Bedtime can be a huge challenge for many families. Instead of a peaceful time slowly preparing for sleep together, it can mean toddler tantrums, tears and more than a little bit of chaos.
When my kids were younger bedtime started out CRAZY – but then I figured out a few things that made everything a whole lot easier.
How to prevent toddler tantrums at bedtime
How to get your toddler to put on pajamas without a fight
This is usually when things start to go south right? The evening is going well, everyone is all happy and giggling and then some one says it “it’s PJ time”. The kids obviously know that after they put on their pajamas, it will quickly be time to go to sleep, so the bedtime tantrums can start long before you get the kiddos into the bedroom.
There is one very simple solution to this problem though… tell the kids after they put on their pajamas there will be more playtime. This eliminates virtually all dawdling and bedtime meltdowns during pajama time and while they brush their teeth. Instead, they’ll get through their bedtime prep routine as quickly as possible because they want to have more time to play!
Naturally, you’ll want to keep the after pajama playtime as calm as possible, but it’s the perfect chance to color together, read books or play with small toys as a family. Instead of bedtime fights, you’ll spend your evenings enjoying time with one another.
Since the kids are ready for bed, you can have a flexible playtime. The key here is watching the clock. If they are behaving, let them stay up until bedtime or even a little after. If it is one of those rough nights where no one can making 5 minutes without fussing, enforce an earlier bedtime. Since most toddlers can’t tell time, they will never know if you put them to bed at 6:30 instead of 7. My go-to phrase is “fussing and whining tells mama that you are ready for bed“. Usually the kids are able to calm down and stay up a little longer for playtime, but when they’re not we know they are too tired to have fun anyway and bedtime is the best choice.
Count to 10
I’ve talked about how counting to 10 has greatly reduced the number of tantrums we deal with everyday, and bedtime is no exception. I always tell my son when it’s about to be bedtime and we count to 10 together while he finishes playing. This is a nice time frame that he can understand at his young age, and it’s a time limit that I can control, so that he is not able to dawdle. We count together at night, and then he goes to bed.
After doing these things, we’re able to keep the rest of the bedtime routine very low key. Take them to bed, talk for a couple minutes and then turn out the light and leave the room. Keeping the last part of the bedtime routine simple has been one of the BEST parenting decisions we’ve made so far. It makes our evenings a lot simpler, and when we have guests visiting, we don’t have to plan our entire evening around an hour long bedtime routine.
With these three tips, you are sure to put an end to toddler tantrums at bedtime before you know it!