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The plan: kids in bed at 8 pm sharp, an hour or two of email catch-up and a cup or two of tea, and a little light reading before bed. The reality: it’s 9:30 pm and no one is asleep. Sound familiar? Yeah, we thought so.

One night after bedtime stretched on for way, way too long, our CEO Katya asked the community forum for bedtime tips for her 7 year old. Immediately, our members jumped in to share their own sleep challenges and solutions. With so much great such great advice coming in, we knew we had to share it.

Here’s the question that started it all…

I’m kind of at a loss mamas. Every night we get to bed at 8pm after dinner, bath and books… and for an hour we do the song and dance. She’s not tired at all. In fact it’s like she has the energy of a thousand suns…meanwhile I am rubbing my eyes like it is 2am. In the morning when we wake up at 6:30 am for school, she’s exhausted, in tears, asking why she can’t feel this tired when it’s bedtime. #greatquestion

I can get her to sleep a drop earlier if I stay in the room and massage her harder than a swiss expert, until my hands are sore and count down from 1000 books backwards (like one would wonder how many books it might take for her to fall asleep.. let me tell you.. one time it took hundreds of books).

Mamas to kids in the 6 to 8 year old range…. Tips for really ‘spirited’ high energy never tired kids? When did bed book bath completely stop working… ?!

With love,
Katya

Ready to learn the tips that poured in? Let’s go.

 

Cue the essential oils.

“Essential oils (EO) have worked MIRACLES in my house and I was a complete skeptic. It took a friend a year to convince me. Mostly because it overwhelmed me to have to learn how to use them etc. but I am so happy I have. Every night after dinner we put lavender oil in the diffuser around 6pm. If they are really wired I add Roman Chamomile. Then we start the bedtime routine. (We have also switched from baths to showers for what it’s worth as baths were making my kids sillier). Then after shower/teeth etc the lights are dimmed everywhere, and we read and lie in bed. We also use EO on our feet and our temples depending on what else we need (they help with stuffy noses, colds, stress, anxiety, mood, cellular health etc etc). They love figuring out what their body needs and picking the right EO. Anyhow, i keep the diffuser going until after they fall asleep. I really like the DoTerra brand of oils. As for the diffuser, I have a few now. I have the DoTerra one which you add water to and has a nice 2 or 4 hour timer. But it’s ugly. Then I have the Pilgrim Sofia (better aesthetically, no timer, no water). And I just got the Teo Aroma which is decent aesthetically and has a timer.”

–Debra Netschert, Managing Director Jennison Associates

 

Get them moving.

“My now 8 year old was exactly the same at 5-6 yrs old. We had to start after school sports to help tire him out. He now does ballet three times a week for two hours each night. He’s in bed by 7pm. I also bathed him with lavender body wash and use a diffuser with lavender and eucalyptus oil in it. School was not enough for him to get tired. I realized he only had a 30 minute break and a 45 minute lunch. That’s not enough physical activity. On days we don’t have ballet he’s dancing for hours before bed. The physical activity has really helped. I’m so sorry you are going through this it’s so hard. I hope this helps.”

–Adriana Madrigal, Founder/CEO Mad-Man, Inc.

 

Move bedtime and/or bath time.

“The only thing that works is me sitting in the dark room with them until one or both is asleep, usually 20-30 minutes. We recently moved showers to the morning, because that was one more place for them to lollygag and/or get riled up. That seems to be helping. We also moved bedtime up a bit – counterintuitive but maybe they have been over tired and are slap happy. We run soothing music in their room for 15-30 minutes to help calm them down. It’s honestly all just a big experiment, but those tactics work sometimes. We try to have them in bed by 7:30 (very hard when it’s just me at home at bedtime, which it is 70% of the time), and if they are asleep by 8pm, I declare victory. The other thing that seems to have helped a bit is that I had them put together a chart with the bedtime routine and had them list out some rules for bedtime. That seems to make them think they have some control. I’m sure you’ve tried all this before, and it certainly doesn’t work all the time. Hopefully it just helps you to know that you’re not alone. And if you yell and lose your shit, well…I do all the time and then when it’s all over and they are finally asleep, I pour myself a glass of wine and remind myself to try again tomorrow.”

