Bedtime routine for siblings is our topic of focus for this week. When you’ve got more than one child and you are trying to juggle that bedtime routine and sometimes it just feels you are trying to do something for one and then you need to go to the other and then this one needs you and that one needs you. So of course it can all just feel too much. Well, don’t panic, we’re going to get that all streamlined for you and make it so that it works!
Now, this is going to be particularly helpful for those of you who are usually doing the bedtime routine with more than one child by yourself. It is a little bit easier when you have another pair of hands on deck. So if you have your partner, your spouse, or another family member or somebody that can help you out, then, of course, it can help. Because one could be reading a bedtime story with one child while the other is making sure that the other one’s having a bath or brushing their teeth or whatever it might be. So of course it is easier when there are more than one parent or caregiver to lead the bedtime routine. But if you are on your own, and I’m sure all of you will be or have been at some stage or another, it is a juggle.
There are things you can do to make that easier, and this is my advice as a mum whose children are 21 months apart, so I’ve juggled this from babies/toddler time right through to nine, 11 year old children. I know what this is like, both doing it by myself and doing it with my husband to help. So I completely know where you’re coming from.
One of my top tips for you is getting them ready for bed at the same time. Now, they do need to be age appropriate, there’s no point in asking your 15 year old to get ready for bed at the same time as your two year old. That’s quite an extreme example, but be sensible with that. More often than not, even if you’re talking about a two year old and a seven year old, even if their bedtime might be slightly separate, there’s still no reason why they can’t get ready for bed at the same time.
And here’s why. If you do the bedtime routine at the same time, so they go to the bathroom, there’s bathroom activity, maybe a bath or a shower, whatever it might be or a wash, there’s probably teeth brushing involved, and getting changed, getting ready for bed in the bathroom. If that stuff is done at the same time, even then if one is going to go to bed and the other is going to go and read a book quietly or do a puzzle, that’s absolutely fine. But what it means is the bedtime routine has begun for both of them.
When your juggle is more with two very little ones, that’s when it is the hardest and the biggest struggle. So if you are talking about a very young baby and older baby or young toddler and it is a big juggle, what can you do when you physically need to be holding the baby? How do you do that on your own?
Let’s start with bath time, if you can have a toddler safely in a bath, you are right there by their side, and you’ve got a baby bath next to the big bath and you can be bathing baby there with one hand, you are also there in case toddler needs you at the same time, that’s one way you can do it. You can also get safe baby bathing equipment that you can put into the bath next to the toddler and then you can bathe both of them at the same time. Or you can let them go in one at a time, you can use a baby bouncer seat or a baby safe play mat zone where you can have baby safely in an area on the floor near you and be hands on with one. And then you can swap them over that way if you need to. But having them in close proximity is going to definitely help you because then you have your eyes and your hands there to keep both of them safe.
Of course safety is the main thing when you’re juggling little ones and water and bath times especially. This is if you are bathing them both, you might not be – that’s also easy then to have them in teh same space and one in while the other is happily distracted but near you and safe.
Once bathtime is done, you’re going to get them ready and changed for bed. What can the older one do for themselves? That’s a great time to encourage that, make sure it is an encourage rather than commanding to them. You don’t want to come across as if it’s a case of, “I’m too busy with the little one, you need to do it yourself.” That will create jealousy and resentment. But just, “Oh wow. You managed to put that on yourself.” And looking at the little one, “You’ll be able to do that one day when you are bigger.” Making it very positive and reinforcing that positive encouragement for the older one. “Oh, you put your pajamas on by yourself, well done. Can you get your toothbrush?” All that positivity around it will encourage them further and of course, you’re there and you can help both if they need it.
Now for the tricky bit, once they’re going to bed. You’re going from the bathroom activity to the bedroom and you are in the bedroom. Now, this could be siblings in the same room, which we talked about recently, or it could be that they’re in different rooms. Whatever that looks like, decide who needs your attention first. Who do you need to put to bed first? This is where it can be a bit of a question. Because if you have a toddler that settles or preschooler or a young child that settles quite well to sleep and a younger one, a baby even, that maybe needs more help from you, maybe you are using my fade out approach and you need to be sat there with them, then put the easier one, the older one to bed first.
Baby can be in a bouncy chair, maybe a bouncy chair or a safe seat or something within your eye. This means that you can then sit with the older one, do a bed time story, say good night, tuck them in. So they’ve had the turn from you, that one on one time and then you can take the baby on through to the baby’s room and do the fade out approach and implement the sleep plan that you’re doing with them. That can be one way around.
The other way is if the baby is fairly easy to put to bed, you can give your toddler a couple of books or a puzzle, again have them in earshot, even maybe in eyeshot, but in a space of their own whilst you then put the other one to bed, get them settled. And once they’re settled, then you can go and take yourself to the other one and give them your one-on-one time.
Always try to make it one then the next rather than trying to do it all at once. It will just fall apart and feel overwhelming for you and neither one of them really gets the attention they need. And that can leave them feeling like it’s rushed, which could lead to not being very well settled as well. So giving them that time with you, they can wind down and settle in nicely. So one then the next and I hope that really helps you with your bedtime routine strategy. Of course, this thing goes on to more than two children. It could be three children, four children, five children, just add it on and make sure that each one it’s an age appropriate approach.
I hope that helps you to get a great routine going that feels less like you are juggling and more like you are staying in control.
Take care and sleep well.
If you want to learn more about any of the sleep training methods mentioned above, book a free Discovery call today to find out how we can help you and your little ones sleep better.