By Michelle Nolan
While I know how frustrating and hard it can be for mothers to get their children to bed, I have a few tips that really worked for my two children, making bedtime a dream.
My first tip is to start very young, I mean from birth. They were in their own cots. As hard as it was not to want to snuggle with them, at about 10 weeks they were sleeping  soundly on their own.
Second is keep a regular sleep routine. This may consist of dinner, bath, story, bed, same time every day.
This way the child knows  that when the routine starts they are prepared and know what’s expected of them . When the kids were babies, I put them into a sleep suite and keeping their comfort toy and dummy only for bed time, this helped to sooth them and gave them something to look forward to.
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Third is to look out for tired signs, pulling of the ears, yawning, grottiness, general whinging or clinging. I read my kids by these signs, and it really helped with nap times when they were younger, knowing when they needed to go down and setting their own routine which I adhered to. If you miss that window, you may end up with an overtired and emotional little one who will be a handful to manage.
Fourth, don’t feed your kids too late. It’s a good idea to have their dinner ready as early as 5pm if say their bedtime is 6-6.30pm. This ensures they are not too tired to eat and if you’re running a bit behind on the dinner part, you will still have enough time for the bed routine.
Fifth, keep things calm after dinner, no boisterous games, or excitable company over, this will only make it harder to settle your kids for bed. Try some relaxing music, puzzles or stories on the lead up to the bed routine.
Sixth and last is: don’t put them to bed too late. When I put my kids into bed, after the routine is done, I tuck my 4 year old into bed and kiss her goodnight, wish her a gentle goodnight and shut the door. She’s been doing this routine for so long now, there’s no need for any further intervention. With my 1 year old son, I put him into his sleep suite, give him his dummy, whilst holding him, we close his blinds together, we put his music box on and I lay him down with a kiss and a goodnight. Then out the door I go.
If he cries, it may only take a minute then he’s settled himself off. I will only go in if I feel he is really unsettled, usually after 10 minutes to check his nappy, I will pick him up give him a cuddle, he stops crying I give a quick smell of the nappy area followed by a kiss and back into bed. If he continues to cry which is unlikely, I will go in every 10 mins to pick up, give a quick cuddle, then once he’s calmed down it’s back to bed. Eventually he will tire and settle.
These tips really worked for me, I think persevering at the start is essential, kids will get the knack of self settling in a short period of time and it’s best for everyone in the long run.
Michelle Nolan

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