Anyone who knows us, knows we’re not big on routines. They just don’t work for us. I’m guessing we can’t be the only people in this world that don’t mesh with routines. Drake is no exception. We attempted routines over and over for the first year and a half of his life and they just weren’t working the way all the books and pediatricians said they should. Just one more reason why I don’t believe one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to raising children. We manage just fine without strict routines. Obviously there are things that repeat daily in Drake’s life (i.e. brushing his teeth twice a day, bath time every evening, eating three times a day, etc.), but that’s as close to routine as we get. You’re probably wondering how we get anything done this way. Funny thing, we accomplish more this way.
One thing that we struggled with though was bedtime and how to get Drake to settle down at night. We did the whole bedtime routine for a year and a half and he still didn’t go to settle down. For a year and a half we had set nap times and a specific bedtime routine consisting of bath time, teeth brushing, Story time, cuddles and sleep was supposed to come after that. It never did. My son just doesn’t like to sleep. It took us a while to figure out what was causing him to stay up or wake up in the night and not go back to sleep. In the process we learned several things that help him settle down and wake up less and we’re still learning and trying new things.
Overtired = No Sleep
Most of our friends and family suggested that we drop his second nap and keep him up and active. I imagine this is good advice for most people. Problem is Drake didn’t sleep from nine or ten at night until six or seven in the morning. He still doesn’t sleep that way. He sleeps about eight hours, sometimes ten. Needless to say as new young parents we listened to everyone. We dropped his second nap and didn’t let him sleep passed 5:00 PM. It was brutal and Drake was more cranky. It didn’t take us long to drop the advice and try it our own way. We realized he wasn’t ready for just one nap a day. So we reintroduced his second nap and decided no sleeping after 6:00 PM was more reasonable. His naps usually only last about one to two hours, sometimes even less.
The Lesson Learned: A child who is overtired will not be able to settle down and go to sleep.
Grumbling Tummies Keep Kiddos Awake
This one was another one we learned pretty quick. Even at two Drake doesn’t always tell us when he’s hungry. We learned how to read his hunger cues long ago, but we’d often heard that you shouldn’t eat before bed. I did a lot of research on this because I realized Drake was often peckish just before bed. What I discovered was that there is plenty of evidence to support and oppose that theory. So I did what I thought was best. About 45 mintues to an hour before bed, if Drake is peckish, we give him a light healthy snack like apple slices dipped in peanut butter or a Happy Squeezy which is an organic fruit and vegetable puree. This usually keeps him full through the night. We found a lot of great tips and bedtime snack ideas on the blog Super Healthy Kids.
The Lesson Learned: Make sure your kiddo isn’t hungry around bedtime. Sometimes a small snack makes a big difference.
Sleeping Environment Preferences
I know what the books and the experts say. Keep the room quiet, dark and cozy. That worked great when he was an infant. Once he turned one, that didn’t work so great anymore. Drake doesn’t like the dark. He’s good if it’s a dimly lit room, whether by a lamp or moonlight (which we don’t get through our windows in the big city). So, we keep one lamp on at night in our room. Now for the quiet part. Drake does not always relax when it’s quiet. He tends to enjoy filling the silence with his voice. He’s not one to be bored to sleep. We found having background noise whether it’s a favorite TV show or a favorite music CD playing, helps him fall asleep. Sometimes just hearing our voices singing or reading works, if he’s especially tired. Now for cozy… Drake gets overheated very quickly. Our room is above our building’s laundry room. The pipes are all right below our floor. This heat in this room year round is unbearable. We have to regulate the room temperature with our air conditioner. I think this may have lead to Drake developing a preferene for a cooler environment, which is what mom and dad like too.
The Lesson Learned: Kids have preferences too. Not every child likes the Quiet, Dark environment so often recommended.
Relaxing An Energized Toddler
Drake is energetic, even after getting the environment right, making sure his tummy’s full and so on.He just loves to play, no matter how tired he is. I call him my little energizer bunny. It took us a really long time to find things that relax him. One of the first things we tried was lavender bath soap and bubbles. That really didn’t do much since he gets so excited and energized for bath time. We tried a book before bed, but he’s a bookworm like his mommy and it excites him.
The first thing we found that settles him down is cuddling. He likes when mommy and daddy snuggle with him before sleep. Sometimes, though, he just wants to play with us instead of sleep. I started stufying herbalism when I was in high school and picked it back up again about a year ago. My husband and I both knew the calming properties that Lavender has to offer and we just so happened to have lavender essential oil and dried lavender. So we tried three things:
1) We put a single drop of lavender oil on Drake’s stuffed dragon, called Draggy’s tail. Whenever our little dude is tired he rubs the tail of his dragon under his nose. This would probably work for anyone who’s child sleeps with a stuffed animal or a special blanket.
2) We burned lavender essential oil in our oil burner about a half hour before bedtime. This fills the room with the smell of lavender and even makes me and Colin a little drowsy.
3) We placed a satchel dried lavender under our pillows. Sometimes Drake pulls it out takes a whiff and then puts it back, but often it just stays there and keeps us all calm.
The Lesson Learned: Lavender is magic! Sometimes we need a little extra help settling down.
That’s what works for us. We haven’t had any more sleep trouble. What works for you guys? What tips and tricks do you have? Do routines work for your kids? Let us know below in the comments.
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