Do your kiddos struggle with going to sleep?
Out of my 4 children, I have 3 that struggle almost nightly with trying to go to sleep. As their homeschool mama who has been with them all day, I need them (oh so desperately!) to be in bed by 8:15 or 8:30.
My own introverted need to be alone has kicked into high gear by then, and I feel very, very done with the day.
But what about those 3 kiddos of mine that just can’t get to sleep?
I’d love to share with you a few strategies that have worked fairly well for us, and maybe you can put them in your arsenal of mama tricks as well.
Please keep in mind that I have no experience with sleep issues besides my own kiddos. If you can use one of these ideas, go for it!
Why They Can’t Go to Sleep at Night
A few weeks ago, I came back across Colleen’s post on whether or not gifted children need less sleep. Colleen does an excellent job of helping parents think through the root cause of their child’s sleeplessness.
The characteristic that I find in 2 of my children is that they just can’t turn their brains off at nighttime. In fact, to my older child I’ll jokingly say, “It’s time to turn off your brain now!” And he’ll reply, “But, Mama, I just can’t!”
And I don’t for one second doubt that he truly cannot. The questions that he asks me at 9:30 at night are just amazing. Theological questions, ideas about the underground house he wants to build, his latest LEGO idea…the list goes on and on.
He wants to go to sleep, he just can’t get his brain to cooperate.
I have a daughter that also struggles a bit with turning her brain off at bedtime. She tends to lean towards anxiety, however, so that’s a bit of a different issue.
Every possible spooky scenario flows through her brain 100 miles an hour, and she has a terrible time trying to turn it down a notch or two.
My other daughter doesn’t have trouble turning off her brain, but is just a night owl. She would simply rather stay up late at night and sleep late in the morning.
Some nights, it’s late when my children finally go to sleep.
I consistently remind them of strategies to help them help themselves when it comes to sleep.
They Think About Something They Love
Before children, I worked 12-hour nights as a Registered Nurse. One particular morning after getting into bed, my brain was mulling over the events of the night at work and I just couldn’t go to sleep.
My husband was walking out the door to go to work, but he took just a few minutes to hear me complain about not being able to rest.
And then he gave me the best idea:
Why don’t you think about putting ornaments on the Christmas Tree? Unwrap each ornament box and then think about where you’ll put it on the tree.
Well, that was just brilliant, let me tell you!
One of my favorite things to do is to decorate the tree and it’s a rather monotonous activity – just perfect for helping me go to sleep.
Since that time 13+ years ago, I cannot tell you the Christmas Trees I’ve decorated in my mind as I’ve drifted off to sleep.
I’ve made this into a game for my own children. I encourage them to think about the things that they love to do, and then go through it step by step.
Here are a few ideas that they think about:
♥ Taking a hike in the woods and thinking of each item they might discover: a bee hive, butterflies, a path that leads to ?, a bird’s nest, a small spring where you can gather rocks
♥ Going on vacation – what we will do there, what we’ll see, all of the things that they’ll pack in their suitcases
♥ Building a LEGO town – what kinds of building will go in the town, how to construct a LEGO car, where they’ll put the LEGO people
♥ All of the Bible verses they know – my children are in AWANAs, so they know a lot of Bible verses! They recite them mentally until they’re fast asleep. This one works for me too!
We Do the Same Routine Each Night
For my daughter that has trouble with anxiety at night, I sit and sing her a song while I rub her arm. This helps her calm down and get a bit settled from the day. I also pray over her.
If I forget to do any of these things, she quickly lets me know! She thrives on the predictability of this routine.
They Listen to an Audio Book
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Getting lost in the story of an audio book seems to help calm down my girls.
I do make sure they go to bed just a few minutes early if they’re going to listen to their CDs for awhile. 15-20 minutes is usually all it takes before they’re good and sleepy!
They Read Before Bed
My older two kiddos (10 and 8) read a good bit before bed.
Reading a good book makes them sleepy and tells their bodies it is time to be still and wind down.
I frequently catch my kiddos reading at night by flashlight, and I’m usually okay with that as long as it’s not too late. I do want them to get adequate sleep so they’ll feel good and not be grumpy, but I also understand that they might not be sleepy when they lie down.
What strategies help your children go to sleep?