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    Going Back to Bed

Now that your toddler has graduated from a crib to a toddler “big kid” bed, you can’t seem to keep them there. No matter how many kisses you give or how many times you say goodnight, this little face keeps popping up next to the couch while your in the middle of your HBO special. They’ve already had a drink of water, went to the bathroom twice, and you’ve narrated no less than 3 bedtime stories. You’re exhausted and craving some much needed me-time, and your little one is not about to allow it. Just one more, last kiss goodnight.  We know from experience that allowing this to continue, will set you up for years of the same. Teach them from the beginning that once they are in bed, they are expected to stay there, with a few special exceptions (toilet run, feeling sick, bad dream, etc.).

        The best approach to a night-time tip-toer is to set a routine and stick to it. Have a checklist, preferably posted where your child can see it, of things that need to be done in order to get ready for sleep. Include items on your checklist that would normally prompt a 9:37pm meeting in the hallway.

A sample checklist might include:
     •  Bath time
     •  Story time
     •  Brushing teeth
     •  Putting on pajama’s
     •  Picking out a stuffed animal
     •  Last trip to the toilet & hand washing
     •  Saying goodnight to family members, pets, etc.
     •  Saying prayers
     •  Getting tucked in

If you stand your ground and stick to the routine, your child will associate these activities with the approach of sleepy time. When they poke their adorable little heads out of their room past bedtime, gently tell them that this is the time they need to be in bed, and that whatever it is they need should have already been taken care of. Turn them around quickly and unceremoniously. Send them or place them back in their beds. If your child is getting up and roaming during the night, you may want to consider placing a baby gate in front of their doorway, if only at night. Hopefully, you’ve hung onto that baby monitor. Toddlers are resourceful and sneaky when they want to be. It’s never a one night fix, and there will always be nights that they’ll be awake when you really need to be sleeping. Soon enough you’ll master the art of getting your toddler to go back to bed and staying there…and its at that same time, you’ll also begin to fully appreciate their early bedtime. Me-time, here I come.

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