a better bedtime routine – getting kids to go to bed

{Awesome update! This bedtime routine has now been working for us for 2 years. I couldn’t be happier. I hope you will find the same success getting the kids to go to bed and making bedtime a wonderful experience for everyone.}

Ahhhh bedtime.  Peaceful.  Quiet.  The perfect time for parents to relax, recharge and reconnect with each other.  After the kids have smiled their last sleepy smile you close the door and drift downstairs ready to let the adult time begin.

Doesn’t that bedtime routine sound fabulous… and well UNREALISTIC?!?!?  I would have agreed until about 6 months ago.  I was in search of a way to fix our bedtime woes.

The Bedtime Battle (when I was NOT getting the kids to go to bed)

M and M had become out of control at bedtime.  Begging for one more drink, yelling for me (or at each other), crying for me to stay in the room.  It was awful… and of course I made terrible parenting choices.  I was so, so exhausted by that point in the evening that I was doing things I don’t even consider during the day.

a better bedtime routine -- great post and TONS of info in comments  on how to get kids to go to bed

Bribery, bending (um breaking) set rules, yelling (ick), and worst of all letting guilt sway my parenting choices.  I just kept picturing their dreams being filled with my angry/ exhausted/ frustrated face… since that was the last thing they had seen.  So I would go soft and let them get away with anything.  It got to the point where Hubs had to put them to bed for me… I had lost ALL credibility at bedtime.

A Better Bedtime Routine – getting the kids to go to bed

I came across a bedtime routine while reading Parenting With Love And Logic that sounded so crazy I had to read it three times before deciding to put it into action. (Affiliate link.)

Let the kids decide when to go to sleep.

My brain was spinning.  “WHAT?!?  We would be nuts to consider it!  No way, no way… NO WAY!  Hmmmm…. what we’re doing isn’t working.  Trying it out couldn’t hurt.  Why not… we’re mostly nuts anyway.” ;)  So we set a plan… decided on the boundaries and braced ourselves for a very long night.

We had the kids prepped for sleep by 7:00 pm. (Teeth brushed, jammies on, stories read.)  Then we let them in on the “rules” for the evening.  We told them (very honestly) that we had enjoyed spending the day with them but now we needed some “adult time”.

a better bedtime routine -- great post and TONS of info in comments  on how to get kids to go to bed

They were welcome to stay awake, but they were to play quietly in their room.  We would know they were ready for bed when they came out of their room.  (The hidden meaning there is that they can only come out once!)   We told them to enjoy their rest and then walked down the stairs.

Would you believe they played quietly for 1 hour and then ASKED to go to bed?!?!  You read that right they actually said “I’m tired.  I want to go to sleep.”  It worked!  It worked!  It worked!  Best part is… it’s still working.  After 6 months it is still working.  I love awesome parenting tricks that are so easy to execute!

a better bedtime routine -- great post and TONS of info in comments  on how to get kids to go to bed

Extra Tips for this bedtime routine:  1.  In the beginning we were really strict (although kind, patient and calm) about the “once out straight-to-sleep rule”.  There were NO exceptions.  After a month or so we were able to be a bit more flexible.  Sometimes Big M will have a Lego structure to show us and we can look then send him back up with no problem.  It will be easy to go back to being strict if coming out becomes a problem though.  2.  Rowdy play, fighting or just plain being loud are grounds for sleep time.  3.  M and M have rarely been ready for bed past 8.  If you have a real “set” time that you want your little ones off to dreamland the transition should be easy.  Just guide them into bed with a kiss and hug.  I bet they won’t even notice it wasn’t their choice after quietly playing for so long.

Ready for bedtime?  Let me know if this bedtime routine works for you too!

*** update  A lot of you asked about how this bedtime routine would work for younger kids.  Here are some examples from the comment sections.  Thank you all for sharing your bedtime routine experience.

Larissa says: We’ve used this concept with our children and the great part about doing it with your first, and then subsequently having more children…they learn the process off the older one. So the ‘battle’ we had with our first at around 2yrs old, wasn’t even an issue when we had our second child. She just saw what her big brother was doing (they share a room) and we had no battle with her. We have three children now, and when the baby is old enough to move in with her sister, same thing; wonderful bedtimes.
I always feel for the parents that have to stay with their child until they fall asleep. My alone time is so precious starting at 7:30pm. I don’t know what kind of a mother I’d be without it!

 Kat says :  my son’s 2-1/2 now and i’ve been doing this since he was around 16 months old or so. it works great! he chooses when he wants to go into his room (no later than 7pm – he usually goes in around 5:30 or 6pm) and basically decides when he wants to go to bed (usually falls asleep between 8pm-9pm). he sleeps better and it’s less stressful for him and us. i do this with his naptime too, but usually he just has a 1-1/2 hour “quiet time” because he stopped the naps but his doc recommended a quiet time around the same time as his nap would be. and he’s so much better when he’s rested even if it’s just playing in his room.

Lydia says: THANK YOU!!! My husband insisted I write and thank you! We have been doing this with our children for about a month. I was a little skeptical at first but it has proven effective. I have 2 boys (5 & 3) and one girl (2). I am expecting my fourth in 2 weeks and have very little patience at the end of the day. We tried this after a particularly taxing day and are amazed how well it is working. We would sit in our boys’ room until they were asleep, then they would come into our room in the middle of the night because they were scared. The first night was a dream! They went into their room at 7 and didn’t come out until they were ready to go to bed. We have family close by so some nights we are out later than bedtime. However, when we are at home, they understand the process and jump right back into our bedtime routine. My boys are sleeping better than ever and I am getting some much needed talk time with my husband after the kids go to bed and am much more patient with them. We don’t yell at them as they are going to bed anymore. Our daughter has been a good sleeper from the beginning but she is also still in her crib in her own room. We will do this with her when she moves into a big-girl bed so hopefully that transition will be a little easier.

A better bedtime routine – getting kids to go to bed was post originally appeared  March 14, 2012.

Comments

  1. says

    WOW – How old where your children when you started doing this. I wonder if this might work with J he’s 31 months now and sleeps well but often isn’t quiet ready fr sleep but we lay in the dark with him until he’s asleep – giving him the choice ready for bed but he can play until he wants to lie down maybe the way forward.
    Cerys @ Rainy Day Mum recently posted..Art explorers – Yarn

    • says

      They were 5 and 4… but I really think I could have started a lot earlier. I would try it! You’ll know with in a couple of days whether or not it will work. I would love to hear how it goes if you do try!

      • says

        Ah but that’s the great thing! What they actually have is freedom with in boundaries. They are allowed choices within the rules we have set. It’s a win win.

        • CJ says

          Wow. Rule the roost huh? Actually, it’s training for a lifetime of making great sleep choices when mommy and daddy aren’t hovering over them and barking commands at them to Sleep Now! The sooner they learn to listen to their own bodies and take good care of them, the better. It’s not like she’s suggesting that we lock ourselves in the master bedroom and let the kids go wild and do whatever they want until they pass out. Like she said, freedom within boundaries. I haven’t tried this yet but at 7&9, and not having any face time with my husband until 9:30 some nights, I AM SO ready to try it! Thanks!

          • says

            Great points CJ! Come back and let us know how it works for your family. And of course I’m here if you need help working out a plan.

          • Raine says

            Why would mummy and daddy be barking orders.. I don’t, but I certainly don’t let TJ tell me when it’s his bed time. I’m the mummy and he is the child.
            He needs a certain amount of sleep and it’s my job as a patent to make sure he gets it.
            Routine, to me, is very important, and TJ knows that he has two short program’s while he has his milk. This is the beginning if his bedtime. After one, it’s pj on time, after the second it’s wee wee and teeth cleaning time, after that it’s up to bed, with one short story, then up for a wee wee, then one more short story, then it’s night light out, and I leave him. He might be asleep, he might be awake, either way he stays quiet in his room.
            There is no “barking orders”, no stress, just a very calm and quiet half hour or so. He is in bed by 6.30-7pm depending on the time he has to get up (weekdays 6.15, weekends, whenever). He has 11 -12 hours sleep a night, and when he wakes, he gets his leap pad, and sits in his room watching cartoons, or playing until we go in and get him. In his 3 and a half years (well, 3 years of being old enough to understand) I think we can count all the bad bedtimes on one hand.
            I know routine might not work for everyone, but it certainly does for us, and we are still the ones in charge, there are no power struggles, because there is no need for any. We are all contented in to house. He has his freedom, he has choices in lots of things, but not bedtime. Sleep is i portent, but he is too young to understand that, so why let him be in charge of it??

  2. Erin says

    So, if that doesn’t work, how do you “send” them to bed? My kids get out of their bed like 50 times a night! The only way to get them to sleep is to lay down with them and they are out within 10 minutes, sometimes sooner! So, I know they’re tired! I can’t tie them to the bed when they keep getting out, so then what? Thanks.

    • says

      Erin… M and M were getting out, or screaming for me so many times. I think the reason this trick works is because it makes them “feel” like they are staying up. What we do is tell them that when the come out (for any reason… drink, hug, tell us something) they are letting us know they are ready for bed. I would make sure their room is picked up with a good area to play, and that there are a few choices of quiet activities you know will interest them. Big M loves Legos and Little usually plays with babies. Then just give it a shot. If they are that tired you might just find them curled up and asleep in bed… to tired to even come get you. (It’s happened with Little M.) Keep the questions coming until you feel comfortable and then TRY! I want to know the outcome too!

      • Erin says

        Okay, so what do I do/how do I handle the crying after play time and after they have come out. My daughter cried and did the “I want you!!!!!” for 30 minutes after she had played and then came out. I’m going to try again tonight doing it a little earlier and reminding them that if they come out they are telling me it’s bedtime.

        • says

          Yep… that’s what I would do. You might remind her of all the things you did together through the day. Make a point of how important rest time is for our bodies and how you both need time to “play” alone. After the recharge time (tomorrow) you will have a lot of special together moments again.

    • Barbara Fiori says

      My daughters son(3) was exactly the same way. He picked out a Fav animal to snuggle & sleep with every nap and bedtime, His brother is (15 )mo. so he needed Mom one on one, Read for 10 mins. talked 10 mins. tucked him in snuggly with sleeping buddy and showed him how to cuddle his Monkey. also Leaving the door 3/4 open made a BIG difference! She always closed it so he would not wake brother. He was scared of the dark all that time. Lastly, we took him by the hand and showed him where we were sitting while he was in bed and asked if he could hear us? He said yes, asked a few more questions and that was the last screaming melt down he ever had after 1 1/2 yrs! Always Hope. God Bless your loving efforts.

  3. Michelle says

    We did this for a while, but now that our daughter is obsessed with chapter books, she doesn’t want to turn off the light. We start the routine at 8 and expect her to turn off the light and go to sleep at 9. What do you do when they just want to stay up passed what you deem as reasonable?

    • says

      They haven’t tried to stay up past 8 very many times. Big M has started telling time so he sometimes tries to get himself passed a certain number but he is always to tired to go much further.

      Have you tried just letting her read until she can’t keep her eyes open? She might be old enough to “feel” the consequence of being so tired the next day… or she might be asleep at 9:03. (It is really hard to stop reading!)

      • Kristen says

        What about letting her go to bed to read like a half hour earlier, that way she can read longer but still goes to bed at the time you wish?
        Just an idea

        • Laura says

          Yeah, that would be my suggestion, too – “If you want to read a lot, you’ll need to start earlier to make sure you have time to read.” I would stay up all night if my parents had let me…so I’d either say “lights out” at a certain time, or if you feel she’s old enough, let her stay up all night and reap the consequences the next day. Chances are she’ll only do that once or twice…and if it becomes a habit that disturbs the rest of the family, “I can’t let you choose to stay up late any longer because it hurts the family, so from now on, lights out at 9″ or “from now on, you’ll be going to your room for a nap if you are rude to your family members.”

      • Kim N says

        I’d love to hear if your reader learned to go to sleep on their own or had to be given a bedtime. My 7 year old usually has a bedtime of 8. On several occasions, my husband has told him he could read after tucking him in but hubby forgot to go back and tell him it was time for lights out. We found him at 10:30 still reading! This has happened several times. He seems to be a night owl by nature (like me), but I want him to learn better sleep habits than I did. Any suggestions or insight?

      • joan says

        This sounds like my daughter (now 32y). We quickly came to understand that she was a night owl. We’d go through the bedtime routine, but she’d stay awake reading for hours. She continued this habit–even through college–until she had her own children and sleep finally became precious to her!

    • Kylie M says

      When we were kids growing up,our bedtime was always at 8, but if we were in bed by 7:30, we could stay up reading until 8:30. It not only taught us that reading was a reward and not a punishment, but it also got us in bed earlier – extra bonus points for mom!

  4. Liz says

    I can see this working, but I have just one 4 yr old and I play with her all day and so does daddy when he gets home, the thing is that we feel bad when we ask her to go play by herself for a while just so we can talk. I dunno if our guilt will let us do this succesfully.

    • says

      Liz… it sounds like you and your husband could use a little alone time! Playing by herself isn’t a punishment. Learning how to entertain yourself is an important skill. You just might get two bonuses out of this technique! Good luck and NO GUILT!

      • Erin says

        I completely agree! They need to learn how to play by themselves! Especially if you ever decide to have more kids! They can’t expect 100% attention from adults for the rest of their lives! It will only help in school too! Good luck!

    • says

      It makes for a much nicer evening… for everyone! The funny part was that after a week of not battling at bedtime I stopped wishing they would be asleep. It removed the stress so I was stretching story time and spending more time with them. Without the battle looming in the distance, I could enjoy the bedtime process more. I’m sure once you give it a try you will be able to make it work for your situation so that everyone is happy!

  5. Patty says

    My husband and I started doing this with our 3 year old a few months ago. We have her all ready for bed at 645-7ish and then she looks at books quietly in her room. I would say 95% of the time she is ready for be before 8pm. When she is ready for bed she comes out for hugs and then I tuck her in.

  6. Larissa says

    We’ve used this concept with our children and the great part about doing it with your first, and then subsequently having more children…they learn the process off the older one. So the ‘battle’ we had with our first at around 2yrs old, wasn’t even an issue when we had our second child. She just saw what her big brother was doing (they share a room) and we had no battle with her. We have three children now, and when the baby is old enough to move in with her sister, same thing; wonderful bedtimes.
    I always feel for the parents that have to stay with their child until they fall asleep. My alone time is so precious starting at 7:30pm. I don’t know what kind of a mother I’d be without it!

    • says

      Thank you so much for sharing this Larissa! Do you mind if I pull this up into the post? I think it would be really helpful for other parents and I want to make sure everyone sees it.

      • Larissa says

        Absolutely! Anything that will help parents get through a tough bedtime routine is so important! I’m so glad this has worked for us, and you have done so well to highlight it for parents who are struggling!

    • Kristine says

      Larissa, can you describe a bit more how it works with kiddos sharing a room? Are they all in there playing together? Or do you have one of them play in a different room? My two share, but I am imagining if they are in there together playing til they are “ready”, we’ll have lots of squabbles and similar issues. They’re almost 4 and almost 2 1/2. Thanks!

      • says

        Hi Kristine! It’s been a while since your comment. Did you end up giving it a try? M and M share a room. They are a bit older than your two, but we don’t have many issues with squabbles. Arguing or the opposite (wildness) calls for bedtime.

        For the most part they are ready for bed at the same time but once in a while one of them will want to stay up a little longer. When that happens we pull them a closer to the hall, turn out the bedroom light and remind them to be respectfully quiet for their sibling.

        good luck.. I would love to hear how it goes.

