Welcome to our newest blog series, Mom-hood! I am so excited to share the advice, encouragement, and stories of some amazing moms with you! Every guest blogger is not only a mother, but a business-savvy individual who is raising their tribe the best way they know how. I hope this series is not only relatable and inspiring, but offers comfort in knowing that every mother doesn't have it all figured out, and we're all just doing the best we can with what we're given!
This week we are featuring Noelle Bryant, owner of Coastal Kids Clothing and founder of the site OhHappyPlay.com. With two little girls of her own, this momma's blog is where "KIDspiration" comes to life! With a little practice under her belt, Noelle chat about the *dreaded* bedtime routines, and how to finally get those little ones to count their sheep and drift off to sleep.
If you walk in my house past 7:30 pm, you’ll find dimmed lights, toys cleaned up and most importantly-- silence. My daughters, Joie (2) and Lola (9 months), will be fast asleep. I love my children more than life itself, but bedtime is business around here. After the kids are sound asleep, it's my husband and I’s time to be together. It’s our adult time. A time to just be us. It usually consists of a quiet dinner together (although as the girls get older this part will change), some sort of Netflix series’, and of course, wine! I guess you could say we “Netflix and Chill” but not the way the kids are using it these days! I know many fellow business owners will use this time to get orders done, respond to emails and organize without disruption. I get asked ALL the time: “How do you get them to sleep that early?” “Don’t they wake up super early with a bedtime like that?” AND my favorite: “My husband works late so I keep the kids awake to see their dad.” I could go on and on but I’ll spare you! The most important thing to know is that although I mentioned above all the reasons I love an early bedtime, it is actually more beneficial for your children to get to bed early than it is for your benefit.
- Routine/Constancy: Ok, so this isn't exactly a bedtime rule, but everything we do during the day leads up to their bedtime and staying consistent is KEY. Starting from the time we get up in the morning, we are on a schedule/routine with everything we do. This varies mildly from day to day depending on what we have going on, but for the most part, there are some certain inevitable constants that my girls can always expect to happen. And because of this there are very little surprises thrown their way, so they are always (for the most part) willing to go along with it. We rarely have tantrums when it comes to nap time or meal time etc. because the girls know exactly what to expect.
- An early bedtime: As stated before, If you have a child waking early, waking often, hard to get to bed, not able to keep focused, my biggest piece of advice I can offer is to get on a routine AND get those kids to bed at an early time. That chart above is a great example of bedtimes for your child’s age.
- Set specific time aside to wind down: Young or old, our bodies aren't designed to just be wide awake one minute then fall asleep the next just because its “bedtime.” We need to ease our way into it and if you want your little ones to doze off to sleep without a fight the best thing you can do is help them wind down before laying them in bed for the night. After dinner, there should be a designated time for this. Dim the lights, get cozy and most importantly, I highly suggest skipping the screen time. The National Sleep Foundation strongly urges against any electronics in children’s bedrooms and not using electronics before bed. They say that children who do so have a harder time inciting sleep and I quote: “have later weekday bedtimes, experience fewer hours of sleep per week and report more daytime sleepiness.” Basically, the bright screens and motion are very stimulating for our brains and it has an adverse effect when trying to get your little ones to sleep at night.
- Brush Teeth: From the moment our girls had teeth, we incorporated this into our routine so the girls can be use to the process.
- Pajamas: We let our oldest pick her own out. This gets her excited to be a part of the process and she knows that these are her bedtime clothes and that bedtime is near.
- Story time/Books: My husband started a great tradition of story telling. After we read some good night books, our oldest enjoys hearing “Princess Joie & Princess Lola” stories. They are different every time and we usually use this time to express some obedience guidelines/rules that we want her to follow as she grows. For example: Joie had a few days where she would walk over to her sister-- who started recently sitting unassisted—
and would push her right over. We would immediately express that “we don't push people in our family” and that it was not okay for her to do that. However, at 23/24 months old, she wasn't really mentally capable of processing it all, especially in the moment when she saw that by pushing her sister she would get a reaction out of mom/dad and in turn prompting her to do it again and again. We use our stories at night to explain again to her and out of the situation what are the proper ways to act. So that evening we talked about how “Princess Joie took being a big sister to Princess Lola very seriously and how she was always gentle with her baby sister and never wanted to hurt her or push her over etc” It may sound silly but by expressing this to her at a later time and not in the heat of the moment she was much more capable of listening to what we were trying to say and it really helped her in the days to follow to fight the urge to push her sister over. These stories are by far Joie’s favorite part of the night and we enjoy making them up as we go!
- Say thanks/prayer: Depending on your family and religion you can use this time to either say prayers or just say thanks for the people/family in your life and all your blessings.
- Lights out: Our youngest, Lola (9 months), will nurse to sleep at about 6:45pm then we put our oldest (2) to bed right after that, usually about 7pm. Our daughter prefers the door open. So, we turn out the lights and have a “stay in bed” rule: she will fall asleep playing with a few of her stuffed animals. Both girls sleep through the night until 7am. Lola still occasionally wakes up at about 10pm for a quick nursing session but that seems to be happening much less these days.