When the 3 kids are sleeping, the entire house is soooo peaceful. Here’s a sharing on how I coordinate their nap and bedtimes so that I retain my sanity.
#1 Vee (4+ years old) – the agreement
As you may already know, Mummy’s Reviews was started after Vee-the-fussy-high-needs-baby began sleeping better. Some things never change… 4+ years has flown past and he still doesn’t like to sleep. Asking him to sleep is like throwing him into prison.
Nap: He started dropping his afternoon nap at about 3+ years old. Nevertheless, afternoon downtime / quiet time / nap time (whatever name you’d like to call it) is still compulsory in this tiger mum’s house.
- If he’s well-rested the night before (i.e. 10 solid hours): no need to stay on bed. Accompany me in the schoolroom. He may choose to do any quiet activities in our schoolroom while I create new learning materials. Curtains drawn, so there’s minimal bright light.
- If he needs a nap: must stay in bed
As long as he’s calm and quiet, everything’s fine.
BUT if he starts singing, talking, stamping his feet, jumping off the bed or disturbing his brothers (who are sleeping), he gets reminded to regain his peace. The problem is I can’t talk much during this time or I’d be the one disturbing the younger ones. So how? We have an agreement in the morning.
Months ago, we discussed his behaviour and came out with several house rules.
EVERY morning, he’s to “recite” the rules, which consist of “resting in the afternoon” and “cannot disturb others when they’re resting”. Then we hook our little fingers.
So when he breaks the rules during nap or bedtime and doesn’t calm down after gentle reminders, he’s “invited” to sit outside the bedroom (doors closed) until he completely calms down. He’s an attached child who likes to be in the same room as all of us, so this method works for him.
Note that we don’t use the word “punishment”; this is simply a way for the child to learn to calm down.
Now that he’s settled, let’s move on to Jae.
#2 Jae (2 years old) – the easy one
This boy is my best sleeper. Once he’s tired or too bored, he’d fall sleep. He takes the cues very well from the nap and bedtime routine. At the end of the routine, he’d lie on his pillow, be very quiet and fall asleep soon after. He doesn’t need anyone else to be with him in the room. Thank goodness for at least 1 easy kid to settle!
Of course, there’re afternoons when he’s too hyper and starts monkeying around. Since we make a similar agreement like his older brother in the morning, he gets similar treatment. Not calm? Go to the next room (our homeschool room), sit on a chair and calm down. The room is child-proofed, so it’s more suitable for him to find his peace there.
#3 Baby El (newborn) – do whatever it takes
Being a baby gets special treatment. I’ve learnt that a baby needs a solid nap in the afternoon, so that he only needs a short nap in the evening, and can tune down easier for a long night’s rest.
By “solid nap”, I aim for 1.5 to 2.5 hours in the afternoon.
Ways that help baby take a long nap:
- Naptime routine: (for example) story time with siblings, feed, change diaper, swaddle, rock, put on bed, pat
- Curtains with black-out layer to block out strong sunlight. I prefer to draw all curtains during nap time.
- Easy-to-use swaddle that keeps baby snug and cosy
- When baby stirs from sleep cycle, try to get him to sleep for another cycle. May try carrying upright for a quick way to burp him again, redo swaddle snugly, rock, nurse a bit, etc. Basically, whatever it takes to help him sleep again. This has worked for the 3 kids.
To coordinate the boys’ timings, I let Baby El take a shorter morning nap (e.g. 1 hour at 3 months old). This way, he’d be awake during our lunch time. Then by the time we start our nap time routine after lunch, he’s ready to sleep again.
More sleeping tips
To let the kids tune down easier, these are more ideas:
- Bedtime routine: can’t stress this enough. Just create a calm routine that works best for your family.
- Avoid letting the child fall asleep while drinking milk or nursing every single time. This is so that the child doesn’t associate falling asleep with milk / nursing. This prevents the habit of waking up for milk (for an older baby). If nursing is the only way a fussy baby would sleep, I’d give in, as long as he can fall asleep by other ways too. (This also prevents tooth decay for an older child, who should brush his teeth before sleeping.)
- Only calm activities before bedtime. When Daddy’s wresting-on-the-bed games get too exciting with Vee’s shrieks and laughs, I start shhhhhh-ing everybody to calm down.
- Restrict foods with high-sugar content, refined carbohydrates and caffeine, especially before nap & bedtime: This means no grapes, cakes and chocolates before bed. (If I want to satisfy my own craving, I’ll hide and gobble down a chocolate or two. Ha!)
Hope this sharing helps and may you have a good night’s sleep tonight!