        Jillian

  7. kat childress says

    my son’s 2-1/2 now and i’ve been doing this since he was around 16 months old or so. it works great! he chooses when he wants to go into his room (no later than 7pm – he usually goes in around 5:30 or 6pm) and basically decides when he wants to go to bed (usually falls asleep between 8pm-9pm). he sleeps better and it’s less stressful for him and us. i do this with his naptime too, but usually he just has a 1-1/2 hour “quiet time” because he stopped the naps but his doc recommended a quiet time around the same time as his nap would be. and he’s so much better when he’s rested even if it’s just playing in his room.

    • says

      Samantha,
      I don’t have twins but M and M are only 18 months apart. They share a room and I think it’s actually neat for them to get this quiet time to play and chat together as they wind down. Good luck. ;)

      • Hope says

        Mine are 18 months apart & share a room as well-I’m having a huge trouble with nap time…the older one keeps the younger one awake or wakes him up. I’m at my wits end here with naps & bedtime. I really don’t know what to do.

      • Brandi says

        I have 23 month old twins also and nap/bed time has been a huge challenge since switching to toddler beds a few months ago. My question is, if one child comes out do you put them both to bed? Then how do you enforce keeping them in bed if they decide they don’t want to sleep then? Separate rooms are not an option for us. Ideas?

        • Krista says

          I have 4 year old twins and I am wondering this as well because I am certain it will happen. Willing to try anything!

          • Bethann says

            Twins here as well…mine are 3. I have a total of 4 boys under 4 years old and they share 2 bedrooms. I’m not sure how this would work in our house…any suggestions or ideas??

          • Melissa says

            We have three of our boys in one room. The offender, if only one, gets moved to our room while the other two get to stay in their room until we are ready for bed. The offender is always one of the younger two, and either one has always fallen asleep before we were ready to go to bed ourselves. If you want your room, there’s always the couch or a pallet on the floor in the living room for the one who’s causing problems. Ours are easy for hubby to transport back to bed still sleeping, too. And, they’ve been told they’ll be moved, so they aren’t surprised to full-wakefulness when they are moved. We have a spare/guest room away from the other rooms that is our back-up room for a second offender, though not all have that option. It also doesn’t sound like anyone in this part was asking about more than 2 in a room, though.

            I should add that my younger two boys have been known to come in our room during the night often to sleep, so it’s not really a punishment to come in there when necessary. But, it is when the other two are still in their room together, and we aren’t in the room at the time!

  8. says

    Thanks for the supportive words, Jillian! You’ve actually given me hope in the nightmare that is often bedtime around my house :p My twin boys (almost three) tend to egg each other on and are not exactly calming forces in each other’s lives…that said, who knows? Maybe they’ll stay in their rooms (even if they do mess it up) at bedtime. I’ll give it a try. Gulp.
    Samantha recently posted..30 Second Mom Twitter Party: Talking Travel With Kids

    • says

      M and M are the same way… but that is one of the rules. If they are wild … lights out. I’ve been very surprised at how calm they are and how well they occupy the space together. Good luck. We all need a little “rest time”.

  9. AbsolutelyKathy says

    I have a question for my friend. She has a 3 year old and a 5 year old. Both can’t sleep by themselves. They have to be sleeping with either my friend or her husband. The boy will sleep though the night as long as he knows his dad or mom is in the bed with him. The girl will get up multiple times a night crying or asking for food. What would you recommend them try? I sent her the link to this post to read and maybe try with her kids.

    • says

      Oh boy that is rough! Well the first thing I would ask is do your friend and her husband want the kids to sleep by themselves? Some parents prefer co sleeping. If what they are looking for is kids that sleep in their own bed through the night I would say they have a few sleepless nights ahead. Sleeping alone, and self soothing back to sleep are skills that have to be learned and practiced. Being firm and consistent are the best practices. If they set rules that both parents can stick to ahead of time it will be easier. Working together and knowing what our plan is always helps my husband and I when setting up to make drastic changes. If your friend is interested have her come here and leave me a comment. I would love to help anyway that I can. I know what nasty bedtimes are like… and I want all parents to get some downtime. ;)

      • AbsolutelyKathy says

        Thank You. I have sent her the link and told her she should leave you a comment. I do believe they both want the kids to sleep in their own beds by themselves. Because right now most nights the husband is in the big bed with the boy and my friend sleeps in the little girls room with the girl. They both don’t believe in the crying it out approach. So I have been trying to help her come up with some ideas. I will pass along your advice and tell her to talk to you. Thank you so much for the advice. I am glad I found your blog though pinterest.

      • Paxton says

        This is my problem! We don’t have too many battles before bed because we’ve always kind of implemented the “you choose when you sleep” but they usually don’t get to play, just read books in bed. BUT then they both wake up multiple times at night until we just give in and let them sleep in our room :-P I hate it! But We spent a month of sleepless nights trying to put them back in their bed every night and it wasn’t worth the grouch that I was becoming. Now at least they each only wake up about twice instead of every hour… but I would still love to wake up without a baby foot in my face!

        • says

          Gosh it sounds like you could really use a good night sleep! Little M was waking up in the night for a while (felt like a very long while) even though she stayed in her bed it was exhausting being woken up several times through out the night. Her problem was bad dreams. I found a handful of children’s books about dreams and we did a few activities to match the books. It solved the waking up problem for us. I don’t know if your little ones are having bad dreams but if you look at these books as a way to encourage good dreams they might work for your situation?!?! Here are the books and activities I found. Good luck… I hope you are all sleeping soundly very soon. http://amomwithalessonplan.com/category/dreams/

    • JF says

      I had this problem until recently. My daughter is 4 and a half and has been co-sleeping with us since she was baby. Tried and failed numerous times to get her to fall asleep (and stay asleep on her own) for a looooong time. This is what worked for us (proud to say that she’s on her third night of sleeping alone in her room (all through the night)!

      1) A few months ago, we brought her bed into our bedroom, and put it beside ours (with about a foot gap between). We got her “on board” at first, hyping up the “big girl bed” while she was still awake, and yes – we used bribery as well (more on that later). Bed time was at the same time, snuggles, kisses. I had to be on the side facing her, but as long as she could see me she was ok. The first night was very tough – she cried quite a bit. Every time she would start to cry, I would remind her that she promised to try and that she’d get to pick a “surprise” in the morning. After her first morning, I let her dig into a bag full of dollar store toys and pick one, and put a sticker on her calendar. After that – she was sold! Very excited for surprise, of course – but also very proud of her stickers.

      2. Two months later – she expressed some interest in a bunk bed she had seen at her cousin’s house. We told her, you can have a bunk bed but you have to sleep in your OWN room for the whole night – and if you do we’ll get you one tomorrow. Sure enough – she did it! We went to get her bunk bed (actually it’s a loft bed, but same thing to her), and she was very excited. We set up a “touch lamp” next to it and told her that she can turn it on any time she likes, and that we would say good night and she can look at her book and turn it off when she was ready to sleep (see above article). It worked!!

      So – sorry for that long-winded reply, but if your friends are still having issues – maybe that will help. I’m not a fan of the cry-it-out method, so this was the easiest transition we could muster and so far it’s working. :)

  10. Kira says

    This is exactly what we need! DD5 and DSalmost3 have shared a room for about a year. DS is mostly the bedtime delayer (as was DD at that age). DD goes straight to sleep about 90% of the time, but the boy has other plans in mind.
    We will definitely be trying this tonight! Thanks!

  11. says

    We did this with our 2.5 year old. She was screaming and waking up her 1 year old roommate every night. She would say, “I CAN’T GO TO SLEEP”. Finally, I gave up and I said, “You don’t have to go to sleep.”

    We are a little stricter with our rules though. She isn’t allowed to get out of bed, but she can play with her books and stuffed animals that take up most of her space! We also keep her light off and she only has a small amount of light from the hall shining in. No more crying. Sometimes I hear her talking to her animals about 20 minutes after we put her down, but she is almost always asleep in 15-20 minutes!

    So moral is….this technique works with wee little ones too!

    • says

      Love it! I like your modifications. This technique works so well because it is easy to modify. I am going to be bringing up a few of these younger kid examples and adding them to the post. Do you mind if I use your comment?

  12. says

    I like the sound of this. The only thing I wonder is that my daughter uses the “I need to go to the toilet” excuse to keep coming out of her room. As she has only just turned 3 and has only been without nappies overnight for a few months, we find it very hard to say, “Stay in bed” (despite her having already been to the toilet etc)… It would be interesting to see if she stopped doing that because that means sleep time..? She already chats and plays with her stuffed animals for ages. hmmmm lol (you’ve certainly given me something to think about) Debs :)
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    • says

      UGH! The potty trick is a tough one. It’s so scary to not let them go. Keep me posted… it would be really great if you could help both problems with one trick.

      • Becky says

        We’ve done something similar to this for our DDs bedtime. She goes up to bed but then is allowed to watch a movie and play. The movie is set on a sleep timer for 30 minutes. She is allowed to play with her toys on the floor but when the movie goes off that means its time to head to bed. Its still setting up a bedtime for her but it makes her feel like she is more in charge as there isn’t an adult there telling her what to do. We have snuck a peek many nights at the 30 minute mark and sure enough when the tv goes dark she gathers her things and climbs up in bed. Its actually quite cute. We did run into the “potty trick” though and I solved the problem by placing a child size potty in the room for her to use thus eliminating the need to come out of the room. She did make a point of using it the first couple of nights because it was something “new” to do…..but when the newness wore off potty breaks were totally forgotten about.

  13. Kim says

    oh my goodness! When I was reading this I totally thought you were talking about MY kids and house at bedtime!! I hate having to “yell” at them to go to sleep so I’m really hoping this works for my kids! Thank you for posting this!

  14. Kristal says

    This post was just for me. This week has been crazy and I wanted to tear my hair out. Last night my girls kept coming out of bed while I was folding laundry and then they wanted to put it away. A first, since chores are not something they voluntarily want to do. They would do anything rather than go to bed. So I said, “You girls can stay up and clean, or you can go to bed. Once you stop cleaning, or start playing, then I know you want to go to bed.” It worked! One of them went to bed and stayed there, the oldest picked up toys for 20 minutes before going to bed. I’ll have to give your method a try. Sounds like it might work.:)

  15. Kathryn says

    I may have to give this a try again. My boys (5 and 3) eventually fell asleep with this method, but not until almost 10:00! They just kept going and going and then would be cranky the next day. I gave up after a few days. Right now I sit in the room with them reading my kindle (to myself) for 20 to 30 minutes. If they aren’t asleep by then, I tell them that I will check on them in a little while. I would really love this to work for my boys and I LOVE hearing other people’s problems with getting kids to sleep. I am not alone! :)

    • says

      You are definitely not alone! Posting this article has shown me just how many people struggle with bedtime! I really think the key to this method is making sure the activities they are doing are quiet and not stimulating. Just a couple of nights ago my Hubs and I stayed upstairs while they had their quiet time. They stayed up way past their usually sleep time and I think it was because we were there to keep them charged.

  16. SamanthaP says

    I would like to try this but I think the hardest part will be getting my son to comprehend the idea that he cannot come out of his room until he’s ready to go to sleep. How do you explain that to a 2-yr-old? I’m afraid he’ll just come out of his room anyway and I’ll end up having to force him to go to bed right then (to enforce the rule) and it’ll be an unpleasant struggle. Maybe after a few nights of that he’ll start to “get it”? Hmm it’s worth a shot though!

    • says

      I know this technique will be a little tricky with younger kids… but oh boy if you figure it out!!! It would have saved us YEARS of nasty bed time. Come back and tell us how it went. There are a lot of parents who could use your insight.

      • SamanthaP says

        Baby #2 is on the way so I’m hoping to master this with #1, since others have mentioned that the younger ones pick it up easier as they see their older siblings do it! :) I’ll be back with insight if (when!) I find success! lol

        • Karole H says

          I tell my kids there are 3 bed rules.
          1. lay down
          2. hold still
          3. close your eyes.

          That might be helpful to use when he does come out of his room, and you have to put him in bed. I don’t tell my kids they have to go to sleep because I have found that, that just makes them want to stay awake.

  17. Tenessa says

    I tried this last night. Worked really well!! They played quietly for an hour and then told me they wanted to go to sleep. Laid them down with no fuss but a half hour later they were crying to go to my bed. Any tips on keeping them in their own bed?

    • says

      Do they sleep with you often? We never let the kids in our bed… but I know there are a lot of parents who like co sleeping. Are you a follower on my Facebook Page? Maybe we could ask some other readers for ideas? What do you think?

      • Tenessa says

        With our oldest we co-slept until he was 2. Then, he went to his bed for about a year and I started giving in when my husband was working nights so I didn’t have to sleep alone. My youngest was in his own bed from the start until he was old enough to realize it wasn’t fair that his older brother was in our bed…
        It’s honestly not about them sleeping with us to them though. It’s the comfort of our bed and room. My husband and I have retreated to their full size bed while they sleep in our room because there’s just no room left in there to try and fight for space.

        • says

          This is my go to answer for everything… why not ask the kids? If it is that they like your room / bed better what would make them want to stay in their rooms? What would make their bed more comfortable? A different type of pillow? A night light? A softer blanket? I can not tell you how many times I have sat down with M and M asking their opinion. “So we have this problem. How do you think we can solve it?”

          • Linda says

            I don’t know if this would help any but I do know it works well with the little ones. Kids (and adults) have a very keen sense of smell. The smell of their parents is very calming to children and makes them feel secure. When our little ones were sick and wouldn’t stay in their beds, we would take one of our used pillowcases off our pillow and put it on theirs, or put daddy’s tshirt over their pillow and it kept them in their beds. Or, you can sleep on your sheets for a night or two and then put them on your kids bed. Then they will smell like mommy and daddy. Whether it will work for the older kids, I don’t know, but if I was desperate I sure would try anything.

          • says

            That is a very interesting idea! I bet it would help for when parents have to go out of town, or for when kids have sleep overs as well. Thanks!

          • Jackie says

            When I was young, the “Mommy-smell” was amazing. My mom would taker her old nightgowns and make little pillows for us so that we had something that smelled like her to comfort us. Sometimes she would just let us sleep with one of her nightgowns like a blankie. Worked like a charm, and I still feel relaxed today when I hug her and smell that same old scent!

  18. says

    I’m home with my 2 year old son all day, so he’s used to having me play with him quite a bit. I’m positive that he would simply keep coming out to play with us rather than stay in his room. Would you suggest continuing to take him back to his room? Staying in and playing with him until he gets the hang of it? I don’t think I’d be able to shut him in there; we’ve got a pretty “open door” household and I think he’d interpret that as a punishment.

    • says

      Honestly I think knowing what you are comfortable with from the beginning will be a huge help for you! Maybe playing with him for a bit and then leaving for a while and then coming back. If you did this and stretched the time he might just get used to it. I’d love to hear how it goes… good luck!

  19. Britt says

    Def gonna try with my kids, thinking should work good with 4 year old but like many others commented on, getting my 18month old to comprehend the idea of staying in the room may be difficult, If anyone comes up with good idea please post. :)

    • says

      From what others have said, it might be good to get stared with your 4 year old… that way when your younger one kids a little older you’ll already have the system in place. Let me know how it works!

  20. says

    Fabulous! I had bedtime issues with my first child, but I don’t have any problems with these last two children.

    My tip? Bedtime stories by Jim Weiss (I have never met this man nor do I benefit from promoting his bedtime stories). I would put my daughter to bed and she would listen to one of his CDs. These CDs will put anyone to sleep in minutes – tricky. I also used this when she would have sleepovers to get the girls to go to sleep. At a certain point all the girls would get into their sleeping bags and “stay up” to listen to the bedtime stories. You never heard a peep out of them.

    I recently recommended this tip to a friend and she said it worked like a charm.