–Melissa Birge, Founder Mia Tango

 

“Similar problem over here, which was somewhat alleviated by starting bedtime earlier. Pediatrician suggested we were waiting too long to start bedtime and that our kids were basically getting their second wind, so to speak. (As a grown up, I’m familiar with this when I pull 20 hour days on the road and end up in my hotel room at midnight and can’t fall asleep). At some point, when we’re tired, adrenaline kicks in to keep us going. Sounds like that *might* be part of the problem. We switched from a 7:30 start of bedtime routine to a 7:00 PM and our kids are usually asleep between 8-8:30. Whereas with a 7:30 start, in many instances they were still up past 9:00, even as late as 10:00 and that was making me very annoyed and then very tired. When daylight savings rolls along, we ignore the new time for a while and actually try to push bedtime earlier or later by taking the extra hour. Then again, she may just be wired to be a night person (which is 20% of the population) and so she can’t sleep at night, but is dragging at 6:30 AM. I mean, I think this is why there is a whole campaign to start kids school later since only a small portion of the population functions early AM. Hope that helps. (I have a 4 and 6 year old who dream of “staying up all night!”)”

–Jessica Curtis Johnson, SVP Restaurant Practice Leader CBRE

 

Cut the nap.

“I have an almost 3 year old and we also just cut out the nap. It is overall WORKING!! She can get a little crazy right for a few minutes right before bed because she is missing the nap, but she is going down so much faster and staying in her bed (she was getting out over and over again until 9-10pm over the past two months). She gets upset when we tell her playtime is over and it is time to read and brush teeth. I just tried giving her a choice of a final bedtime activity- such as reading or a puzzle or coloring. She seems to really like getting to choose instead of associating one thing (reading) with play time being over. It is helping so far!”

–Michelle Evans, Owner ElleZara, LLC

 

Introduce meditation.

“Not sure if you ever tried but I am a big fan of Headspace for Kids. The “sleep” option based on ages provides 3, 6 or 9 minute mini meditations that will at least give you a break in the bed time routine and possibly lull her to sleep or at least help her nod off a bit easier? My kids love it, we do it nightly. I have twin 7 year old boys and a 10 year old boy (yes they are all “spirited”) and they all look forward to it after we do bath and books. I leave the room during that time. Yes I know it is time on the iPad or on your phone (not playing but listening) but it helps. Fingers crossed from a mom who has been there and isn’t off the hook totally, just more often than not.”

–Amy Shapiro, Real Nutrition Inc. Founder

 

Allow for a little more independence.

“I hear you! We were in that boat too. I took a leap of faith and trusted that her natural judgement might kick in if she was making the decisions herself. We got my daughter a reading light that turns into a night light (can be dimmed and turned from bright white light to muted hazy yellow dim light). Then I said it’s a strict ‘bed at 7.30’ – but she could take with her a reading book and read till she fell asleep. No toys, no other stimulation, no screens after 6.30. It worked after a few days of her staying up way too late reading! I think it made her feel more grown up and independent and it gave me back my precious evenings too. It’s not perfect but I find looking at the week as a whole she’s getting more sleep on average than she was before.”

Stephanie Oshva, Founder/Designer Little O Clothing

 

“We used to have the same issue with my 3.5 year old — he really struggled to fall asleep at bedtime and would shout for me incessantly. Finally I put him to bed a lot earlier (between 630-7pm), gave him a very dim night light, and told him he could read books/play with his LEGOs/whatever as long as he stayed in bed and I didn’t hear from him again til morning. The first two nights he stayed up sort of late playing but then that lost its appeal and he just went to sleep after 10 minutes of looking at his books. In retrospect, I think that he’s a kid who needs decompression time (alone) before falling asleep and, with the later bedtime, by the time he decompressed he would get his second wind… game over.”

–Hadley Seward, Certified Sleep Consultant Bonne Nuit Sleep

 

A reminder that someday, mamas of little ones will face entirely different sleep challenges.

“I have older kids, but for these younger kids their bedtimes should maybe earlier? Once they get overtired it’s MUCH harder to get them to sleep. At 2.5 maybe try a 6 or 6:30pm bedtime? and for a 7 year old, I would say no later than 7pm! That’s all I’ve got. I am not living in a world where i can’t get them OUT of bed.”

–Pamela Murphy, Founder/Creative Director The Select 7

 

The magic of our forums is that mamas have the chance to ask questions like this one all day, every day. When motherhood gets lonely or challenging, connecting with other mamas is the best antidote. If you’re not a member yet, apply today to see just what we mean! Your tribe awaits.

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