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Bedtime Routines: Who’s sleeping in my bed?

September 9, 2023

Snuggling up with my first born was the most peaceful thing I had ever experienced going into my early adulthood. The energy of pure innocence had a special way of permeating my soul. Time stood still. Nothing else mattered.

I was a young and single first-time mother and though bonding with my baby was easy for me, working full time for low wages and providing for both of us surely was not. There was nothing in the world more important to me than being a good mom. Most aspects of motherhood came naturally for me. I was so full of love, I didn’t question my intuition. With my baby as the center of my life and at the heart of all of my decisions, I didn’t have to question myself like I customarily did with every other aspect in my life. That is, until a couple of years later when my son was still sleeping in my bed with me and I started reading and hearing the buzz about how “bad” that was. Since I wanted nothing more than to be a really good mom, I read more on how to make the transition of getting my son into his own ‘big boy’ bed.

With full enthusiasm, our preparation started the process off great. I went out and bought him a very cool bright-red bunk bed with brand new mattresses so his cousins could spend the night, too. We adorned his new bed with eye-popping Dalmatian sheets, matching comforter set and snuggly stuffed animals. The ambience was topped off with the comfort of a dim glow from a nighttime lamp over by the window. He loved his new bed and we hyped it up for the first night on his own.

But alas, the hype didn’t last. Within minutes my son snuck out of his bed and toddled over to mine in the next room. I quietly got up and gently brought him back to his bed. A few minutes later I heard the pitter patter of little feet approaching my room again and again I walked him silently back to his bed, this time shutting the door. That was basically the end of peaceful nights in our little apartment. My son cried and wailed while I sat on the other side of the door praying he would go to sleep. But he was as tenacious as his mama and didn’t relent. Every ten minutes I opened the door and soothed him in his bed, then left the room shutting the door behind me. No sooner than hearing the click of the door latch did he start crying again for the duration of the next ten minutes I was out of sight. By then he was getting up from his bed and trying to open the door, but the childproof handles preventing his success and he sat at the door crying for me. I stayed the course following the books, head under my pillow fighting back my own tears. This persisted… all…. night… long. And every night for the next two weeks. It was torturous. I was a walking zombie astonished at his persistence and amazed with the fervor each night just as strong as the night before. He got to nap during the day while I worked, little bugger! I finally put an end to it.

I bet you’re expecting me to tell you that I magically figured out the secret to getting my son to acquiesce and that we slept happily ever after each night in our own beds from that night forward, but the truth of the matter is, it hurt me just as much as it hurt him. Why was I torturing us both just because some guy in some book somewhere, well, okay some doctors in many books out there were saying this was the healthy thing to do. It certainly didn’t feel healthy. Contrarily, it felt quite the opposite of healthy. To be honest, it’s probably some underlying trauma stuck in my son’s nervous system today 25 years later that we are all unaware of. (Dagger to my heart.)

No, I didn’t figure out the magic secret to getting him to sleep in his own bed after two years of sleeping in mine. I figured out my own secret, who gives a shit if he wants to sleep in my bed? I preferred him in my bed, too! I felt I could protect him better. I slept more soundly knowing exactly where he was, right next to me, and I knew exactly when he woke up. That’s what worked for us. A couple of years later, we naturally and gradually made the transition on our own time for him to start sleeping in his own bed. No fights. No fuss.

I had four more babies after meeting my now ex-husband. And I followed my heart again. My babies slept in my bed with me for the first year or two or more until we naturally decided we wanted to sleep separately. At times I had one baby in the bassinette next to me and one in the crib in the same room with us.

As they got older, we learned the importance of bedtime routines. We lived a fairly structured lifestyle as it was, with so many of us, it would have been complete chaos otherwise. When my oldest started school, bedtime routines were an integral part of our day usually starting at least an hour before their actual bedtime and consisted of wind down activities like showers and baths, preparing backpacks and clothes for the next day, reading and saying our prayers.

Personally, meditating didn’t become integrated in our daily habits until much later when I was going through the divorce. I can say with certainty, we would not have been so resilient and able to adapt and adjust the way we did through the following few years without this practice. The uncertainty, insecurities, the worry and anxiety we all felt was drastically alleviated through the regular practice of meditation. That is why I am such a huge promoter of meditation for kids today for everyday life.

Incorporating regular mindfulness and meditation practices into your kid’s bedtime routines serves as a wonderful way to wind down at the end of the day and prepare for a good night sleep while offering the opportunity for you to reflect on your day and connect.

I hope you enjoy the bedtime meditation link below, but before you do, please read more about the benefits of bedtime routines in general. The following is a compilation of information from multiple resources. And when you are done reading, I look forward to becoming part of your nighttime wind down whenever you need a little extra help preparing for bed.

Routines are incredibly beneficial for elementary-aged children. They provide structure, promote healthy habits, and contribute to overall well-being. Here are some key benefits:

  1. Consistency and Structure: Bedtime routines establish a consistent schedule, which helps children feel secure and understand what to expect each night. This structure can reduce anxiety and promote a sense of stability.
  2. Improved Sleep: Following a bedtime routine signals to the body that it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep. Consistently practicing a routine can help children fall asleep faster, experience better quality sleep, and wake up feeling refreshed.
  3. Relaxation and Calmness: A bedtime routine typically involves activities that promote relaxation, such as reading a book, taking a warm bath, or practicing deep breathing exercises. These activities help children unwind from the day’s activities and create a peaceful atmosphere for sleep.
  4. Enhanced Cognitive Functioning: A good night’s sleep is crucial for optimal cognitive functioning. By establishing a bedtime routine, children are more likely to get the recommended amount of sleep, which can improve attention span, memory, and overall cognitive performance.
  5. Emotional Well-being: Bedtime routines provide an opportunity for connection and bonding between parents and children. Engaging in activities like talking about the day, sharing stories, or expressing gratitude can foster a positive emotional connection and a sense of security.
  6. Healthy Habits: Bedtime routines often include habits like brushing teeth, washing up, and choosing comfortable sleepwear. By consistently practicing these habits, children develop good hygiene practices and learn the importance of self-care.
  7. Independence and Responsibility: Following a bedtime routine empowers children to take ownership of their own bedtime rituals. It teaches them responsibility and self-discipline, as they learn to complete tasks independently and prepare themselves for sleep.

Remember, every child is unique, so it’s important to tailor the bedtime routine to their individual needs and preferences. By establishing a consistent and enjoyable routine, you can help your elementary-aged child develop healthy sleep habits and set them up for success in various aspects of their life.

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