  21. Jamie says

    We sort of do this but it doesn’t really work for us. I have a 4 1/2 boy and a 2 1/2 girl who share a room (not ideal but we’re stuck with it for now). I put them to bed and they are allowed to play or read quietly in their beds. My 2 1/2 year old is usually asleep with 1/2 an hour. But my 4 1/2 year old will play quietly until 10, 11, even 12!! He gets up every morning between 8 and 830. It doesn’t seem to matter what time I wake him he still goes to bed late. Most nights I’m like will you go to sleep so I can go to sleep?! I am at a total loss with him and I feel like I’ve tried everything.

    • says

      Jamie,
      I don’t know how I missed this comment back in April! I am so sorry.

      My kids share a room too. We don’t have a choice either, but I’m kind of glad they do. There is something fun about them being together, and I know being boy/girl we’ll have to separate them eventually. I’m glad they get this time now.

      I am not a night person so those late hours would be so hard for me! Do you think it’s possible he just doesn’t need that much sleep? I know you said it doesn’t matter what time you wake him. Have you tried waking him at an early time regularly for 2 weeks? 8 am would be scary late at our house. Mine are “you may not get out of bed until you see the 6″ type of kids. Maybe it’s just a matter of moving his routine to a different time schedule.

      Again so sorry for the late response. If you have any other questions please let me know!

  22. Anna says

    I think I will have to give this a try with my kids. I’m not sure how yet. I have a 3 year old and a 15 month old who share a room. The younger one is ready for bed around 6:30 while the oldest one isn’t. Hmmm, we might have to figure something out here. I also work full time too, but like my own time to relax and get caught up on laundry.

    • says

      Anna, Is there a space just outside the room that the 3 year old could be in without disturbing the little one? There are a few others who have commented that figuring out a system like this with the first child made it so easy to transition the younger ones. You most definitely need your down time… makes for more peaceful mornings. :) If you find a way that works will you please come back here to let us know? There are a lot of other who could use any tips possible!

      • Anna says

        I tried this last night and it worked great. What we ended up doing was since my youngest still nurses himself to sleep. Instead of feeding him in their room while our daughter is out I switched it and my daughter stayed in their room and played. I feed my son and when he fell asleep I layed him in our bed until our daughter fell asleep. That way I didn’t have to worry about my son waking up from my daughter.

        • says

          What a wonderfully creative solution! Thank you for letting me know that it worked for you. I hope it keeps working and you enjoy many restful evening.

          • Anna says

            Thanks, our plan is to slowly start feeding my son earlier so he falls asleep on his own, but first we want to get his sister use to the new routine. She has been the problem all along with not wanting to go to bed and sleep.

  23. StephJ says

    Many of you have two in one room, as do we (my two older girls, 6 and 4). How do you work it out so that one doesn’t disturb the other if they want to sleep?

    I am very interested in trying this technique to get more quiet time for DH and I.

    • says

      M and M are in the same room (6 and 5). There have been a few occasions where one of them has wanted to sleep and the other is not ready. For those times we have the “awake” kid move closer to the door so they can play by hall light. In all the time we’ve been using this technique it has only been a handful of times that this has been an issue. I think they decide together when to go to bed. The alone time they get with each other has been wonderful. They play along side each other and once in a while together. Good luck and enjoy a little Hubby time.

  24. Heather says

    I have been doing this for a long time with my 20 month old. I will put her in the crib for nap time, but if she does not feel like a nap, she will play quietly for about an hour and a half. I have found that even if she does not sleep, we both come out more relaxed. Since I have been doing it for so long, I rarely have issues with her crying. At night, we put her to bed at about 8pm. Most nights she comes to us around that time and says ‘Night, night!’

    I thought I would feel guilty hearing her fuss, but the benefits far out way that. To be a good parent, you have to have the Adult time!

  25. Donna says

    Well… he didn’t come out of his room… but he also didn’t sleep. At all. For three days straight. Oh he finally passed out on day 4… at 2 in the afternoon. =/

    • says

      Oh No!!! You must be exhausted. What did he do all night? How old is he? What did you do when you were ready for bed? I really, really want to help. (and you must really, really need a break!)

  26. Hannah says

    To the parents who have children coming into their room several times a night: I have a friend who’s son did this every night for weeks because he hated to sleep alone. They got a set of walkie talkies and placed one with the son and kept one in their room. They told him anytime he was scared to just use the walkie talkie and they would answer to let him know they were still there and everything was ok. The first night he still went into their room to “make sure”, but after the 4th night, he stopped with the walkie too. He had the reassurance and I guess eventually realized they are always there if he needs them and nothing bad happened when he slept in his own room.

  27. Brittany says

    Our 2.5 yr old started her terrible NON-sleeping habits when hubby went on a 1 week rotation for school away from home. I was with her by myself and 8 mo prego. Of course she woke up the first night sick with a fever and the whole week was hard for us both. I was praying to not get sick!

    Then he was home for the next week for spring break.

    Then he was gone for another 1 week rotation.

    All this change in daddy’s schedule messed everything up!

    Then we had my in-laws come to help out for the weekend to give us a break and help prepare meals for after the baby arrived, and help fix up the house a bit (we are moving soon and selling our home). Having them over also messed with nap time. ARGH!!!

    Then the next week the baby was born and the in-laws came back to stay with our daughter. Another change—- you get the picture.

    I made a day schedule for her while hubby was on his 2nd rotation that pictures everything we do on a daily basis- wake up when it’s light outside, get ready for the day, eat, play, and then our bedtime routine…

    She loved the idea and would point out everything on the chart. But now she asks for everything under the sun before going to bed….please rub my back (what we did when she was sick), please put my head down, please close my eyes (seriously?!?!?!), please fix my blanket (nothing wrong with blanket), etc. Then once that is all over after our usual planned routine, she comes out of her room over and over again. The rule is, if you come out of your room you get a time out. After 3 time outs she finally falls asleep.

    Then like clock work she gets up 3x during the night and comes to our room. AHHH!! With a newborn and her throughout the night we can’t get any sleep!

    We try to let her be in control with her night time routine. We let her pick out her pajamas (or try to). She LOVES to procrastinate and will sit there and stare at her drawer or just sit there and refuse to do it, and then says, “mommy wants to pick” and if we do try to pick, it’s not the right one, none of them are the right ones. So it’s back to raising our voices and telling her if she doesn’t pick then we are leaving her room (which starts another tantrum).

    We’ve even had to close her door and hold it shut until she falls asleep crying at the door because she kept getting out and going to time out and not listening. Oh, by the way, she loves to say, “I can’t listen”- which leads to more time outs or not getting to do something fun the next day.

    We are desperate for any ideas! We’ll give this a shot, but she is very stubborn and will stay up for hours and hours… even if she misses a nap for some reason. I hope to try this tonight!!

    • Brittany says

      Did I forget to mention that hubby is graduating, and family is coming for that, then we are moving?!?! How can we keep a good routine/try this idea of you pick when you go to bed when you are ready with so much change this year?

      • says

        Hi Brittany,
        I was out of town for the weekend. Just wanted to see how your weekend went? Did you end up sticking to the bed time technique?

    • says

      Brittany! AHHHH!!! That is a lot on your plate… a good bedtime (along with a good night sleep) would probably make a huge difference for everyone. Try it out just as I wrote it and note any issues you have or need help with. You can try leaving a comment while in the process. If I’m on the computer I’ll answer asap. I would love to walk you through it and make this as easy as possible.

      I think having a good bedtime routine will only help with the up coming changes. It will be something that your daughter can rely on as fact and take comfort in know the way it will be no matter who is there.

      My Little M is about as stubborn as they come and this works like a charm for her. Remember getting her into her room BEFORE you want her sleeping is important. I want them out by 8 so we try to have them in pjs, book read, teeth brushed by 7. (Doesn’t work every night, but because the routine is in place we can be flexible.)

      Good luck and remember… I’m here for you. ;)

  28. Kerry says

    I do this with the child I look after. By the time it’s his bed time, I am exhausted – I babysit in German and it is very tiring to use a foreign language. After his bath and teeth brushed, he goes into his room, practices piano for a few minutes then ‘reads’ quietly until he’s ready to sleep. I then go in later and turn the light off. Works wonderfully. Sometimes he’s asleep within 10 minutes, sometimes within an hour.

    • says

      It’s a beautiful thing when kids can hear their own bodies tell them it’s time to sleep. What a lucky little boy to have such a wonderful care taker. Thanks for sharing.

  29. Debbie says

    I just happened on this awesome advice on pinterest today and am at the point of trying anything. I have 2 sharing a room – 6 year-old girl and 3 year-old boy. The 6 year old has always been great at going to bed when needed, but the 3 year old sometimes keeps her up with his constant up and down at night. Reading Brittany’s post made me laugh and realize that I have a normal child. Her story about her daughter’s stubborness and the examples she used sounds frighteningly familiar. We have been doing the same thing that you described in your original post – screaming and impatience that we don’t normally choose to do during the day. It just feels like he thinks it is a big game. We have tried the supernanny approach – quietly putting back to bed without expression on face or making a sound – but he has tested it out every night and doesn’t seem to improve in playing his game. We have tried timeouts, we have tried staying in the room and falling asleep and leaving when he is asleep…seems like every approach out there.
    Until today. :) I put them down at 7:15, hoping for an 8:00 bedtime – the 6 year old came and got me at 8 without me prompting her…gave me encouragement for the boy…it is now 8:30 and i can hear him still looking through his stories…holding on for stubborness sake? :) I will keep at this and keep you posted on their improvement. My fingers are crossed that my prayers have been answered. :) Thank you for posting this experience of yours for others to receive help from!!!

    • says

      Debbie,
      I can’t wait to hear more! Every once in a while Big M will get the “I want to stay up late” bug but it rarley goes a half hour past the time I want it to. Tonight my Mom watched the kids right at bedtime. She said Big M came down, and she asked what he needed. “I want to go to sleep.” I am thrilled that we don’t have to be present for this to work. Good luck… I hope it works your family too!
      Jill

  30. Vanessa says

    We have 2 kids, ds7, dd6. My husband works shifts and is gone for most bedtimes. We have always laid down with our kids until they’re asleep. No crying, no fuss. When either is home alone, the kids sleep in our bed. When we’re both home, we each lie down with a child in their own room until they fall asleep. They are always allowed to come into our bed if they wake at night… Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. We told them that when Daddy’s home there isn’t enough room for all of us now that they are so big. They understand and get that, so there’s no complaints of sleeping in their rooms. But now we think we’re all ready to start falling asleep on their own. So… We’re thinking of doing your routine… But we know that they will want a cuddle before sleep (who wouldn’t?). We were thinking we could give them a cuddle when they come and get us… But what we really want is for them to sleep in their own beds through the night as there has been times when they both come into our bed a night and daddy ends up getting pushed out. Would love to hear any feedback you have :)

    • says

      Vanessa,
      It sounds like your family has a wonderful routine that has worked really well for your family. I bet a transition into a new routine will be easy for you! Mine are 6 and 5. It’s been almost a year since we started this and I am still amazed everyday. Just last night Little M, who is 5 said she wanted to go right to sleep (we were getting them to bed a little late). She kissed us good night and Big M quietly moved his Lego’s to the hall. He was so respectful of his sister it was touching. It was about 15 minutes later that he asked to go to bed. It’s so wonderful for us but the most incredible part is they are learning how to listen to their own bodies and sleep when they need to!

      My only real suggestion for you is that you might want to try the cuddles while you are getting them ready for bedroom rest time. Once they are ready for sleep you don’t want to risk recharging them or letting a “second wind” take hold. Of course I sounds like you are very aware of what works with your kids and what is most comfortable for you will probably be the best thing to do!

      please let me know how it works!
      Jillian

  31. Crystal says

    I love this idea going to try it when my son gets older. My son is 1.5 and has slept with my husband and me or in the same room since he was born. Any tips on how to get him to go to sleep in his own room and bed? We can’t let him cry it out because we live with grandparents and they will go get him and then Rick him to sleep. I hate bed time, my husband and I very rarely get time to our selves. We have gotten to the point where we will let the babe fall asleep with us put him in his bed when he is asleep but he wakes up about 2-4 and then ends up back with us. Any tips or tricks would be appreciated.

    • says

      I had a ton of friends in your boat before I had kids… so we made a strict rule of no kids in our bed from day one. Do you mind if I post your question on my Facebook Page to see if anyone with experience has any tips for you? I know you want advice that works, a relaxing bedtime makes everything better.

    • Ashley says

      we let our little one (14 months at that time, 15 months now) watch us put her bed together, and as soon as it was up she climbed right into it and went to bed that night. now we let her play until she signs sleepy, then we say, “okay, climb into bed and lay down.” then she sleeps all night. sometimes her quiet play lasts until 10, but at least it is quiet play, and I can still get some things done and have a few minutes to myself. maybe let your little one choose the bed and blankets to go on it. Then let them watch you put it together, then say, “try it out, you might like it.”

  32. Shannon says

    Hello ~ Love your post! Have a couple for questions. I have 2.5 year old twin boys who share a room. They are still in their cribs (they play, sing, scream, and sometimes cry for a 1 or 2 hours before falling asleep) but have started climbing out and having a party (ripping blinds off the window, slamming closet door, throwing the sound machine around ~ general craziness!) We have a new baby and are potty training. We had hoped to hold off on big boy beds but crib tents have been recalled. I have though about creating a bedtime chart with photos to help with the new routine, playing soft music or books on tape, having special night time toys, and putting a gate with a door in it to prevent wandering at night. How would you handle a bad case of the sillies and destructive behavior? I am worried about naptime they play for an 1 or 2 hours and then sleep for an 1 or 2 hours ~ A bit worried about nap time. Could you suggest a daily schedule? Any advise would be amazingly helpful! LOVE your site. Thank-you Shannon

    • says

      Shannon,
      Your ideas about a chart with pictures and soft music all sound wonderful! Have you put the plan into action yet? I bet doing all of that would ease the silliness. I know since Big M was little the more tired he gets the less control he seems to have over his actions. It’s when we let bedtime get too late that things go wrong. Nap time can be a struggle too! The readers on my Facebook page have been really helpful offering sleep time suggestions for other readers. Would you mind if I share your nap time concerns there and see what brilliant ideas they come up with?
      Jillian

      • Shannon says

        Thank-you:) I haven’t put it into action yet. I decided to really make a big deal with the new big boy room. We are going to redo their room in a space theme, got an Elmo big boy bed book and video, create quite play boxes, and practice the diffrence between quite and loud by playing the quite/silly game, we got each of them a ladybug that puts stars on the ceiling , and set up and iPod with white noise and soft music and kids books. Over kill? We hope to have it all together in a couple of days. Thank you for the feedback:) I would love to hear from the wonderful ladies on your Facebook page. Thank you again Shannon – a really tried Mom of three kids 2.5 and under.

        • says

          I don’t think that is overkill at all! sounds fab. I can’t wait to hear how it goes. In the meantime I will ask for some nap time advice on my page and give you the link when I do. (Tomorrow or Friday).

  33. Shannon says

    I forget to mention that we are also creating a social story which is like a book that explains what is expected.

    When we go night night we….
    Thank you Shannon

  34. Kat says

    Just tried this with our 20 month old daughter. On her first night in her big girl bed she got up 6 times. I read this post and tried it on night two. She comprehended more than we thought she would. We told he since she was a big girl she could play and read until she was ready to sleep. Within 10 minutes she came to get us. We explained that meant she was ready to sleep. We started our routine of book, song and prayer and 1/2 through the book she said “sleep?”. It was perfect from there. She didn’t get up once. So glad we learned about this so early. Especially since little brother will be arriving in 3 months.

