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Hi! I am so glad you are here!
Sleep is hard, guys. The science of sleep, it is complex. Add on top of that a toddler or preschooler seeking independence, learning to deal with new and big emotions, finding his or her place in this world, learning how to influence situations. It's no wonder our sweet kiddos struggle so much with this time of the day. Each child and family have their own unique challenges when it comes to sleep. And there is no one-size-fits-all answer. However, we are pretty lucky because sleep has been studied extensively, especially over the past 30 years. And we now know that there are certain actions that set a child up for success and improve sleep, and other actions that make it more challenging to sleep. Bedtime Bootcamp, we are going to focus on making your child's bedtime routine a smooth, easy, consistent, and pleasant process. Getting the nuts and bolts in place, so if your kiddo's sleep challenges are bigger than just bedtime routine, you'll be set to move forward. And if bedtime routine is your only struggle, you'll be golden. My goal is that by the end of Bedtime Bootcamp, you won't dread your kiddo's bedtime routine every night. That you end your day on a positive note instead of with regret, frustration, disappointment, or sadness. That we increase the chance that your kiddos' overnight sleep is restful. I recommend tackling one challenge at a time, however if you feel ready to tackle more than one challenge at a time, that's fine as well. Key to success is approaching all changes with excitement when talking to your kiddos. This is not about punishment or taking charge. It is about happy, productive time together and good sleep!
I am excited for you to get started, and look forward to hearing your successes!
Bedtime Bootcamp is for you if...
Bedtime Bootcamp is not for you if...
You dread bedtime every night
Your child takes a long time to fall asleep
Your child watches tv/ipad/plays video games as part of bedtime routine
Your child stalls and it drives you nuts
You regularly lose your patience during bedtime routine
Your child is hungry, or at least claims to be hungry, at bedtime
Your child often cries or throws a fit during bedtime
Your child falls asleep later than 9PM
You wish bedtime was peaceful, consistent, and quick
Bedtime almost always goes smoothly
Your child falls asleep within 5-15 minutes of being tucked in
You child has a regular bedtime routine that does not include using electronics
Your child accepts the bedtime process and does not resist, protest, or challenge it regularly
Getting your child ready for bed is not typically stressful
Eating/drinking is not part of your child's bedtime routine and your child does not ask for food once you have indicated it's time to get ready for bed
Your child's bedtime is between 7-9PM
You would describe your child's bedtime as relatively peaceful, consistent, and quick
Let' Get Started!
A word about boundaries...
Much of Bedtime Bootcamp Challenge is about boundary setting. I think setting boundaries is one of the hardest parts of parenting. Seriously, and no one talks about it. Boundary setting is not about flexing your authority or power. You can set boundaries and still support independence and flexibility. I do. Children like rules. They like to know what the limits are. Without limits, they can feel anxious. If limits change from day to day or situation to situation, children are left with no choice but to test the limits. And see if they can get you to change the limit. However, if the limits are always the same, and they test the limits, and the limits down change, and they test them again a different way, and they still don't change, their anxiety and wondering about what the situation will look like will go away. They can relax. They can accept the limits, and move on with their lives. However, children also like choices. They like to make decisions themselves. They like to be creative and come up with their own idea. They don't want to constantly be told what to do. Or nagged at. They are people too, just like us. And so, it is one of the kindest things you can do to set boundaries, as long as they are appropriate. When I suggest boundaries, they must always meet 3 out of 3 criteria. They must be age/developmentally appropriate, in your child's best interest, and kind. The boundaries are the outer limit of what we are willing to accept. That leaves room for negotiation and flexibility inside the boundaries. That gives each family room to decide what is best for their family inside the boundaries. The reason I think setting boundaries is hard is because sometimes they aren't what our children are asking for. And we want our children to be happy. It hurts to see our children sad. Or struggle. Or have to work to get through something. However, once you decide on a boundary related to sleep, perhaps because your child's current sleep situation is not working, or is just no longer serving you, and you know that is age/developmentally appropriate, is in your child's best interest, and is kind, when your child resists, pushes back, cries, begs, gives you the saddest puppy face, you can take a deep breath. Because you know you set the boundary because change is needed, and you know it is developmentally appropriate, and you know it is in their best interest, and you know it is kind. When determining boundaries, I would encourage you to discuss and determine boundaries with your partner. You will both want to be on the same page. So both parents can feel good about the boundary and follow through and support each other if your child tests the limits. From what I am learning, boundary setting doesn't go away as our kids get older, just the topic of the boundaries change. If you feel good about your boundary, you will feel good about the results. The puppy dog eyes and the cries and the tantrums you must wade through to get there will be worth it.
Challenge Day 1
SCREEN TIME AND SLEEP
All good things come in moderation.
Screens, you either love them or you hate 'em. Okay, maybe not. I do think there is a way to find some balance in between. The reality of the world we live in is that screens are everywhere. And many of our children interact with screens on a very regular basis. If we aren't very intentional about how our children use screens, they quickly become the band-aid that entertains our children when we need a free moment, keep our children still when we want them to be calm, become a bargaining chip, reward, bribe when we need our children to do something, or even "help" our children fall asleep. I mean, seriously, life is hard!
I, too, am grateful for the peace screen time seems to provide at times.
It's no secret that studies have shown screen time too close to bedtime is bad for sleep. We hear it all the time about our own use of screens. But to what extent is this true? Does it also count for children? Is screen time bad only if your child is watching a show as they fall asleep? What if they just like to watch a lot of TV during the day, but don't watch it in the evening? Or, how about if watching a YouTube video on the iPad is the one thing that relaxes your child and seems to actually help him fall asleep? Instead of speculating, or calling all screen time bad, I thoroughly reviewed the most current research and have been putting the lessons it has taught us into practice with children of all different personalities, family dynamics, and sleep challenges.
I realize changing screen time habits is a big ask. Seriously. It can affect the dynamic of your day. I am not taking this ask lightly. Even still, it is a worthwhile change. It will not only affect your bedtime routine but how your child falls asleep and how they sleep throughout the night. That is why I chose to for this to be the first challenge. It is critical to the rest of the challenges. Don't skip this one.
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