So you’ve had a kid, been through the mill with said first kid; You got this one to in a great bedtime routine, sleeps sans any sleep props, through the night for 10 or more hours straight (or whatever you deem decent)- and now you’re feeling like king-freakin-ding-a-ling of your very own baby sleep championships! And so you should, all ye’ weary ones! Those parents with the Droopy dog dark circles and bags under the eyes know very well that you deserve that gold freakin’ star! I mean at the end of the day, when one’s energy is waning, one still can’t help but feel like you’re winning when bedtime routine goes smoothly, right?
So, you’ve got the whole shebang of getting your one kid into bed, down pat…But now, what about two…or more kids? Yeah, let’s just throw that spanner in the works with “more”, shall we! I think it makes huge sense to ask this question, for it was certainly something I asked myself whilst even just pregnant with our second baba. How was I going to do it?!
Because kid one became such a breeze by then.I mean, with us Morgan-Lee was piper-down between 7:00 and 7:30pm, and then we had rest of the evening all to ourselves…#whoopwhoop! To sleep, to read, to chat, to whatever it was that we chose to do, as opposed to basically being held hostage by a cute little baba who needed her dummy to sleep, and kept losing it every 20 to 30 minutes….throughout the night. Yeah, that was really, really…really boring. But we did a bit of an intervention, and got our sanity back, with a schweet & flexible bedtime routine in place.
But two? Hmmm…
Parker-Grace then arrived, so we bascially took the divide and conquer route: we each took a kid for bedtime routine. Boom- simple. Parky was also eventually sleep trained- because she unequivaly showed me that she was not going to be one of those babies. You know, that just slept…Definitely not like those sleepy sugar lumps in the magazines we all see…and certainly not like some of our own very lucky-fish friends’ babas. And both her sleep and my health was suffering for it.
So with divide and conquer in place, things were still fine in the Porter Abode, because bedtime was done separately with the girls.
That is, until one day, Parker heard her sissy laughing too lekker with her daddy in the other bedroom. (I normally remind Mike to dial down the playfulness come bedtime, but I also know it’s hard to resist, given our limited time we have with them during the week.) Parker immediately requested she goes to investigate whats up -so much could not be had without her. So off we went and did our routine in the same room that night.
Mike and I at first loved it, ’cause that meant we got a headstart on time togetherness for the night, and it honestly was pretty great for us to all be together. Girls loved it too and ever since, have refused to do bedtime apart. Which was cool…for a time… like a minute.
But then we started slipping… we were tired. We have heavy days at work, and yet we also sometimes felt like we’re just not getting enough time with our kids…I leave before the crack of dawn for work, and then come home to cook dinner, squeeze in park play or games of chase or something active, get kids back inside and settled for dinner, then get through dinner unscathed, then bath time and bedtime…All sqeezed into that tiny slice of the day I have with them. And sometimes because Mike and I were so tired, trying to control them and keep them in line suddenly became so hard. And we often didn’t have energy for anymore. So yeah, sometimes and in fact, up until a few months ago, a lot of the time, I had been letting the time slip by, and bedtime was pushed back more often. And before I knew it, it felt like whatever good routine we had put in place was gone, and hey, oh look(!) your whole evening is gone too! Poof!
And what was worse, was that I knew whatever extra time we got with them, from the now regular later bedtimes was in fact NOT quality time in retrospect. They were well past their thresholds, and you know, so were we. This turned our previously easy bedtime routines into more of a frustrating negotiation process. And lets face, when you’re tired yourself, your negotiation game is not that strong.
So, because I do,oh so love my evenings, and honestly don’t want to spend all of it crazily carolling my kids into bed, like trying to herd cats. I needed our 30 minute routine back…Or maybe, more accurately, 35 minutes- max! Either way, I wanted the order restored to our evenings. And as such, I tried to put a few things back in place, with just a few tweaks here and there, knowing that I’ll never be able to separate them again for bedtime routines.
So I’ve picked up a few tips along the way as to how to streamline things, and hopefully lessen the possibility of walking down the longer crazy path. Keep in mind, these are things that have worked for us, and I have shared them with you here, just in case you’re looking for a similar solution:
1. Be prepared. Get everything you’d need in advance: This applies to so many things in life, and bedtime is no exception. Being prepared before you start truly does streamline matters. I set out the dressing area in the bedroom with everything I’d need: Nappies, bum cream, PJ’s, lotion, etc.
Even get older one(s) involved in getting things together. Morgan-Lee already knows what is needed, and she gets to choose what jammies she wants for the night. Also I ensure Parker’s Milkies is ready – so all typical bedtime things is right at hand when I need it.
Going into the bathroom, be sure you have all you’ll need there as well. For eg. Towels, soaps,toothpaste, toothbrushes,etc.I also bring their gowns in if it’s particularly chilly.