  35. Briana says

    I just found this post via pinterest and am so ready to try this asap! My son is 26 months old and has a big boy bed and our usual routine is book, prayer, hugs and kisses and then mommy or daddy get to sit outside his room for at least 30 mins! Yay! (note sarcasm) I do have a few concerns, knowing my little one so well. First, I expect he’ll be out of his room real quick and want to know what your suggestion is there. He has a new little sister, only a month old, and hasn’t had too much playing alone time at all without someone close by. I just don’t want a struggle when he realizes that now that he is out of his room, play time is over.
    Second, he almost always gets out of bed at least once during the night and comes in our room. Being the wiggleworm he is, we take him back to bed rather than let him stay with us, another kiss, tell him its time for ni-night and we sit there for another 20 minutes until hes back to sleep again.
    Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!
    -Briana

    • says

      Briana,
      Sounds like you could use a good switch in your routine. I’m sure 1/2 an hour feels so long when your ready to relax for the night. One thing you could try for keeping him in his room longer on the first few tries is to make sure the toys are ones you know will engage him. What does he have that will hold his attention? Maybe something he hasn’t seen in a while or something that is fairly new. (Make sure they are quiet, relaxing toys.)

      You could also wait until he’s closer to being ready for bed so the quiet time is less. I’d be really careful though, I know for my kids there is a very fine line between tired and overtired. Overtired is the only time we ever have a problem.

      Good luck! Let me know how it works for you. ;)

  36. Windy says

    I feel inspired!!! Bedtime has always been a struggle! Every summer I get him (my 4 year old) into a bedtime routine. Then in August when I go back to work, it falls apart; he protests in various ways and I feel guilty that our time together is limited. This past year I just gave up…my little guy goes to bed when I do. The hubs and I have no time to ourselves in the evening. I’m going to try your idea tonight!

  37. Levi says

    My daughter is turning 3 in the next two weeks. We kind of have this system in place when it comes to her bed time, at 8:30pm every night we put her in her jammies and place her under the covers and pop on her favorite movie to watch…. my question is how do I keep her in her room without a fight? She keeps coming out and asking for something to eat or drink, or to cuddle or to even just see what I am doing. Timeouts are starting to reflect this consistent coming out of the room behavior. How can I correct this in a positive way without yelling or spanks (because it seems to be coming down to that a lot lately and I feel like an awful mother) Like I don’t even ask her to go to bed I just tell her to go watch her movie, I’m very frustrated because she either talks back to me or she lays on the floor screaming and kicking………please…..help me…..I swear to god my neighbors think I beat my child or something by the temper tantrums she has :S

    • says

      AHHH! I feel your pain. That’s exactly how I felt before we started our routine. My first idea would be to take away the movie. (I know that probably sounds drastic!) For M and M TV stimulates them, extends their awake time, and makes for a whine filled evening. I would try puzzles, dolls, blocks, books, etc. Things she can play quietly in her room until she’s ready for sleep. With M and M the rule is one time out of their room means they are ready for sleep. That means if they come for a drink, to ask a question, or get rowdy.

      I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any more questions.

  38. Rebecca says

    Wish I would have known about this 5 years ago. My 9 year old would never go to sleep. It does work on my 7 year old, she is a dream to put to bed. She usually falls asleep by 9. Although I think that if I was to get her ready earlier she would fall asleep earlier. If I gave my 9 year old the option I don’t think he would go to sleep.

  39. Samantha says

    Oh my gosh. I have been struggling with bedtimes for what feels like forever. I have tried so many things but never would have thought about this…. It gives me hope that i might be able to get my 3 and 4 year old to sleep before 10 pm… thank you will let you know how it goes. :)

  40. Marci Ganoza says

    sadly my children are now 9 and 6 and they, well more my 6 year old has a huge issue with going to sleep. My husband has made a bad habit and laying in the room with them and playing music. I am going to start this tomorrow ASAP. Any tips for keeping them in there bed all night? My son 6 comes to sleep with me every night around 1:30 I am so use to it I don’t even hear him coming in anymore! My husband spends the rest of the night on the couch.

    Thank you and I will let you know how it goes!
    Marci

    • says

      Hi Marci!
      How were the first few nights? I don’t have any tips for keeping them in bed once they’ve gone to sleep, but I wonder if switching to this technique might solve that problem too.

      By letting them choose their own sleep time they will also be training themselves to go to sleep on their own. When they startle awake in the night maybe they will feel more confident in just going back to sleep. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you! I’m sure your husband would rather be holding your hand on the couch than laying in their room!

      Jillian

  41. kim says

    Hi Jillian. Our problem is we have to sit with our little boy until he goes to sleep, sometimes that takes five mins sometimes an hour (how did we end up in that situation, errr ….). Tried this technique and after about two minutes of playing he said was ready to go to sleep. So went in turned out the light and tucked him in. All happy and fine. But then it is the problem, what do I do now. He wants me to stay with him until he went to sleep, holding his hand. And he wasn’t very sleepy at all, but it is late and time for sleep. Talking away, and it was an hour before he went to sleep and I could leave the room. Help. Any suggestions.

    • says

      Kim,
      How old is he? I do have some ideas. I’ll be back in a bit with those but knowing how old he is will help. :)
      Jillian
      PS If you read through the comments you will see you are not the only one in a similar situation. Bedtime can be very difficult!

      • kim says

        Hi Jillian,
        Sorry I thought I included that. He is three. My addled brain. Any suggestions you have would be very, very much appreciated.

        • says

          Kim,

          3!?!?! Perfect! I bet he loves the idea of being a “BIG BOY”. You might try playing on that. Make it a big deal that big boys go to sleep on their own. Discuss what other things big boys get to do. When it comes down to it, learning to put himself to sleep will benefit him. (If that helps you feel better about it. :)) You might talk about how you put yourself to sleep. Do you stretch? Close your eyes, think about the day? Hum a song? Listen to quiet music? I love to ask my kids questions like “What do you think will be your favorite way to go to sleep?” It gets them thinking about what’s to come in a positive way.

          As far as the timing. YIKES! There is a very fine line between too early and too late. In the beginning if you wait to begin his bedroom playtime until he’s already calm and close to ready for bed it might be easier to transition. (but again we always have a problem if they are over tired when we get them in their room). Do you have toys that you know hold his attention? Cars, trains or special books? That might help him want to stay put and enjoy his play time.

          I hope this helps. Let me know if you have anymore questions and I would love to hear how it goes. :)

  42. Chole says

    Hey Jillian, a friend directed me to your site and we tried it the very next night. We have three boys, but its the older 2 we tried it on. They are almost 3 and just turned 4. So we did just as you said, got them in their room before we wanted them to sleep, non-stimulating toys, yada yada. Not even 30 min later 4 year old wants to go to sleep. We’re doing a happy dance. Well not really I was nursing their little brother, but I could have! So 3 year old plays a little longer, then comes and says hes ready too. More dancing from us.

    BUT THEN.

    they got up to go potty. then they got up bc they were “scared”, (not the real scared, but the I know I’m in trouble, pity me scared) then 4 yo had to go potty again, it carried on forever. ended in impatience and tears. failure.

    I’m pretty sure it would have worked like a charm for the almost 3 year old. but he’s not the problem. What do you do when they just will.not.stay.in.bed?

    thanks for your great idea, just need to figure it out for us.

    • Aliza says

      I really want to know the answer to this question too please as we have been doing a version of this strategy, but our two year old won’t stay in bed or her room. If she comes out and she will, so we say, time for bed, how do we keep her there without hysteria? She shares with her four year old sister who is a better sleeper and rule follower and is usually asleep first by a half an hour. Currently, we say goodnight and go downstairs and they play In The halls here there is some light (all other rooms are secured with hook and eyes). Usually problems start when the little one hits her sister or won’t get out of her bed when the older one asks, or otherwise instigates things. 4 year old is amazing at not hitting back but we have to intervene to protect her from our little scrapper (we are working with her in using words and not hitting). The little one is also starting to use the potty but wears a diaper at night. The suggestion someone had Of putting the potty in the room would be a disaster as she would dump the contents on the carpeted floor.

      • says

        Hmmm… Aliza. Your little one might just not quite be old enough for this technique. Maybe try a modified version where you are in and out of rest time, to make sure the little one is engaged for a bit. As she gets older it will be easier to leave her for longer periods of time.

  43. says

    We do a simialar thing with our 3 year old daughter. After her bed-time routine, she is allowed to “read” (she can’t read yet!) and turn her lamp off and sleep when she is ready. If she gets out of bed, she looses her “big girl” privileged of reading – we take her lamp away for the night. She feels like she has control over some aspect of bedtime, and we hardly ever have to take it away!

  44. says

    Okay…I’ve been reading the posts and comments and I’m a little skeptical…but I’m willing to try. Our daughter is 2 1/2 and an only child (at this time) and very strong-willed. It sounds like this will work…I’m going to try it and see…so please pray! any ideas for children that are strong-willed?

    • says

      Toney,
      My Little M is pretty strong willed. I think this works so well for her because she feels in control. (Even though I know it’s with in my parameters.) Good luck! I would love to hear how it goes. :)
      Jillian

  45. Ashley says

    My daughter is 2 and she often does this except she lays in my bed doing it. She always falls asleep in our bed and I put her in her bed (next to ours) shortly after. She still drinks milk every night. Help??

    • says

      Have you tried putting quiet toys in her room that will entice her to stay there? If she’s already putting herself to sleep it shouldn’t be that difficult to change the pattern. Can you close or lock your bedroom door?

    • says

      Well then this might be just the trick to get her used to playing independently! We try to make sure there are quiet toys they can’t resist.

  46. says

    my daughter is 2 she has always been a great sleeper 10-12 hours, she sleeps in a a big bed and does well. The past couple weeks she has been wanting me to lie with her at nap time and every night, if I don’t she gets out of her room 5-10 times until i give in and sit on the bed until she falls asleep. We typically start bed time around 7:30 unless she didn’t get a nap. She is also waking up 1-2 times in the middle of the night and coming into my room. I take her back to bed and leave, sometimes she comes right back. im not sure why this is happening all the sudden but its wearing me out :( I will try and see what she thinks about this new method tomorrow. Any suggestions would be appreciated :)
    Erin recently posted..My Baby Turns 1

      • says

        the 1st attempt at nap time was a HIT she fell asleep coloring which is her new thing. For bed time it didn’t go too well….she came out, so i told her it was time for bed and i put her back and she cried for 45 min :( but i did figure out that she wants the light on. I always have the lamp in her room on so she can read and play and see if she wakes up. This was the ultimate trick, all along she wanted the light on but wasn’t communicating that to me. As for waking up in the night that was still going on until last night, she slept all night and didn’t come into my room. I just hope it continues!

  47. says

    THANK YOU! We’ve been struggling with naptime for months (with my 3 year old). Today I tried this out and would NEVER have imagined him playing for 20 mins in his room then saying “I’m ready for my nap, can you tuck me in?” Amazing!

  48. Shannon says

    I really want to be able to et my kids to sleep. I never used to have an issue with my oldest whom of which is my son. He is 5 now. But when I had my daughter and she started getting a little more sassy if you will, it went down hill. I can’t get them to go to sleep sometimes until after 1am. Depending on their moods. So it scares me to try and do this…especially when they hate playing on their room too… :( help!

    • says

      Shannon,
      I was right there with you (not until 1am.. poor thing!) but it was those rough nights that had me searching for any answer. M and M will not choose to play in their room in the day but they love to play in there at rest time.
      Make sure their favorite quiet activities are available. Maybe check out some library books they haven’t seen before or bring out something they haven’t seen for a while. Once they get used to the routine they can tell you what they prefer.
      Good luck and let me know how it goes. ;)
      Jillian

  49. Jennifer G says

    I have used this “technique” successfully with our son a couple of different times. But for some reason I have gotten away from it both times. Right now we are remodeling his bedroom (so he has nowhere to go for quiet play time before bed…and lights out for him right now also means lights out for us because he is sleeping in the living room) but as soon as his room is back together, I will be using this again.

  50. DianeMargaret says

    I’ve been wondering how to transition our 2 year old daughter from being rocked to sleep (and subsequently CARRIED to her crib) to going to sleep on her own!
    Any advice?
    She won’t stay in her room and play either, although she plays nicely on her own, just not in the nursery…unless she’s up to something!
    I tried the “let her decide” theory but she stayed up until 3am and I just can NOT do that!!!
    I don’t MIND rocking her but she’s getting heavy! I’ve had problems transferring her into the crib a few times and I know I need to start her on the journey to going to bed on her own…soon.

    • says

      When you let her decide what was she doing? My first thought would be to make sure she has quiet toys that she loves in her room. Maybe pop your head in every once in a while at first so she’s not coming out to look for you. If she likes to play alone it should be fairly easy to get her used to bedroom playtime.

      Teaching her to put herself to sleep will be a valuable skill that will be with her forever. When you are ready to start… remember that! Good luck. ;)

  51. Jamie says

    Ok, this sounds like a fabulous idea!! my problem here though is my Dman is 2.5 and still refuses to sleep without a bottle. He only gets one and Doc has (very huffily) admitted that wont hurt his teeth bottle mouth wise. I have tried taking them away and them just no longer existing and for almost two weeks straight he laid in his bed screaming then puking then screaming every night for HOURS!!! I would love to try this idea because I think it is perfect for him I just need to take care of this bottle issue first.

    • says

      Hmmm… I wonder if the two transitions could go together? If he is interested in being a “big boy” you might be able to make a big deal about how big boys go to bed. Anything where you are removing a comfort is really exhausting… for everyone. Good luck to you! Remember that it won’t last forever. ;)

  52. Molly Lewis says

    I would LOVE to try this, but my 3 year old twins, I very seriously doubt would actually listen and stay in their rooms to play. Any ideas would be appreciated! Sounds great! :)

    • says

      Molly, I felt the same way when I gave it a try. Now it is time that M and M look forward to. My advice would be to have quiet toys they haven’t seen in a while that you know will capture their attention. Do they love cars or dolls? What can they do for a while without your attention? Good luck and let me know how it goes. (Can’t hurt to try. ;))

  53. Lisa says

    We love this idea! We started using it a few weeks ago and it had really been working well. But for the last few nights after he comes out and tells us he’s ready for his tuck in (he’s 2 and 3/4), he then starts up with the requests for water, cries that he’s heard a noise, etc. Since we’ve already told him it’s bedtime, what do you recommend at that point?

    Thanks!

    • says

      Hi Lisa,
      Sorry for taking so long to get back to you. I know when it comes to bedtime I want answers NOW! Have you still been having the same problem? For the water, giving him a drink before lights out would be easiest. If it’s always he hears a sound you could ask him to be a detective and figure out what the noise was. Reporting to you in the morning instead of after bedtime. I hope this helps… I really hope you already had it worked out and are enjoying some lovely adult time!

  54. Amanda says

    I have been doing this with my 3 yo daughter (whom i have struggled with sleep for most of her life) for a few months now and it really works. After months of tracking her sleep I have finally worked out my daughter does need less sleep than her friends and its a very long and unpleasant 3 hours if left in a dark room by herself. People have been giving me a hard time about it but I have tried it both ways and this way is much more pleasant for all of us. I feel so much better after reading your website and seeing that other people are doing the same. Thanks!!

    • says

      You daughter is so lucky to have a Mom who is willing to follow her own instincts. You are absolutely right not all kids need the same amount of sleep and laying wide awake in a dark room for 3 hours sounds miserable. Sounds like the perfect time for her to enjoy some quiet time. :) Thanks for sharing your story.

