We really struggled with sleep and bedtime when my son was little. I say struggled, but the real struggle wasn't with sleep or bedtime,but without expectations and the expectations and advice we sought and received. We tried a lot of different things, and of course, it seemed like everyone we mentioned talked with had a different opinion of how to best care for our son.
I was teaching half time, and then full time. My wife stayed home during the school week and worked on weekends. Our son was awake for anywhere from 45 minutes to 3 hours, every night, waking up once, twice, thrice, ten times... It made working outside the home very hard.
As we began to cut back on nursing, and eventually to wean entirely, how to help our son to fall asleep became the focus of many discussions and much experimentation. Over the past two years, we have developed a routine that works for us, most of the time. I try to be flexible (not easy for me!) and since leaving full-time teaching, I have begun to be more relaxed about holding a hard line of what has to happen at bedtime. Sometimes, even if the routine has been perfect, and there was a nice warm bath after a nourishing dinner, after lots of outdoor time and after snuggles and stories and songs, sometimes he just isn't sleepy. That's hard, especially when the next morning seems awfully close, and I know we'll have to be up early. But I am trying to let go of the rules a little and just see my son, to see what he needs, and to meet him where he is.
I know other families have had a long journey with bedtime. The transitions from sleep to waking and back again are the hardest, I think, for young children to learn. I am so eager to share our routine with you, and to give you some new ideas to make evenings sweeter and more happy for your children and for you. My Magical Bedtime package will be available June 15, and it will include tips, tricks, tales, and tasty tidbits. I'll be drawing from my experience as a mother, a teacher, and a parent educator, and from the wisdom of wonderful teachers and parents who have inspired me. You'll learn how to use stories, songs, and the magic of environment to create a peaceful transition to dreamland for your child.
Don't think that my struggle is over, that every bedtime is now a joy, and that my son invariably sleeps through the night, nor that we never have tears or tantrums! But with these tools in my back pocket, I can usually find a way to smooth the path a bit, and I know that part of the magic of bedtime,is that it always comes again the next day, and we get to try anew.
So, June 15! I am so excited!
Sara is a storyteller, writer, artist, teacher, wife, mother, and singer living in Minnesota. I write about storytelling, and about living a life with stories.