2. Bath together –duh! Yeah, maybe DUH for plenty of you out there, but not so much for us. Communal bathing only became a recent thing for us – like last year. (when Parker could deal) But bathing together is far quicker, and water savy! Although you may be sharper than us, and already know that! 🙂
3. Get a timer for the bath– I set a maximum of 10 min on bathtime – no matter what. And I made sure my kiddies understood this. I mostly average about 7 minute baths, and trust me, they get alot of fun in that time, and do not protest getting out. I usually wash them in the first few minutes and then leave them to play. (while I get their toothbrushes loaded with toothpaste.) I also keep them updated about time left to play, with the crucial two- and one-minute warning. I found that his helps them prepare to transition to the next step.
4. Hand out tasks: As mentioned earlier, rope your kids in and enable them as age-appropriately as possible. Get them to do more things for themselves, which would now free you up a bit as you now don’t have to be invovled in every aspect. Yes, it does take some doing in the beginning, but as with most worthwhile things in life, it pays off in the end! You’re not only freeing up time for yourself, but you’re also helping them develop some simple life skills that will equate to some pretty independent kids pretty quickly. Bonus points for you!!!
5. Dry off time When that buzzer on the timer goes, drying off time, no matter what! I normally pick the one who in that moment, is most likely to do the most damage if left in the bath any longer. Its a quick dry and I wrap em in/pass them their gown. In the mean time, I get the next one out of the bath and place them close together. However, if both are looking like the usual suspects to cause the most havoc in the bath, I grab them both out, one by one and place them close togethr, so that I could do dry them off together or very soon in succession.
6. Brush up them pearlies: I then pass them their already loaded toothbrushes and we brush. This usually takes me about 3 minutes.
7. Jammie time: They’re closely together so that I can keep an eye on both of them. We lotion it up – Morgan-Lee can do this herself, as well as dress herself. I nappy-fy my baby and get her into her jammies too.
8. Story time and setting limits: Once the eldest is dressed, she’s off to select a book that she wants. She also often comes back with a book for the younger one too – and magically seems to almost always know which book the younger one would want. Now, before, I could give them a selection of 3 books and they could only choose from those 3 only. But Parker has realised what a forceful character she has, and has thus also empowered Morgy to feel the same. Gone is my storybook-dictatorship! So, now storytime is done from their rather extensive book collection. But, here’s the syncher: I’ve set a timer to this too. (Otherwise it could go on forever) So bascially from the time they are dressed they get 2 minutes to select a book each.
We now all climb into Morgy’s bed. (Actually granny’s bed, but she has claimed it as her own.) Once more, I set limits: 3 minutes to read on your own. (sometimes they get 5)
(In case you’re wondering if Im doing my children short on reading, the thing is, my kids read all day long, or at least, at any chance they can get. In fact, they could be at a party, and will inevitably start to wonder inside to try and find where the books are. And will get me to read to them in the day as well.)
At this point you’re (I am) in the home stretch…(and should be at or just under the 30 minute mark)
Then, in our house it’s only one longish story (think Gruffalo), or two short stories-max.
That should take you to about 35
However, on hair washing days, I’ve found that I tend to add on about 15 minutes extra to that time.
Then its night-night hugs and kisses for the sisters, Parker switches off Morgy’s bedroom light and is swept off to her own room. She then switches off her own light, while I sing one particular song thats pretty short (and Ive sung to her ever since she was born, and which she now sings with me.) Put her down with her blankie, prays, night-night kisses and out I walk. I then walk back to Morgy’s room to tuck in properly, pray, kisses, beeeeeg hugs(as she calls them) and out I walk.
And then? Well, then the night is officially mine!!! To do anything I want to…which is mostly to be boring 🙂 But, hey, I get to choose that!
Now keep in mind, time may vary slightly day to day, as some delays may happen here and there. But the point is to keep the delays as minimized as posssible.
And the basic take-home is:
- -Plan ahead and be prepared.
-Streamline as much as possible.
-Get the kids to do more for themselves as far as possible.
And because it’s routine, they know what’s next. I’ve in fact found that they tend to follow it automatically pretty soon. Even on those days that I may be having a brain-gone-fishing day,they’ll nudge and guide me along to the next step, ’cause they know what’s up. (Thanks, Kids.)
Keep in mind, if your kids never had a routine to begin with, then you may obviously receive some resistance when trying to implement new routines. Its all par for the course. As with anything worth doing in this world: keep at it and be consistent.
So, it could be that you need to do the bedtime routine alone out of necessity – like when partner is at class, studies, or maybe it’s a case of single parenting. Or maybe your trying to support each other in ensuring you each still grow as individuals so you create the space for your partner to enjoy their hobbies, while you handle bedtime. Or maybe you just want to streamline your evening duties, so one does bath and bedtime, while the other cleans up the kitchen and lounge. Whatever your reason, I hope this post helps you find your groove in managing to get more than one kid into bed smoothly and easily.
Here’s to quick and easy bedtime routines, and owning the night again!Have fun! x