  55. Amy says

    This is a great post! A few years ago, 7:00 bedtime was a must in our house for our two little girls. We all woke up pretty early, they needed their sleep, and we needed our adult time. This worked pretty well after we had our little boy, too, for a little while. When he was about 2, we were still putting all the kids to bed around 7:00 so he could get enough sleep, but I was constantly getting after the girls, age 5 and 7, for talking and sneaking out of bed to play. Well, I finally realized that they just weren’t tired yet and needed a little downtime before sleeping instead of laying like a lump in bed in the dark. But our little guy wouldn’t go to sleep before his sisters because he could hear them playing and it became a fight to get him to sleep each night. So we solved this problem with a variation of your suggestion: Every night at 7:00 we started our routine (pajamas, potty, teeth brushed, prayers) and our son went to his room and the girls went to their room. I set a kitchen timer for however many minutes were left before about 7:45-ish. The girls could play quietly with legos or barbies or read a book until the timer dinged, then they put the toys back and turned the light off. This worked so well! I called it “playtime” and my favorite part about it was that it gave me something to take away as I deemed fit. They knew that the faster they got ready for bed the more playtime they got! If they didn’t go to sleep within a reasonable amount of time after the timer dinged, all it took was a warning of losing playtime the next day for them to quickly settle down and fall asleep. If I had to go in again, they lost their playtime the next day. This especially worked well with my 5 year old! Everyone was getting enough sleep and we all felt so much happier! Now they are 4, almost 7, and almost 9 and still sleep great — just in time for our new baby to upset our sleeping schedule. :)

    • says

      Ha ha Amy! I love that comment. You made me giggle. When I had kids my Mom said “Just when you think you’ve found the answer something will change and you’ll have to start a square one.” :)

  56. Sarah k says

    Trying this tonight with our 3 year old!! In like 15 min! (jammie time) the only thing I can see as an issue is she is “afraid of her bed, afraid of her room…monsters.” We do the monster spray with air freshener and “the dog will eat then outside.” But sometimes she will wake us at say 2am talking about the monsters…

    • says

      How did it go? Little M had problems with bad dreams for a while. She was afraid to go to sleep because of them. We did a few activities (Dreams) and my husband explained that she can control her dream, turning scary dreams silly. I’m not sure which method worked or if it was a combo of both… but the bad dreams stopped!

  57. Monster's Mama says

    My daughter is still in her crib. She’s 2 1/2, but has never tried to climb out so I’m leaving her in there as long as she wants to stay. I’m terrified of her wandering around the house at night. Could this work with me still having to go put her in her bed? Most nights, bedtime isn’t too bad. We are on a set schedule that we rarely deviate from. But other nights isn’t a nightmare that ends with her on the floor pitching a fit because she doesn’t want to go to bed. This is an interesting concept that I’m willing to try.

    • says

      If it works… the transition to a big kid bed should be amazingly easy! Since we come in and tuck the kids in anyways I don’t see why putting them into bed would be any different. Good luck, and let me know how it goes!

  58. Dana says

    Ok…so I saw this on Pinterest today and read it very cynical…..no way could this work on my 3 and 5 year old who share a room. Gave it a test run tonight….HOLY CRAP…it worked! Both were snoozing by 8:15…when many nights we are pushing 10….thank you thank you thank you for this! I will be going to bed earlier tonight and sleep so much better knowing my kids went to bed with me smiling, tucking them in, and smooching them! GOD BLESS YOU!

    • says

      YEAH!!!! I am thrilled for you and your sleeping loves. It sounds way to go to be true and after all this time I am still amazed. A week or so ago my 7 year old asked to go to sleep just after 7 (about an hour earlier than normal). He knows how to listen to his body, something I need to do more of! Thank you for sharing your story. :)

  59. Courtney says

    I am so intrigued by all these suggestions. First, let me say that we have little to no problems putting our little one (19 months) to bed (knock on wood). However, some nights she just doesn’t seem to get tired until 9pm and by that time, I’ve been ready for her to go to bed for an hour! I think she would play in her room independently; however, I have 2 issues. #1…working mommy guilt…how can I let her play by herself and not give her my attention when I am home with her. #2…I can’t imagine my 19 month old understanding the concept that she decides when to go to bed AND even if she did, her bedroom is upstairs and my husband and I would most likely be downstairs, so how would she even tell us she was ready if she can’t come down the stairs? Perhaps, developmentally, she’s just too young for this concept? Thank you for any suggestions!

    • says

      Hi Courtney! Sorry it took so long for me to respond. Somehow I missed your question. :(

      Anyway. I understand the mommy guilt but if you are spending quality time with her when you are with her then there are great reasons to make bedroom rest time work. #1 You will be able to give her what she needs if you are well rested and allowing yourself some downtime. #2 independent play is a really important skill and giving her all the practice at it that you can is good for her! #3 sometimes parents can be stimulating. You might find that she is actually tired faster because she is playing alone.

      As far as being has her being upstairs while you are down. Eek that could be a little scary. If you have a monitor, perhaps you could teach her how to just ask for help. That’s assuming that the entire upstairs is baby proofed.

      I don’t think she’s too young for this… and there is only one way to find out! Let me know if you give it a try. I’m sure there are other parents in your special situation that would love to hear about your experience.

      Good luck!!!

  60. Lydia says

    Ok, so, we have been trying this for about two weeks now with my 2 year old daughter, and honestly, bedtime is still a complete disaster. In fact, I think it is getting worse. The first night it went well, the second night was ok (came out after lights out once or twice), but now it seems that the time she spends playing is just tacked on to the hours we try getting her back to bed. I’m so sick of the screaming, the crying, begging for dad, then begging for mom, one-more-potty, one-more-snuggle, one-more-whatever. Here is our routine, and I welcome suggestions from anyone for what we could be doing better:
    6:00-6:30 dinner
    7:00 – 7:30 clean up toys in living room, bath, diaper, jammies, brush teeth
    7:30 and on: read stories (2 or 3), play with a quiet toy that she doesn’t get frustrated by (worked that one out the hard way), then snuggles and lights out.
    Some nights she will play for an hour (awesome!) some nights just a minute or two before coming out of her room. Sometimes she will say she is done playing, but never, ever does she say she is ready for bed. We usually end up doing lights out when it’s obvious that she is over-tired or when she has come out for any reason other than to potty. Usually my husband does this on his own because I am in the other room nursing and putting the baby to sleep. But once the little one is down, we are both on hall-monitor duty for 90 minutes to 2 hours. Every. Single. Night. She never had sleep issues until about 4 months ago (before the baby came, well after she was in a toddler bed, no other big changes at that time that I can think of). I’m really starting to wonder if this is our payback for when she was sleeping 10 hours straight every night at 3 months old. And I’m really missing those days.
    Again, any suggestions are appreciated. I feel like we have tried everything.

    • says

      Oh Lydia that sounds exhausting! I’m sure it’s no fun for you, hubby or your daughter. Here are a few extra tips that might help…

      Could you move bath and cleaning up toys to another part of the day? Maybe right before dinner or morning? That way her actual “rest time” could start around 7 or 7:15 rather than what I’m guessing is closer to 8. She may be tired early than you think if she is ending up over tired.

      A positive behavior book might help too. You can really display for her what a perfect night would look like and how she would feel while it was happening.

      Depending on her verbal and comprehending skills you could try asking her what she did before, when she was sleeping so easily. Did she have special ways of putting herself to sleep? Playing the BIG GIRL card usually goes along way. “Now that you are a big girl, you get to have a rest time before bed. You are so big you get to help decide when your body is ready for sleep.” Talk a lot about the difference between a rested body and a tired one.

      I hope some of this helps. Let me know how it goes and if you need more help I would love to brainstorm with you!

      Jillian

      • Lydia says

        Thank you for replying so quickly Jillian! We have talked about moving her bath to an earlier time since I think it kind of winds her up, but the logistics of what to wear to dinner after the bath held us back. I told my husband today that washing one more outfit a day is nothing to me if it helps her get to sleep earlier!

        The positive behavior book is a great idea, I am going to start looking for some pictures to put in ours – I think they will really reinforce what we are trying to say. For so many other situations (walking in the parking lot, putting on socks when I ask, etc.) just asking her to “let me know when you are ready” works like a charm, so I was really hopeful about this bedtime technique. Looks like we just have to keep tweaking it until it fits.

        I’ll give these changes a couple nights and check back with you. Thanks again! -Lydia

        • says

          Baths have always gotten my kids more energetic too… I always heard they should be relaxing for kids but I know I prefer a nice shower to wake me up.

          Make sure to use the behavior books for one behavior at a time, they should be short and easy to digest. We used a lot of them over the years with Little M.

          I will ALWAYS respond quickly to the bedtime post… I know how important a good night sleep is for everyone. Good luck. :)

  61. says

    So tonight is night 1 of trying this. We did our bedtime routine and left him to read books/play at 7:15 pm. He came out at 7:40 pm saying he was ready for sleep. He didn’t want to lay straight in his bed (I have no problem with but usually is his way of protesting going to sleep….) We kissed him regardless and as we were walking out he came saying “STAY! I want you to STAY!” I reminded him that he did “big boy bed time” now and he decided it was time for him to sleep and left (him still calling out) he then got out of bed running up to me and grabbed onto my legs wanting me to stay with him) I had to resort to what we had to do in the past of shutting the door for a short time until he was in bed and showing me he was ready for the door to be opened. He stayed in his room quiet for a few minutes then came back out wanting me to cover him up. I did the shut the door thing again (with giving as little attention as possible to him). And now he is sitting on his bed crying/calling out to me. This is pretty much where we were before. Any suggestions or do you think this might be the adjustment period?
    Jessica @ Loving My Nest recently posted..Pumpkin Carving 2012

    • says

      What do you mean he didn’t want to lay straight in his bed? You might try it again tonight and remind them that when he comes out it is time for sleep. Now that he knows what that means it might make him wait until he is really ready. Good luck.. again!!!

      • says

        He lays sideways with his head and feet hanging off the side edges of the bed. It’s his “I’m in bed but not REALLY in bed” lol. We are trying it again tonight with a little alteration. We practiced with him putting himself to bed and put in a special touch lamp that has low light that he can turn off on his own. Our thought is that it’s the separation leading to going to sleep that’s the issue so if we separate from him to something he enjoys then turns off his own light and goes to sleep it might help with the “don’t leave” cries (since we won’t be in there anyway). We’ll see. I’m not ready to give up!
        Jessica @ Loving My Nest recently posted..The Man With the Yellow Hat Costume

        • says

          Love that idea!!! Can’t wait to hear how it works. I was thinking of you as we headed to bed tonight. It was a terrible hour before bed and no rest time (Little M said “I just wish I were in bed.”) It’s the time change… so keep that in mind if you change time where you are. Overtired kids have a very hard time cooperating. :)

          Also both of my kids move, move, move… for about 2 months after she didn’t have the rail Little M feel off the bed every night. Hanging himself off the bed might actually be part of his process. If you ignore it, he might stop completely or you might find it didn’t really matter to begin with.

          Good luck again ;)

          • says

            It actually went pretty good tonight! He came out and said he was ready to go to sleep, and I staying doing what I was doing and said, “Ok! Good night” and reminded him to turn off his light. He was hesitant and asked for us to “pat him” (what we used to do while getting him to go to sleep) I offered to tuck him in and give him a hug and kiss and he settled for that. He verbally protested once saying he didn’t like to go “night-night”, but I just said good night and left and that was the end of it! We’ll try again tomorrow and see if it goes as well. We had a rough few hours leading up to bedtime so I was thinking it was going to flop. He’s been in full 3 year old mode being very testy during the day, which is why I suspect night time has been getting progressively worse as well. About his laying in bed: we usually ignore his sideways laying and he always wiggles to a more comfortable position within a few minutes.

            Thanks again for your help and support! Knowing I have someone else to bounce ideas off of (or at least vent frustrations to that understand) helps so much!
            Jessica @ Loving My Nest recently posted..The Man With the Yellow Hat Costume

          • says

            Great Jessica! I hope it continues. :) You are welcome for the support. I know what a huge difference a calm and relaxing bed time made for us… I want everyone to enjoy that type of peace!

  62. Anna says

    I am coming from the other perspective, my mom did this for me when I was little, well really through middle school. Each child had a specific bedtime that was determined by age, we had to get into bed by that time and mom would hug us and kiss us goodnight (bath, books, and whatever were already done) and then leave the hall light on and doors cracked. I would stay up late naturally and as long as I was in my room being quiet everything was fine. When I was little, mom would put on a book on tape to let us listen to or lullabies. I remember often times getting up out of bed and turning the tape over to listen to the next story before I was ready for bed. As I got older and began reading I would stay up late reading. It was always my choice and I learned to sleep when I needed it and deal with staying up late. For me reading was worth it. If I was still up when mom went to bed then she would come in and tell me the world is going to sleep now and time to turn off the lights and I would go to sleep happy. (we had a set of books about the people who wake the sun in the morning, hang the moon in the sky, etc, so I had learned about the world going to sleep and the moon watching over me when I slept). This worked for us through high school with 3 kids. Though by the end bedtime was a non-issue because it was 10 or 11. But we learned how to be responsible with our sleep and listen to our bodies.

    Mom also instituted rest time in the afternoon on non-school days. Where we had to be quiet and in our rooms playing softly. The rule was that we were suppose to leave our rooms but we often did. I think mom knew but didnt care as long as we were quiet. This lasted till I was 9 or 10 and old enough to be out with friends all day or mom would tell us she needed quiet time and not to disturb her-we couldn’t leave the house without telling her but we no longer had to stay in our rooms.

    I don’t remember mom doing this when I was in preschool but she has told me she did with good success. And that she would often come when she was going to bed to tell me that world was going to sleep and now I had to too, at 11 at night. So don’t worry about children being up to late if it is their choice; their natural rhythms will work themselves out.

    From a child who has done this, try it-it should work through at least middle school if not high school because this plan is adaptable.

    • says

      Thank you so much for sharing the “child side” of this bedtime technique. I can see already in my 5 and 7 year old that they understand when they need to sleep. They know how to listen to their bodies, it’s really a life skill that has probably helped you tremendously. I also love that she was open with you that she needed quiet time. What a great lesson on respecting others and speaking up to get what you need. Thanks again!!!

  63. Erin says

    Ok I tried this for the 1st time tonight. I have a 2 year old (8/1/10) that cries at bedtime every night for at least an hour. I told him that he had “big boy” bedtime and he played for about 30 minutes then came out of his room. He did not ask to go to bed and he did not want to go to bed but I put him in bed because he came out. He screamed and cried for mommy and daddy like usual. Is this normal for the 1st night and if so/not what am I doing wrong or are there any suggestions? Thanks!

    • says

      Erin,
      You are absolutely not doing something wrong! Since he is barely two he may not be able to really understand the consequences yet. When he came out did he want something or was he just done in the room? You may need to adjust the terms but don’t give up.

      Maybe tonight you can try guiding him back to what he was doing and leaving him to play again. Since you can’t really explain to him that he is not to come out, gently showing him might work better. M and M were so much older than 2 when I started but I really wish I would have made it work when they were younger. It makes all the difference. Let me know how tonight goes. :) Good luck!

  64. kat childress says

    hi. i posted “my son’s 2-1/2 now and i’ve been doing this since he was around 16 months old or so. it works great! he chooses when he wants to go into his room (no later than 7pm – he usually goes in around 5:30 or 6pm) and basically decides when he wants to go to bed (usually falls asleep between 8pm-9pm). he sleeps better and it’s less stressful for him and us. i do this with his naptime too, but usually he just has a 1-1/2 hour “quiet time” because he stopped the naps but his doc recommended a quiet time around the same time as his nap would be. and he’s so much better when he’s rested even if it’s just playing in his room.”

    and you replied “I love this story! Thank you for sharing. So many people have been asking about younger kids. Do you mind if pull this up into the post?”

    for some reason, it’s not letting me comment to the comment you made on my comment (lol). so i made a new one. of course you can pull it up into the post :) he’s 3-1/2 now and it still works!

  65. Laura says

    I think this is genius! Any advice for getting an 11 month old to bed without a meltdown? How to KEEP him asleep? Thank you!

    • says

      We’ve always found with our two that get them into bed when they are just getting tired has proved to have the best results. Our hardest nights have always been with over tired kids.

