The Single Dad Survival Guide: Put'em to sleep!
Ready To Go Night Night?
Kids just don't know how awesome sleep is. For whatever reason they think they are going to miss an opportunity to watch Obama slam dunk over Michael Jackson during halftime at the Super Bowl and for this reason alone, they can not and MUST NOT fall asleep. Fear not, I got this...
Early on you want to establish a pattern. If you haven't done so yet then now is the perfect time to start. Getting your kid into a routine is fundamental for establishing a sleep pattern. I've found that setting the expectation early on works really good. Here's how ya do it...
- It starts from the morning. If your kid is old enough to go to school then when you drop them off at school in the morning go over your expectations. Let them know they are going to have a great day today and when you pick them up you'll expect to know what homework they have to complete so you can tackle it together. This plants the seed of expectation! They will know that you fully expect them to deliver on that homework.
- When you pick them up make sure to ask about their day. I know it seems like the obvious thing to do but keep in mind we are establishing a pattern. This will help you recognize when things are out of whack. Sometimes your kid won't have the best day and you'll know it from how they respond to the question. If they are eager to let you know how their day went then chances are they had a good day. Watch for body language. Are they making eye contact? Are they slouching? These could be signs that something is wrong and you'll want to address that ASAP.
- In the car discuss what's going to happen next. Homework is a priority and despite what your kids says they get homework EVERYDAY. Be sure to ask about it and make sure they understand the lesson and what is expected of them. All of this contributes to your routine and will make sense if you follow along. Be firm when you let them know that they must complete their homework before they can watch tv or play with their toys or video games or whatever activity it is they would like to engage in. Work now, play later.
- After homework is done designate play time accordingly. Make sure you stay on top of the schedule! I tend to set bedtime at 9 pm. Taking into account you work a regular 9-5 that gives you just a few hours to play with you child and get them ready for bed. Make every second count! Set things up so that everything leads to bedtime. Homework, playtime, dinner, bath time, squeeze in a little tv and presto. What I like to do is use tv shows as a deadline. Tell them that its time for bed after they watch two episodes of their favorite show. You know its one hour but they will be counting down the time in a different way.
I can't stress how important it is to stay consistent with this. You can save that last time for telling a story in bed or watching tv but once a pattern has been established bedtime shouldn't be that big of a deal. After a while you'll be able to just let your kid know that they've got one episode left and then its time for bed. Soon after they will be telling YOU it's time for them to go to sleep!