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SOS (Save Our Sleep)

Updated: Oct 9, 2023

We used to have the perfect bedtime routine. We would read the Bible, sing our songs and put the kids down before 7pm every night and have an entire evening to ourselves; it was magical. The perfect routine came to a screeching halt when Judah started potty training. Endless trips to the bathroom after saying our good-nights sparked the boys realization that the evening can continue far longer than it used to. So long silent nights. We have been trying a few things to help make sure they are actually sleepy around bedtime, while also establishing that "bed" time can be different than "sleep" time. This is something my mother taught me- bed time begins OUR time alone as parents, the kids don't have to be asleep, they just need to be out of sight for the night. This is a concept I can get behind.

First, let's talk about our sleep for a moment...

Our bedroom deserves to be a place that inspires sleep. I have always loved sleep, and I genuinely look forward to it. My bedroom is nothing fancy, in fact, it's not even the primary bedroom in our home, but I sure do love sleeping in there. You don't have to love spending time in your room, but you should absolutely love sleeping in it. Here are some tips that are helpful for setting the tone of your bedroom.

  1. Keep your space free of clutter. This is a tough one, but I find that this makes all the difference. Clutter = Stress and there is absolutely no room for that.

  2. Aromatherapy. The best version of me sets up my diffuser every night with lavender and serenity. The best version of me doesn't show up as often as necessary but if you struggle with sleep this is extremely helpful, I typically don't have a hard time sleeping but this got me through Pregnancy Insomnia.

  3. Temperature and Lighting. If you need darkness to sleep, make sure you have blackout curtains. Temperature is also important to be aware of, make sure the thermostat is set to your optimal temperature each night.

  4. The bedding. I recently upgraded to Bamboo sheets and I am stunned by how soft they are. I used to have cheap Amazon sheets that never truly felt comfortable or clean but I did not know what I was missing out on. I got some sheets from Cozy Earth and they are extremely durable, soft, antibacterial/antimicrobial, hypoallergenic, and help with temperature regulation. You can use code: BROOKEMCREYNOLDS40 if you want to try them out (the code expires at the end of this month). But truly any bedding that suits your fancy- silk, cotton, a heavy comforter, lightweight quilt? Whatever will make you most comfortable matters because it's quite a personal choice!

  5. The mattress and pillows. A comfortable mattress is great for making sure you are supported and set for a sound night sleep. I am going on 8 years with the most uncomfortable mattress so I am open to suggestions here! I have endured 4 pregnancies and I cannot even imagine what support would have felt like during those months, but it's on our list to upgrade soon! Whether your preference is for firm or soft pillows, good ones are worth investing in- another area I am open to suggestions because we have had $10 pillows since we got married.

  6. Intentionality. Bedtime routines are definitely custom, so I don't want to recommend anything too specific here. It is often said to stay away from any screens for an hour before bed but I fall asleep watching a "sleep show" every single night and sleep like a baby. Essentially, you know yourself best. If you struggle to fall asleep and stay asleep, your routine probably can afford to be a little more strict. Take time to figure out what works best for you, we need our sleep so we can best take care our family and ourselves.

Tips for Ensuring Sleepy Kids

  1. Take advantage of daytime energy to maximize nighttime sleep. Kids are FULL of energy and that energy has got to go somewhere. The more active they are in the day, I notice the better night's sleep they get. I actually notice this for myself too, so keeping this mindset is a great way to get the whole family involved in physical activity each day.

  2. Set (and keep) an established bedtime routine. This routine can be whatever works best for you and your kids. Do you want to do bath time every night? Add that to the list! Reading? Yoga? Prayers? The key factors should be sustainability and aiming to help wind down for the night. For us, we always read a Bible story, say our prayers, and sing songs. The lights get turned off after reading and it sets the tone for the more tender part of the evening. Do the boys rest their heads on the pillow and drift softly into dreamland as soon as we utter "amen"? Absolutely not, but it does set the tone for the rest of their evening.

  3. Equip the room to promote a relaxing atmosphere come bedtime. For us, this means making sure the room is cool enough, dark enough, and setting up the humidifier and diffuser. The diffuser can be such an asset to providing a comforting and relaxing environment that promotes a sound sleep.

  4. Limit Screen time. I may not listen to this advice for myself but we do give a good buffer after any screen time because it can be stimulating when we are aiming for the absolute opposite of that.

  5. Make sure to have an optimal nap time. This might go without saying, but make sure you plan naptime with bedtime in mind. For instance, the kids waking up at 5pm is probably not ideal for a 7pm bedtime so be sure to take that into account.

  6. Give dinner time to settle. Giving food time to settle is great for two reasons: the first being comfort and the second is avoiding poorly timed trips to the bathroom. I am quite the fan of early dinner (4:30 is my favorite) because it helps us be able to get the kids to sleep at a good time without compromising quality time in the evening. An added bonus is that their food has time to settle as well.

  7. Get outside during the day. The sun is a beautiful and powerful tool we should use to our advantage. Exposure to the sun of course provides vitamin D which is essential, but it also helps regulate sleep cycles.

  8. Clearly communicate expectations. Be sure your kids know what you expect from them. Help them to understand the boundaries and how they are expected to behave in the evening time. It is essential for everyone to be on the same page.

  9. Educate your kids on the importance of sleep. If your kids are anything like mine they like to understand everything. Why is sleep important? Why do I have to go to bed? Why can't we play more Mario Kart? Why can't I get out of bed earlier in the morning? The list goes on and on. I make sure they understand sleep is important for growing strong, it helps us have good attitudes, be good listeners and make good decisions, as well as staying healthy. They really only care about the staying healthy and growing strong part but I always throw in the other reasons for good measure.

Bedtime Boundaries

  1. There should be no reason for eye contact until morning. This is necessary at least for me to say because our oldest loves any reason to "let us know" something, and we often find ourselves going in their room to remind them to keep the volume down or stop bickering. If our eyes meet, there are consequences attached.

  2. Once the kids are in bed they should stay there. There is quite the temptation to both leave the room as well as their actual bed, so this boundary covers both. Bathroom breaks are the exception, of course, but we do our best to keep that to a minimum with our last boundary!

  3. Decide on a cut off time for water- or have a designated amount. Filling the water bottles with less than usual, or setting a cut off time really helps limit late night water intake which helps limit late night trips to the bathroom.

I would absolutely love to hear your sleep tips and mattress recommendations!!

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Azure Loves
Azure Loves
Sep 12, 2023

These are some great tips! We're going to be potty training here pretty soon so your timing is perfect! I'm curious how you make early dinner work. Is that time for the whole family or just the kids? I do 6:30p but always end up running behind and my sons bedtime is 7:30-8ish so I definitely will rethink dinner time.

Unfortunately, I'm in the same boat as you with the pillows and the mattress 😫

Sep 12, 2023
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I grew up eating dinner around 5:30 usually, sometimes earlier- so I’ve always been an early dinner fan! We often eat around 4:30 because Matthew gets home around 3:30-4pm. My biggest trick is cooking during naptime! I get everything prepped and then it’s ready to go at that time!!

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