      Having a routine in place helps too. (Bath time at night has not proven to be the best way to wind down M and M) PJs, reading, singing or a quiet game. Just having a set routine that gets your little one ready while preparing him for what’s ahead. It might be a good way to start instilling bedroom rest time as well! Then when he’s old enough you could work yourself out of the rest time activities.

      As for staying asleep, I have no good advice! Sorry… maybe naps for mom during the day?

  66. Heather says

    Some positive reinforcement is something I would suggest the next morning for the little ones who are getting up just to get up. We have a jar that we put marbles in for good behavior. There are three “reward” lines on the jar. The first line he gets to pick something from the treasure bucket (all stuff the The Dollar Tree), the second is a home activity with us (making s’mores, choosing dinner, board game night, etc), and the “big” reward is is his choice of the zoo, museum, ballgame, etc. You have to be consistent in rewarding the GOOD behavior. Just as importantly, you can NOT take the marbles away as punishment. They earned the marble! Start the day by giving marbles for manners, doing something the first time they were told, AND “just because I love you” marbles. I used to carry a container with me at all times (had people ask me in McDonald’s, grocery stores, etc., what they were) so that he was instantly rewarded for good behavior.

  67. Paula says

    My son is 20 months and sleeps in the bed with me and hubby. I’ve been trying to get him to sleep in his own bed for quite a while now. He does not like his bed at all… :( We have to lay with him till he fall asleep and he still feels for me during the night. We recently changed his bed to a toddler bed. He gets in and out of it during the day, but will not lay down for a nap or sleep time. Please help!

    • says

      Hi Paula! Sorry to be just getting to your comment. (I’ve been on a little blogging break, but I’m back now.) How is your bedtime going now? Has anything changed?

  68. Britanie says

    My son is 2.5. I’ve been doing this for a few months but he freaks out and screams even when I just leave him in his room. He also will just stay up until midnight. Ideas?

    • says

      Hi Britanie! When you leave him in the room does he understand that it is his quiet playtime? (2.5 can mean so many different levels of understanding). Do you have a routine that leads up to rest time? If you keep things the same (brush teeth, pjs, book, rest time) it might help him be prepared for what is to come. Another idea might be to try a positive behavior book to help him understand what a nice parting looks like.

      As for staying up until midnight… is he staying in his room the whole time and playing quietly? Does he nap? Is your family “rhythm” to be up late and sleep in?

  69. Nicole says

    we did the timed seated method by dr. sears. it worked great. I have an almost three year old. consistency is key with little ones. but jillians method seems to work with a lot of parents. kids definitely know when they are tired…they still need boundaries though.

  70. Kristen says

    Great post! I love the idea of letting them have control within boundaries set by us. Our 3 year old daughter loves books. After we read her 2 or 3 stories, we do turn out the light, but she is allowed to keep a book or two (or sometimes a photo album) in bed. She ‘reads’ them with her flashlight, and she gets to decide when to turn it off. Some nights she sets the book and flashlight on the night stand after 10 or 15 min, other nights we hear the flashlight hit the floor when she falls asleep. When the flashlight trick no longer works, we will definitely be trying your quite playtime idea!

  71. Steph says

    My son is almost 2 years old but only goes to sleep if either I or my husband rock him and then lay him in his bed or sleep with him in the recliner. 70% of the time he wakes up right when he hits the bed and runs out of his room crying or if the door is closed stands at it and screams while banging his hands on it. He’s also good at the “limp noodle” where he will just flop himself on the floor and throws a fit. Help!

    • Sarah says

      This sounds just like my almost 3 yr old but without the rocking part. She refuses to play by herself and will fight sleep til nearly 3 am!!!! getting her to enjoy time by herself is the hardest part for us.

      • says

        Kids are all so different. This technique would be very tricky for a little one who prefers to be “not alone”. I would be happy to help you come up with some ideas if your interested. Just let me know. :)

    • kathy says

      wow, I have the same problem.. as least we are all not alone. My son is 20mos and he too will pound on the door after I had put him down and/or wakes up as soon as I move to carry him to his room or as soon as he touches his bed and freaks out.

      • says

        You are most definitely not alone! As you can see by the comments difficulties at bedtime are pretty common. I would love to help you come up with ideas to try if your interested. :)

          • says

            Until he is comfortable with playing alone you can try leaving for small spurts.Go for just a couple minutes and then come back in. (“I have to go potty, you play with your puzzle and I’ll be right back.”) Stretch it out a little more as he gets used to it until you no longer need to go back. Good luck and let me know how it goes.

            Try keeping his activities and your behavior as calm as possible. Use quiet voices, yawn and stretch, quiet music. Maybe even set up some quiet toys in his bed so he is already there and doesn’t have to be moved there.

            Hope that helps!

    • says

      Hi Steph,
      Bedroom rest time would be pretty hard with kids who aren’t quite old enough to understand the idea. It might be worth a try though. Are there any quiet toys that he might be drawn to? If you can get him relaxed in the space without rocking him you may be able to get him to lay down on his own.
      Jillian

    • Lisa says

      My son (now 3) and daughter (now 5) were rocked to sleep up until they were almost 2. Bedtimes were (and still are somewhat) a night mare. I think 1st you should try to transition from rocking to sleep. That’s what we did. We would rock and read a few books and then turn the lights out and snuggle and rock for a few more and then it was time to get into bed. We would lay them down and leave. If he or she came out of the room we would just quietly take their hand and lead them back to their bed and lay them down again and simply say “stay in bed please. okay?” It took a few weeks for this routine to completely work but trust me if you keep at it eventually it will come!

      Hope this helps a little! Good luck!

  72. Margo says

    I did the pick your bed time since the day M was born. Bed time started out at 4:00am, but would sleep for 6 hours straight! After about a month or so it dramatically changed to midnight and now 10PM (M is now 2) If I am lucky and M hasn’t had her usual nap, M will go to sleep at 8:30 with no problem at all. I also nursed her to sleep until 3 weeks ago and then decided it was time to be done, told her that mommy nummies are now all gone and she hasn’t had any issue at all! I recommend the no bed time to every one!

  73. Misty Cosgray says

    I love this story!! I have a VERY STUBBORN 2 1/2 year old who refuses to stay in her bed unless I am in the room with her and when she comes out she always wants to go into my room to my bed whether I am in there or not. I am sad to say that this is partly, no mostly, my fault because, for different reasons, I have been one of those rock-her-to-sleep mommys and now that she is in her toddler bed she doesn’t want to stay unless I “put her to sleep.” I have to do it at nap times still (or at least I feel I do) because I take care of another little girl during the day and I don’t want the battle with my daughter to stay in her room/bed to wake the other child once she goes to sleep. Bedtimes have been rough over the last week or so since I have been trying anything and everything I know, even spankings, to make her stay in her bed. My friends have given me advise based on what has worked for their children, but I just can’t seem to find the patience to keep going and I end up putting her in her bed and standing beside it until she falls asleep, which after a couple hours of a battle usually only takes a couple of minutes. The point is that I am STILL in the room with her. I have always been taught stick with routine because routine and schedules are best for toddlers and babies. That worked for awhile, but now I don’t know what else to do to make it go smoothly. I am not even sure if something like this will work because she always comes out of her room to find me once I leave. It just gets so frustrating, ESPCIALLY when I am tired and know that I have to get up earlier some mornings than others. :(

    • says

      Oh Misty I feel your pain!!! Tired and out of patience makes it even harder to stick to a new routine. My suggestion to you would be to keep the rocking as part of your routine, just change it up a bit. “I will rock you while we sing 2 songs and read 1 book, then you play with your puzzles while I go switch the laundry.” Until she is comfortable with playing alone you can try leaving for small spurts.Go for just a couple minutes and then come back in. Stretch it out a little more as she gets used to it until you no longer need to go back. Good luck and let me know how it goes.

  74. heather says

    My daughter is 20mo and to go to sleep she lays down in between hubby and me. How do I even get her to lay down in her own bed, and get her to put her self to sleep? Is she too young for your method?

    • says

      There are quite a few people in the comments here who have had success with similar methods for young kids. We didn’t start until the kids were a bit older (but oh how I wish we would have)! It’s certainly worth a try.

      I would suggest moving slowly and having a plan from the start. She will have to get used to being alone in her room and sleeping by herself. I can’t remember where I saw it but I’ve heard of people who put their own pjs in with their kids so they can still smell you and feel the fabric they are used to sleeping next to.

      I hope that helps.

  75. says

    This is awesome. Especially since I just switched the kids room to being JUST a bed and JUST books with a tiny book shelf. I think Ill give it a shot.

  76. Jill says

    Hi! We heard this technique taught at our Love and Logic classes but are skeptical of how it will work with our 2.5 year old twins who share a room. My big concern is once they have decided to go to bed whether by their choice or by being too noisy or disruptive that my boy twin will still just jump out of bed and run around and think it is fun and games. He is so good about listening during the day but I struggle with bedtime/naptime with him and he often encourages his sister to join him. Any words of wisdom on what to do if this is an issue after they make the choice, or if one chooses at a different time from the other one? Thanks so much!

    • says

      Hi Jill!
      I had the same concern when I first heard about it. Mine little ones are not twins but they do share a room. Mine were a little older but honestly I wish I would have tried it when they were younger.

      I guess my biggest tip would be to play up how nice it will be to play quietly by themselves and how big they are that they get choose their bedtime.
      Good luck!

  77. duncan faber says

    My kids love bedtime stories. Actually, we have 5 of them, so that’s a lot of reading. LOL! So we started a new ritual. Bedtime audiobooks. There’s lots of sites to download them, but we use one site in particular because the stories are all original and free. Here’s the link, if anyone is interested. http://www.twirlygirlshop.com/moral-stories-for-kids

  78. Sarah says

    I sort-of already do this for my almost 5yr old. According to him “When the baby stick is on the 7 and the mommy stick is on the 12 it’s nite-nite time” Or when Mommy’s phone plays Twinkle Twinkle Little Star(I have an alarm set every night for 7pm). He goes in his room with a cup of water and he has to sit in his bed. He can watch a DVD or Sprout until Mommy’s Phone plays Twinkle Twinkle Little Star again.(830pm) That means the TV needs to go to sleep and he needs to lay down and snuggle under his blankets. He doesn’t fight it because he’s always told that if he does then he doesn’t get TV at all the next day at nite-nite time. He’s usually asleep by 9pm if he even stays up that late. Other times he asks to turn off his TV because he’s ready to sleep. It’s great! :)

  79. Brenda Nunley says

    I want to try this, but my problem arises when my 2.5 year old comes out and even though she knows the rule that once she comes out it’s bedtime, she still says no. Then what? We have a 1 year old and I have a feeling this would come with lots of tears, kicking and screaming which would wake the already sleeping baby. Suggestions?

  80. Lisa says

    Just tried this tonight. It was easier than our normal hectic, crazy bedtimes than entail yelling, and screaming fits from both the kids and us parents. It was not a pretty sight.
    I’m not going to say it was a complete success because it most certainly wasn’t. We started around 8 since we typically want them to be asleep by 9. My 3 year old son came out of his room twice. The second time we told him he must be ready for bed. He got into bed easily with no fuss, but continuously came out of his room, which eventually resulted in my hubby sitting in the room until he fell asleep.
    My 5 year old daughter however was content to play all night long. Finally at 10 we had to tell her it was bedtime.
    It was less stressful but still not a complete success. :(

    • says

      I’m glad it was less stressful! Hopefully after a couple more tries it will be a complete success!

      I bet your 10 year old will be more tired tonight and less likely to stay up too late.

  81. Hilary says

    Thanks for the idea! We have been really struggling with bedtime with my 2.5 and 4.5 yr olds, both girls, who share a room. My husband has to stay in there with them in the 2.5 yr olds bed until they fall asleep or they scream bloody freaking murder. We tried this tonight and they were having none of it…. We tried leaving the door open, closing it, they just freaked out when he left. We tried playing it up real big (“Now you get to pick your own bedtime! Yay!”) but they didnt buy it. *sigh* Any advice? We put them in their room at 830pm and its now almost 10pm and they are still awake with him in there with them. I feel like I dont ever get time with my husband because he’s always trying to put them to sleep. :/

    • says

      Hilary, :( It’s so hard when all you want is to sit and relax with your husband. I remember dreading bedtime so much. I hope I can help it go a little more smoothly tonight. First off I would say try starting your bed time routine earlier and getting the rest time started a hour earlier than normal.

      If they go in there feeling “not tired” the entire process might take a different spin. Next, this is a great time to introduce a new toy or bring out one they haven’t seen in a while. Puzzles, books, dolls, blocks or cars… are all great quiet time activities. Try setting up the room so that it’s inviting and turn on soft music. If they are not use to being alone, you might need to start rest time with them… leaving for longer periods of time and saying “I’ll be right back.”

      Hope that helps. Let me know how it goes!

  82. C anderson says

    Started reading at bedtime and going to bed with books with my oldest who is now 37. All 6 of my kids went to bed with books. They could pick out three books (had to put a limit when the oldest at a year wanted to take all of her books to bed) and they would choose one for me to read. Later the older ones would read to their younger siblings. Bedtime was never an issue. Had the same routine at nap time.

  83. Victoria Hyatt Cahn says

    We have 5 year old boy/girl twins who share a bedroom. Bedtime is a fun mess, especially for our son who doesn’t want us to leave the room. This is a very interesting idea and I will talk with my husband about trying it. How do manage wake up time when everyone must get out of the house on time. It is really rough in our house, especially for our son.
    Thanks for such an out of the box idea!

    • says

      We don’t have a wake up issue. :) In fact we had to put a clock in their room so they would come out before 6. I would love to ask you question on my Facebook Page. Would that be okay?

      Let me know if you try it!

  84. Victoria Hyatt Cahn says

    I am happy to answer a question for you. I liked your FB page. I just talked your idea over with my husband and he is open to trying it. We are going to pick a good weekend (which this weekend is not) to try it first and do some structuring to try to tailor it to our kids. We’re your kids in the same room or different rooms? Thanks.

  85. T says

    We have tried for months to do this. We find that the kids will stay up until we go to bed. Yes, they will stay up until 10, 11, or even midnight. They don’t come out, they just keep on going, like Energizer bunnies.

    • says

      Bummer! Are they exhausted the next day or do they sleep in? You could try having a reason for them to get up… even if their so tired. That might help move their sleep cycle.

  86. Emma says

    My boys are 8, 6 and 5 and share a bedroom. The little ones don’t mind going to bed and usually fall asleep quickly, but the oldest is hell on legs. We battled for years with him, as having spent valuable time settling them all down with books and soft music, we’d go in ten minutes later to find them all stark naked dancing ,”gangnam style” on their beds. Or sword fighting. Or building bridges with furniture. Even if the others slept relatively early, 8 year old would still beup after 10 most nights. So one night, like you, I just didn’t put him to bed. I told him to read for a bit, wanting the other boys, who were exhausted, to nod off before he went in and disturbed them. He sat on the end of the sofa with a book and I ignored him. At 9:15, he asked to go to bed and there wasn’t another peep from their room all night. He woke up unusually early the next day and was in a completely different mood all day. I’ve moved him into my bed to read now, as I got tired of the constant demands for word definitions (need to buy him a dictionary) and he comes out to tell us he’s going to bed. However, I found it from his best friend that he’s falling asleep in school. Hopefully this has been rare, but I’m certain he’s getting more sleep now. Need to come up with a plan for he younger ones, and I love the idea of only coming out to say goodnight. That’s a sneaky one.

    • says

      What a great way to work with what you’ve got! Having him read in your bed is a great idea. I imagine falling asleep at school will have it’s own consequences (being embarrassed, getting in trouble, etc)Thanks for sharing your story!

