty and under, are definitely part of a generation where kids are coddled. It’s like the whole push of talking to our kids about their feelings instead of just disciplining them when they need it sometimes. When we were younger and didn’t go to bed or came out of our room, we would get in trouble.

      As a teacher, I’ve seen how parents have changed over the last fifteen years.

    • Reply Diane August 24, 2022 at 10:20 pm

      There’s one part in Michaeleen Doucleff’s book Hunt, Gather, Parent where she observes how the Inuit families that she immerses herself with don’t really bother with formal bedtimes for kids. The kids are just allowed to stay up and they to go to bed when they are tired. The whole idea was fascinating to me. I certainly have nights when I can’t deal with trying to get my kids to go to bed when they don’t want to, so I just let them stay up – but this is always after we make an attempt at the bedtime routine.
      At any rate, I thought the book an interesting glimpse into parenting in non-Western cultures, and some of the parenting lessons Doucleff learned from living with these communities have stuck with me. (At the same time, I did find that she idealized these cultures and there really wasn’t really an acknowledgement of their patriarchal structures, structures which I think manifested itself in ways that would be problematic for me. But I guess it’s a parenting book, not one on gender equality.)

      • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger August 25, 2022 at 7:53 am

        Do the inuit kids have to get up for school? I do want to read that book but . . . not sure ‘whenever they want’ as bedtime would work in our household.

  • Reply Jordan August 23, 2022 at 12:08 pm

    Reading Grateful Kae’s comment reminds me of what my parents are always saying about when I was a kid. I am an only child and they said I just didn’t have a bedtime, and they would read me books but then I’d eventually play and fall asleep either on the couch or in my bed. They are always asking how our bedtime routine takes so long. We have a 4 & 6 yr old and bedtime is a process. We’ve tried to shorten it to just the basics but the PJs/teeth/reading/songs/[return to bed when they get up multiple times] just takes awhile! We’ve tried my parents’ method but it just drives us crazy (and we can’t watch our grown up TV shows if the kids are around!!) so I envy that they were able to just be hands off without me bugging them all night…but who knows, we joke that grandparents only remember the easy things 🙂

  • Reply Beth August 23, 2022 at 4:28 pm

    I am so glad that the “boring walk back to bed” method has been helpful. Maybe we have similarly smart, feisty kids. 🙂

  • Reply Meri Paterson August 24, 2022 at 5:11 am

    I’m glad you’re seeing some success! My husband is of the parenting school that says if something isn’t working, make changes until it does. So he would count your experience as evidence. My instinct is usually to just bear it, which is less helpful. 😃

  • Reply Stephanie G. August 24, 2022 at 10:44 am

    I do wonder if some of these parenting styles work best in different family structures. As a family with parents who work outside the home, early bedtimes are a necessity since our days are long and fairly structured (school/after care).

    Also, maybe in other cultures the daily routine reflects this norm (like maybe school starts later)?

    And, just kid’s personalities.

    Interesting to think about!!

  • Reply Lee August 26, 2022 at 10:38 am

    Magnesium is wonderful for better sleep. Unfortunately, it plays havoc with my gut.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger August 26, 2022 at 11:17 am

      It also made me want to sleep all day .. not exactly what I was going for!

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