Baby E turned two a few months ago, and it seems to be true what they say about two year olds. As my husband says, she’s become a “two-nager”!!
One of the biggest changes I’ve noticed is the recent battle for bedtime. We are anxious for a little bit of toddler-free time to unwind from the day, and she is anxious … well, anxious not to sleep!!
Two months into the “two-nager” years, I think I have gathered some useful tips for other parents who are in the trenches of the bedtime battle. Here are my 25 “simple” steps for getting your toddler to bed:
1. First up, bath time! Spend 20 minutes convincing your toddler to have a bath. Finally get in the bath yourself, and pretend to be splashing and playing, and having a wonderful time. Watch your toddler strip off their clothing as they climb in to join the fun.
2. Spend 20 minutes convincing your toddler to get out of the bath.
3. Sing “This is the way we dry” to convince your toddler to dry off before PJ time.
4. Put on your toddler’s diaper. Well, first you must get your toddler onto the diaper mat. Try many tactics including bribery, “let’s see how fast we can change your bum”, to “let’s show teddy how to change a diaper” (this last one currently works in our house – probably only for the next day or so).
5. Once you finally get the diaper on, your toddler will inevitably poop. Repeat step 4.
6. Present the PJs to your toddler. Wait while your toddler decides on a different, more suitable, pair of PJs. Never mind that it’s 25 degrees and they have chosen a long sleeved shirt and pants.
7. Encourage your toddler to choose 3 bedtime stories. Wait while your toddler painstakingly examines every book on the shelf to decide on their three choices.
8. When your toddler announces their need to pee on the potty like a big girl, weigh the options in your head. As much as you want your toddler to be potty trained, is it worth the delay in bedtime? If it’s a false alarm, the smooth and efficient bedtime routine will have been disrupted. Yet, if your toddler speaks the truth, do you really want to discourage a potty success?
9. Wait while your toddler sits on the potty, but does not pee (although she makes a peeing/water rushing sound with her voice). Usher your toddler back to her bedroom and put her diaper back on (see step 4).
10. Climb onto the bed with your toddler. Wait while your toddler decides which pillow to use tonight.
11. Wait while your toddler decides which animal to snuggle tonight. Almost always, the animal of choice is not on the bed, and must first be located.
12. Begin reading the first bedtime story. Stop briefly when the chosen stuffed animal “falls” off the bed and must be retrieved.
13. Pause again when your toddler exclaims that their feet are no longer covered by the blanket. Solve this crisis by giving up your small portion of the blanket.
14. Stop while your toddler decides to switch blankets.
15. Begin reading the second bedtime story. Realize that the chosen story is the longest story available in the child’s room. Attempt to read quickly, and skip sections without the toddler noticing.
16. Pause to flip back two pages when your toddler insists that a section of the story was somehow missed.
17. Read the third bedtime story, stopping at regular intervals to remind your toddler that this is the last story before lights out.
18. Finish the third bedtime story, and tell your toddler it is time to turn out the light. Field questions concerning a fourth bedtime story, and again reiterate the routine.
19. Encourage your toddler to “blow” out the light together. Count “1, 2, 3 blow”, and wait for your toddler to flick off the light switch. Toddler announces that it “didn’t work”.
20. Recount to three, and successfully “blow” out the light together.
21. Agree with your toddler that it is now “dark”, but reassure your toddler that you can still see each other.
22. Encourage your toddler to curl up on the bed. Discourage your toddler of the need for a quick drink of water before bed.
23. Sing desired lullaby to your toddler.
24. Adjust your singing to suit your audience’s wishes (louder, softer, higher, lower, a different key, etc).
25. Tell your toddler that you love them, and give them a hug and kiss. Tell them you will see them in the morning (or more likely in a few hours!)
And that should do it! Follow these 25 simple steps and your toddler should be asleep in no time. Or well, they will fall asleep eventually, they can’t hold out forever!