  87. Lydia says

    THANK YOU!!! My husband insisted I write and thank you! We have been doing this with our children for about a month. I was a little skeptical at first but it has proven effective. I have 2 boys (5 & 3) and one girl (2). I am expecting my fourth in 2 weeks and have very little patience at the end of the day. We tried this after a particularly taxing day and are amazed how well it is working. We would sit in our boys’ room until they were asleep, then they would come into our room in the middle of the night because they were scared. The first night was a dream! They went into their room at 7 and didn’t come out until they were ready to go to bed. We have family close by so some nights we are out later than bedtime. However, when we are at home, they understand the process and jump right back into routine. My boys are sleeping better than ever and I am getting some much needed talk time with my husband after the kids go to bed and am much more patient with them. We don’t yell at them as they are going to bed anymore. Our daughter has been a good sleeper from the beginning but she is also still in her crib in her own room. We will do this with her when she moves into a big-girl bed so hopefully that transition will be a little easier.

    • says

      YEAH!!!! Contrats on the new baby and thank you so much for letting me know it’s working so well for you. (Tell your husband he was right… it totally made my day.)

      • Jen says

        Thanks for your thoughtful advice. I have two boys who share a room, ages six and four. Anyone perhaps have nighttime pottytraining suggestions for our four-year-old son? He’s waking up multiple times each night — we are all exhausted. He’s stubborn and old enough that he won’t wear a pull-up but also doesn’t seem to be able to make it all the way through the night yet. Very sound sleeper and won’t get up to go to the bathroom. We limit drinks before bed and take him to the bathroom before going to sleep around 10-11 PM but he often is wet around 2-4 AM. Sorry this is slightly off topic but we’re desperate for help. Many thanks.

  88. angie merkle says

    Hmmm….Where o where do I begin???? I guess from the beginning…:-) My 2 oldest daughters are 14 and 13 and have both slept like a dream from, literally Day One. Never had any issues whatsoever.
    My youngest is currently 3 years and 5 months old..so basically 3-1/2. She has/is made/making up for her older sisters’ perfect sleep record. When she was born, at the time we lived in a home that only had 3 bedrooms so her crib was, literally 2 feet from my side of the bed. She didn’t have her own room to call her own. (Mistake #1) Which meant that when my husband went back to work after his 6-week paternity leave, baby girl had to be kept as quiet as humanly possible so daddy could sleep. He had to get up at 4 am..then he had a 2 hr. drive to work. Which meant that the minute baby girl (Brookie) fussed in her crib, I had to leap out of bed to get her so as not to wake up daddy. (I nursed her, by the way til she was nearly 2.) I found that it was SOOOO much easier (and quieter) to just nurse Brookie in our bed and once she let go and fell asleep, 9 times out of 10, even as young as 3 months old, she would stay sleeping ALL NIGHT LONG!!! I continued to do this until she was 17 months old (Mistake #2) which was when we moved closer to daddy’s work and into a much larger home where Brookie now has her own room and her own big girl bed. So super long story short, yes she was put between the two of us at bedtime when she was 3 months old and to this day..is STILL sleeping in between us. Only now, most nights she won’t fall asleep til she’s been rocked to sleep while drinking milk from a sippy. :’(
    In the almost 2 years (this August) we’ve lived in our bigger home, she has slept in her own bed, all night, maybe twice. :( She has NEVER been a good sleeper..not even while she was inside me…and she has ALWAYS been a night owl. Her “normal” bedtime is anywhere from 10 pm (that’s super early for her and always ensures she’ll wake up about 2-3 am wide awake and ready to play!) to about 2 am. On “no nap” days (which are becoming more and more), she is ready for bed usually by 9:30 and lets us know by whining for her milk cup, then i rock her til she falls asleep. Then I put her in her bed, turn the nightlight on and crawl into my own bed. She might last a good half-hour before she wakes up, realizes she is not in bed with us, starts bawling and screaming, and comes running to our room, wanting to crawl into bed with us. More often than not, I’m just so exhausted that I let her. (Mistake #3) And she will sleep the rest of the night peacefully knowing she is in our bed..not waking up once…for anything. Since I have been a SAHM for over 14 years, most days we lie in bed til 9-9:30 the next morning just talking, giggling, tickling and plain being silly before she wants to even think about getting up and getting on with her day.
    We both have done just about everything imaginable to try to get her out of our bed and into hers. We have bribed, threatened, rewarded her for the good nights, kept a sleeping chart, etc… I am the ONLY one she’ll let sleep with her if she agrees to lie in her bed without being rocked. Not dad and not either sister. Just me. 9 out of 10 times this happens, I fall asleep and do not wake up til morning…which defeats the whole purpose of getting her to sleep and keeping her in her own bed all night. Which doesn’t make the hubby too happy…our alone time is so rare, it’s basically non-existant. :( We have talked about divorce over this subject before..several times in fact. :(
    Her pediatrician recommended a parenting book about the subject, which I gladly poured myself into. The author put her contact info inside and after I was finished reading, I called the phone number and got an assistant who told me that YES, the author DOES make house calls and “studies” the family’s daily andnightly interactions and then helps the family with its issues….but that a 30 min phone conversation with her would set me back about $300!! What??!! So…..here we are. It’s 11:52pm now and I put Brookie to bed after rocking at about 11 tonight. I’m super impressed she is still sleeping. Guess I’d better go to bed…she’ll be awake any minute.

    • says

      Oh Angie! It sounds like you could use a good night sleep! She is old enough to understand that mom and dad need time to themselves in the evening. Like I said in the post, we call ours “rest time”. What is the nightly routine for your older girls? Could everyone go into their own rooms to play/ read/ study at a certain time, while you and hubby relax on the couch? How does she play on her own? what quiet activities does she like the most? My biggest tip is that tired kids are really hard to work with, so if you can find the sweet spot between too tired and not ready to settle down you’ll hit a gold mine!

      Since you’re older two are so much older it might be good to have them and your husband read this post and your husband as well. That way all four of you can come up with a plan and be on the same page — trust me if this works it will change your life! I’m technically on a bloggy break right now but I’ll check in to see if you have more specific questions! Good luck.

  89. Jessica says

    Hello!! My son is 4 and he has basically shared a bed with me since he was little. From the start I tried everything getting him to sleep in his own bed, but somehow sleeping in my bed helped us both sleep better so he won the battle. For some reason I feel so guilty and alone putting my son to sleep in his room. I have no idea why or where this has come from, But I just cant make him sleep in his own room?? He does have his own bed in my room, which he hasn’t really slept in. But I am in desperate need to make a regular bed time routine for him, this summer I have got very slack. He basically goes to bed when I do with the tv, and its very late. Being a single mom, working full time, and going to school full time, its hard to find the time to do anything right and I always take the easy way out!! Do you think this will work for him, as far as getting him to sleep in his room by himself?? Thank you so much!!!

  90. says

    Oh, thank you, thank you for this idea! My son has been having screaming tantrums for a week straight over going to bed. Not sure why he has started hating bedtime, but he told my mom yesterday, “Because I want to play!” I found your link yesterday, so last night, I decided to try it. Couldn’t hurt, right? Would be much better than the yelling arguments we get into at 9:00 every night. So…around 7:15, I told my son, I’m going to set the alarm for 7:45 and let’s see if you can take a bath quickly enough to beat the clock (he is a dawdler in the bath). So, every time he would play instead of listening to me and cooperating with me while I tried to wash him, I’d remind him that we needed to beat the clock. At 7:30, I told him what time it was and that if he got out right then, we’d have more time for stories. I gave him the choice of staying in the bath and playing longer (thus leading to a shorter story time) or getting out then and having 30 minutes of reading time. He chose reading time (good choice!). So, he got out and I still let the alarm go off so he could see how much extra time he got. Great idea!

    We read until about 8:15 (brushing teeth and pottying and kissing daddy all happened right after bath time so it was more like 7:45 when we started reading). After that time, I told him he could play quietly in his room while I did chores (if he knew I was spending time with Daddy, he would try to lure me in to spend time with only him…he is a smart one). I stayed with him for just a few minutes playing cars then said I would be back a littler later to check on him. He called for me a few times and I did go check but for the most part, he played quietly by himself (he’s an only child, so this is major). He never came out of his room and finally, at 9:15, I told him that I would be turning the lights out at 9:30 and that he didn’t have to go to sleep, but he needed to rest. I set the alarm for 9:30 and when it went off, I went in his room and turned out the light, leaving the hall light on b/c he’s been trying to convince me he’s afraid of the dark (I’m not buying it). He was all smiles and we said prayers and gave cuddles and I said if he was very quiet and didn’t call out for me, I would check on him. He did just that and when I checked on him, he was still awake but almost out. I kissed him once more and repeated that he needed to continue being quiet. Next time I checked on him at 10:00, he was zonked. I know that’s late, but lately, he’s been staying up until 10:30 or 11:00 and we’ve yelled the entire time. My hubby said, “I don’t how how it worked, but I will take it. That’s so much better than yelling all night and we got to sit down and watch TV together!”

    So, all this long story to say “THANK YOU!” Such a simple concept that worked for us. Hopefully he’ll start going to sleep sooner the more he gets used to it.
    Leann recently posted..Nobody’s gonna break my stride

  91. Leah says

    I love this idea, but how would you do this witha. School aged child who feels they re invincible and can stay awake all night, is there a cut off time? Or how would you do this appropriately so they get the sleep they need to be rested for school the next day. Im at wits end with my 7 year old and the bedtime battles of wantin to sleep in her playroom ( downstairs) having to read a book, watch a movie, ho potty five times and play board games, brush her dollies hair and say bedtime prayer…… Any help or advise would be awesome

  92. Julie says

    We are on night 3 of this new and fabulous technique. My husband was hesitant about having our triplet 3 year old girls “play” where they are suppose to sleep but it seems to be working. I feel like we are just going with the reality of them wanting to be able to get in and out of bed so allowing them a quiet time to be in there and get in and out takes away the thrill of it and makes it ok when the lights go out.
    So far they are not telling us that they are ready to go to sleep so we are just stating that “special time” is over now and then we tuck them in and turn out the light. They are so excited about their new toddler beds and the new special time that they are cooperative with brushing teeth and getting jammies on.
    One of us is staying upstairs near their room to monitor things so we aren’t getting our quality time just yet but it sure beats having one of us sitting outside their door and getting frustrated with putting them back in bed over and over.
    I was so happy to have found this technique before we transitioned them into toddler beds, we had been holding off on getting rid of the cribs because we felt we’d never have any peace again. Thanks and I’ll be sure to share this with my friends!

  93. Dee says

    Hello!
    SO happy to have found this!

    My daughter is 2.6 and sleeps in her own room.
    We have dinner at 6pm, go straight to her room (she is carried from highchair), we have a bath for 20-30mins (she plays pretty hard), pjs on, milk while listening to stories, lights off, say and prayer, listen to 3 songs, goodnight. She is always wide awake when I leave – goes to sleep when she wants (she has stuffed toys in her crib, she talks to them).

    Now – we are about to move house. I am going to put her in a big girl bed, and then start potty training etc … i think she is ready for these things so why should i hold her back :)

    My question – what sort of quiet toys do you put in the room? only small little toys – or train sets (non-automatic), or pretend play larger toys … her play room is RIGHT next to her bedroom so I am scared she will keep going there to get stuff … her play room has all sorts of stimulating things!!!!

    Would love your advice.

  94. Jen says

    Thank you for this post – I am going to try it with my 3 and 5-year old boys to help stop the bedtime battle. My 3-year old will be the challenge – he came out of his room, we reminded him that it meant he was ready for bed, then tucked him in. However, I think he was just testing us as he had no real intentions of going to sleep. So, now he is hysterically crying. What to do at this point in the routine?

      • Jen says

        It’s great for my 5-year old. My 3-year old opts out – he asks that we read him books instead of having quiet time. He is still yelling for us to come back in for hugs, blankets, etc. It doesn’t seem to be a game as much and having one to deal with at bedtime is much easier than two…baby steps!

  95. Lindsay Ritchie says

    I just found this post on Pinterest and I’m really hoping for some advice. My little boy, just turned two is still sleeping with me. I have no idea how to get him to sleep on his own. Plus he is still feeding to sleep and really have no idea how to stop. I’m getting desperate! Any ideas?

    • says

      Is bedtime the only time he’s feeding? You might try transition him from that routine first. Making going to bed on his own the end goal, using baby steps might make it easier. Read through some of the comments. There are other families who have been in similar situations. Good luck! I hope it goes easily for you.

  96. Popsy says

    Hi

    Have just come across this post and absolutely love he idea, my ds is 2 years 4 months and used to go to sleep on his own and sleep through absolutely fine, not sure when it all changed but started coming in out bed in the night and stayed longer and longer!

    We are planning baby no 2 and I think it’s best to get this sorted now so have been trying to get him back in his own bed as think it’s important for them to learn to get back to sleep by themselves.

    I will try the quiet play etc as currently we have to sit by the door for anything from 30 to 60 mins while he goes to sleep, but I just wondered won’t that bit still be the same, what do you do once they have come out of the room, do you sit with them still or put them to bed and wait outside/go downstairs? Is it ok to sit outside the door while they go to sleep or is it best to try and get them to go off without being right there?

    And then when they wake in night as this part is the biggest issue for us at the moment, he will come into our room and my husband (understandably tired from working long hours) just let’s him get in our bed in the night for an easy life, so I think it’s down to me to be strong and implement this. Just wondered what you do when they wake in the night, I try to just call out to reassure him but he will get out of bed if I don’t go in?

    Any ideas or help much appreciated x

  97. Lily says

    Hi Jillian, I want to try this with my 6 year old (who is a nightmare at bedtime, for example tonight she came out of bed at least 10 times, had a huge screaming tantrum, hammered with a hammer on her baby sisters door when my dh wouldn’t sleep with her and only eventually went to sleep at 10.30pm by which time I was in tears, and she was downstairs on the couch as she had woken her 10 year old sister and baby sister. Dh is on the other couch as that was the only way to get her to stay put.) My question is, what do you do if they keep getting up after that first time? I am finding it really hard as I put my older two in bed and then nurse the baby down, and as my 6 year old knows I am busy she just keeps getting back up, usually until 10-11pm, often waking the baby so I am in despair about getting the house cleaned up and ever having adult time. Rewards or punishments don’t seem to make any difference to her, and I don’t spank. Please help! I am in despair :(

    • says

      Oh Lily… I am sending big, big hugs your way. this is definitely a hard place to be and an easy bedtime would make a world of difference. Mine were not that far off from that when we started this. Did you try this technique at all or are you starting from scratch?

      I would probably start by having a firm plan with your hubby. Think about things like
      - who does she respond best too? If it’s you, maybe you can pump so he can feed the baby for a couple of nights? Or at least so you can trade off.
      - what are 3 of her favorite quiet activities? Does she like to color (and is she safe to color in her room without writing on the walls), do puzzles, build with Lego, play with dolls? Make sure she has things that will entertain her until she’s ready for sleep.
      - What time do you think she is not quite tired? We have to get our kids up there and started on rest time pretty early, usually 6:45 or 7. If we wait until they are actually tired it’s a much harder night.

      Once you have a good plan be strong, erase everything you know about bedtime in the past (this can be the hardest part), remember this is a new day and she gets to start fresh. If you can do this you’ll be able to stay calm longer. I love to get the kids involved and make them a part of the decision (well let them feel like they are a part of the decision).

      Talk over dinner about your new bedtime routine. Let her know she gets to be a big girl and decide when she goes to bed. She decides by coming out and saying “I’m ready for bed” OR by being loud OR by coming out. Make sure she goes potty right before rest and gets a drink.

      When she comes out, you put her in bed. That’s it. Remind her that it was her choice and that the great thing is tomorrow she gets to make the choice again. Make it as positive as possible and try to get through the first night without engaging her too much and without letting her be out of her room. that of course means everyone might get woke up. I hope it doesn’t come to that but if she learns the rules are the rules the next night she’ll be a lot less likely to come out. I’ll check back today, if you have any questions. GOOD LUCK!!! Wouldn’t this be a great way to start the new year?!?!

      • Lily says

        Thanks so much for your quick reply Jillian! We are going to start fresh tonight. So if she does come out what do you do, just lead her back in without engaging? Hold the door shut if it comes to that? I have ended up doing that a couple of times and pretty much hated myself. My dh doesn’t really believe it will work but is prepared to try, he tends just to make threats (confiscating stuff for long periods, which in my opinion doesn’t work or send a good message) or shouting so I think it will work better if I deal with it.

        • says

          No problem on the quick reply… bedtime is important! You can tell you husband I was right there with him. Thought it was crazy but was so desperate we tried it.

          I don’t think you want to hold the door. It should be really positive. “Looks like you decided you’re ready for sleep, since you came out. I would love to tuck you in.” Then maybe talk about what she might choose to play with the next night and how maybe tomorrow night she’ll choose to stay up later.

          Again good luck, I can’t wait to hear how tonight goes!

          • Lily says

            Hi Jillian, thought I’d give you an update. We’ve been following your plan for 3 nights now, and I think it is really working! The first night my 6 year old came out of her room after about 20 mins (she went into her sister’s room) and was very disappointed -cue tantrum. We just kept leading her back to her room, turning the light back out etc. the tantrum went on for about an hour (sigh) but because it was only 7.20 when it started it was still much earlier than previously. The second night we were running a little late do she didn’t end up going into her room for playtime until 7.40, she played until 10.10pm! She was quiet and happy though, and when she finally asked for lights out she went straight to sleep, so that was fine (it is school holidays so she can sleep in if necessary). Tonight she played until 9pm, and when she asked to be tucked in she said she was scared, so I spent a little while cuddling with her and played her ‘my favorite things’ from the sound of music, this was fine though as the baby was peacefully asleep and the dishes were done (yay!). She then went right off to sleep! So I would definitely say this technique has been successful. My nearly 10 year old is enjoying picking her bedtime too, she goes off to sleep around 9. She was previously fine though, so either way works for her.
            I think one thing may be that my 6 year old just doesn’t need that much sleep, and that was why she was fighting her 8pm bedtime so much. Anyway, I hope it continues and I can’t thank you enough.
            Warm regards,
            Lily

          • says

            Oh Lily, I am so happy to hear that! I hope it continues to work for you and your daughter. I’m sure everyone will be enjoy the peaceful end of day. Maybe, like us, you’ll realize a year later that you can’t even imagine the way it was. :)

  98. Jennifer says

    Hi, My daughter is 4 years old and has always been really attached to me. I had the flu for a week and she had to stay at my in-laws, her dads etc and now she’s back home and the bedtime battle has started. She screams for me, says she needs me, wants me to stay. I feel like a horrible mom because I can’t seem to sooth her unless I stay by her side for a very long period of time. I can’t just tuck her in. It’s at least an hour fight with her and she still gets out of her bed in the middle of the night. My husband says try the super nanny method of just taking her straight back to her bed no matter how many times it takes. I on the other hand let the nurturing mom come out and me and just want to hold her until it all gets better. Advice is well appreciated!!!!!

    • says

      Darn it! I missed this comment some how! Did you try this technique? Where are you at now that it’s been a couple of weeks? I would love to offer advice where I can.

  99. Dorothy says

    My sanity is gone, thanks to my 3 year old & 21 month old. They share a room, and feed off each others’ energy. I’m willing to try anything. I absolutely loathe bedtime. It can frequently take two hours – and often more – to get them settled, staying in their beds, and to sleep. My husband finally took them for a ride tonight because he could tell I was going to lose it, after almost 90 minutes. I’m going to try this starting tomorrow.

      • Dorothy says

        I’ve put off posting an update, because I’ve been waiting – anticipating – the night when it all falls apart, and this method doesn’t work. That has not happened. It’s been a week since we started, and my 3 year old and 21 month old who were often up until 11:30 and midnight, have been asleep by 9:30 at the latest, all but the first night. My daughter still wants me to sit by her bed until she falls asleep, but I’m not sitting there for countless hours anymore, fussing at her to get back in bed, and she’s not begging for “another drink” half a dozen times, and she’s actually slept through the night a couple of times. (any suggestions for that?)

        They are actually playing together during quiet time (they share a room), and they are getting along. I never thought I’d see the day they actually got along. We have quiet time in the afternoon, when she takes a nap, but he plays quietly, and again starting at 7:30 every night. My 3 year old has actually asked for quiet time twice.

        I’m not enjoying the trade off of them waking up early, but I’m getting used to it. I was spoiled by them sleeping until 9:30 and 10AM. We are getting into a routine, for our entire day, which we desperately needed. I am not a schedule person, but little ones need schedules and routines. This method has benefited each of us, and it’s showing. My husband says I’m much nicer since I’m getting more sleep. :)

        Jillian, thank you so much for sharing your ideas. I’ve read through many of them, and you are just wonderful.

        • says

          YAY!!!!! That is the most wonderful comment to find first thing in the morning. I’m so glad you’ve found success and made it work for your family. As for the sleeping through the night… this routine just might fix it. Give it some time. Thank you so much for sharing your update. Do you mind if I use it to promote the post on Facebook?

  100. Tracey says

    I have 3 and 4 year old girls, they will be turning 4 and 5 in March and April, they are 13 months apart. My husband and I are at breaking point and are both worn out, mentally and physically. My husband has taken six months of work so we can recharge and get these girls of ours sleeping. Our girls will fight sleep every night. On average, the girls come out of the bedroom no less than 20 times. We have the same routine every night. Dinner at 5:30 – 6pm. Bath at 7pm with their teeth being brushed, and night attire on. We read to them every night, be it in the living room or their bedroom. We have tried separate rooms but they end up in with each other again. We really want them to sleep in the same room as we are in a small house. We have tried Psychologists, self help books, you name it we have tried it. We are so exhausted. I am at breaking point now and to be quiet honest, I don’t think I have the energy to try something new. But I owe it to all of our family to try again. Please, please can you help?

    Kind Regards
    Tracey

    • says

      Oh Tracey that sounds like a really hard place to be… and I have been there. I really do think this bedtime strategy is great for everyone involved because it puts the kids in control and they no longer have to “fight sleep”. From what you have written I have a few suggestions.
      – First reread this post with your hubby and make a firm plan about how to go about changing the routine.
      – I have always heard how soothing bath time is for kids, but that has NEVER been my experience. For some reason it charges them up and I just don’t like having it so close to bed time. I would suggest moving it (at least for now). Can one of you do baths while the other cooks dinner, so that they are ready for “rest time” as soon as dinner is over? (or baths in the morning maybe?)
      – I would try to get them in their room earlier. (mine are 18 months apart and I love that they share a room… since we started this it hasn’t been a problem). Shoot for 6:30 start of rest time. If they are already tired they will already be in fighting mode. The key is to get them excited about this special quiet playtime.
      – Make sure there are quiet activities for them to do… books, dolls, puzzles, building blocks, etc.
      – Muster every last bit of strength you have and be positive about the entire thing. Explain rest time with a glisten in your eye “You girls are so big we are going to let you decide when you go to bed! And you get to play in your room first… what would you like to do during rest time? There are few ways we’ll know your ready for bed. If you come out, we’ll know it’s time to tuck you in. If you are playing rowdy or wild, we will know it’s time to kiss you good night. If you come and tell me you would like to sleep we will know it’s time for bed.” Act like this is the biggest privilege.

      I hope that gives you a good start! I’ll check in here today, so if you or your husband have any more questions just go ahead and ask. Good luck. I’ll have my fingers crossed for you.

  101. Ceri says

    Hi,

    I would love to know how this would work with a two year old? I’m not sure he would grasp the ‘when you come out it’s bedtime’ idea very easily, so would you sit in the room quietly with him? Or let him play quietly in the lounge while you talked as adults? Or something else?! Lol

    • says

      Hi Ceri,
      I didn’t try this with mine when they were two (unfortunately!), you may have to experiment a bit to see what will work.

      I think I would try making sure he has toys that you know will entertain him while you slip away. Maybe you don’t make an announcement that it’s bedtime but instead show him by taking action. If he comes out and you feel like it’s just to come out put him to bed. If he comes out to show you something maybe guide him back to playing.

      I wish I would have experimented at 2… it would have saved me a LOT of terrible bedtimes. Will you come let us know how it works out for you?

  102. Sally says

    Please help. I’m a mum of 4 (ages 6, 4, 2 & 10 months). When she turned 2 my now 4 yr old stopped sleeping & two years on she is stopping everyone else from sleeping with I’m not tucked in properly or I need a drink/ toilet antics that require either mum or dad’s presence.

    We have tried almost every technique I can find to no avail. Tonight after your technique being suggested by a friend we changed it up. I let them play in the toy rm (after reading again I realise I need to police the coming out part better). My 2 yr old came out at 930 but the 6 & 4 yr olds kept playing til hubby & I went to go to bed & then to our horror miss 4 just commenced the antics she would normally pull at 730 at 1030 waking both toddler & baby.

    I’m willing to try again, I’m exhausted & I’m sick of hating my 4 yr old & then feeling guilty for hating her. They don’t have toys in their rm do i take a few & restrict to their bedroom? I need help with some guidelines please

    • says

      Sally, Sending very tight hugs your way! Bedtime woes can ruin the entire day and put everyone in yucky moods. I think taking few toys into their room might be a very good answer for you. Perhaps select very specific toys. Ones that you know will entertain them, ones that are relaxing and require quiet concentration. Think puzzles, building toys, babies. If they are staying up late, what time are they waking? Would you be able to wake them earlier? it might take some time to get them into the routine of going to bed and waking earlier. Does that help? Please ask if you need more info. I want every family to have peaceful bedtimes!!!

      • Sally says

        Hi just wanted to let you know all 3 of my eldest are doing this, making small (& smart) changes on night 2 made all the difference. We put the rule in place with miss 4 that she comes out to us for goodnight cuddle & kiss, then we stand at her bedroom door & reassure her she is ok (to soothe the anxiety fueled tuck my blanket in antics) & give plenty of praise for her doing this herself then when she is ready we turn out the lights. Complete success all wk, hubby & I have managed me time, together time & even sleep. Thank you thank you!

  103. Leya says

    My 4 yrs old boy and 2.5 yrs old boy share a room. One hour after leaving their room, they were still playing with Lego and the 2.5 yrs old was making more noise than I wanted him to (a lot of chatting back and forth between the two). I think he was just excited to “stay up and build Lego with his 4 yrs old brother”. Your suggestion is that just plain being loud are grounds for sleep time. Do I remind them about the RULE of making loud noises and turn off the light for them to go to sleep? I did, then my 2.5 yrs old wanted to come down. Now, what do I do? My 4 yrs old was more quiet but still chatting with his younger brother and didn’t look like he was going to sleep anytime soon, because he was content with playing with the Legos. He told me that he was going to turn off the light but his younger brother didn’t want him to turn the light off. Would you suggest to place two smaller sized lamp near their own bed

    • says

      Leya,
      We do let the kids talk and play together. (It’s actually been a great sibling connection time.) We stop them if it turns into wresting or loud play. When one of our kids is ready for sleep before the other we scoot the “awake” kiddo towards the hall or into the hall. They are usually not far behind. Does that help? Ask away if you have more questions.
      Jillian

      • Leya Ognoskie says

        Hi Jillian,

        I need your help. My son who is 2.5 yrs old has been sharing his room with his 4 yrs old brother. My 4 yrs old gets tired and ready for bed after giving him “rest time” , however my 2.5 yrs old seems to be so excited to have this “rest time” with his brother. I told them to play QUIETLY, but the 2.5 yrs old keeps making exciting noises as he plays with his animal figures. As you mention, the light is on and allow them to talk as they play but when the 4 yrs old is ready to turn off the light, the 2.5 yrs old tries to stop him from turning off the light. We decided to separate them and moved 4.5 yrs old into the room with 6 yrs old and 9 months old baby. So now, 2.5 yrs old is by himself in the room. Just a clarification. Do I tell him to come out of the room when he is ready to sleep? How long would you let him stay up? What do I do if he wants to come out of his room and play in the living room instead? What do I do/say so I don’t need to stay until he fall asleep? We have a regular babysitter who does bed time routine twice a week. When she does the bed time routine, she is able to have him in bed and sleep and she doesn’t even stay by him until he falls asleep. I am sure it is because she is not his mother and I am his mother, but still…

        Thank you Jillian for your advise.

        Leya

        • says

          Hi Leya! At 2.5 it might take him a bit longer to understand the “rules” and routine. I would not let him play where you are. Once in a while Hubby and I unwind in our room right next to the kids, that almost always ends up being a problem. I think parents can be pretty stimulating. I would probably just keep trying what you’re doing. Stay as positive as possible and make sure he has some good quiet play things to occupy him. Remind him that when he comes out or gets too loud it will be time for bed THEN when he follows the routine the way you are expecting jump on it. Be over the top excited the next day. “Wow! You must have really been enjoying rest time last night. How did it feel to have that time to relax? When you choose to go to bed how did it feel? Did you feel like a big boy? I’m so proud of the way you were able to take charge of your own sleep.”
          I hope that helps and I can’t wait to hear how it goes. Let me know if you have anymore questions.

  104. Anouk says

    Hi, (First sory for my righting english, I’m francophone)
    The situation here was like your’s, desperate ! When I red your post I decided to try it. First night was a desaster ! I realize I had put too much limits (no playing together, no noise, etc.) The day after I changed the rules: stay in your room and calm play. That’s it. It now work pretty well since 2 weeks ! Not perfect every day but still way better ! And some nights they even went to bed earlier that they where used to ! And the night they play together it’s the better time they play togheter ! No problems ever for an hour !

    Thank you so much ! Can we translate it in french and share ? I’m sure it will be helpful for others to ! (The translation will be done profesionnaly, my husband is a translator from english to french…not me as you can see ;o)

    Thank’s again !

    Anouk

    • says

      A beautiful thing happens actually Elizabeth. My 7 and 8 year old share a room. An added bonus to this entire bedtime routine is that the kids get quiet time to play side by side or sometimes together. It’s the most cooperative time they have. They chat and laugh and I am thrilled for them that they get to experience it.

      When one is ready for bed before the other we scoot the “awake” kid to the hall until they are ready. That doesn’t happen very often because they usually decide together it’s time for sleep.

  105. Stephanie says

    This sounds dreamy!
    Forgive me if I sound dumb, but what is the point of them coming out when they want to go to bed?…for you to physically put them in bed? Are you downstairs doing adult time when they are playing? Just trying to get the formula right :)

    • says

      Yes you have it exactly right! We put the kids in jammies and brush teeth before rest time. When they tell us they are ready for bed we help them pick up and tuck them in. Meanwhile we have adult time (or doing dishes/ picking up time. :)) Good luck! can’t wait to hear how it goes.

  106. says

    This absolutely works for us! We started with my now-4 year old when he was 3 and bedtime had become a total nightmare. The power struggle was keeping him up until 10 or 11 every night and we were all miserable. I finally thought, maybe he wasn’t tired at 8 when we wanted him to go to bed (because WE were tired!) so we removed the power struggle. IT WORKED and still does. He’s 4 and regularly goes to bed at about 9 with no fuss. My 22 month old still takes a little more prompting because he is still learning to recognize when he is tired, but he is beginning to let us know when he wants to go to bed now (and even when he wants to nap, once in a while!).

    We don’t even have rules about it. We just wind down around 7:30-8 each night depending on how tired the toddler is, get him into pajamas and brush both boys’ teeth. After the little one is asleep we play quietly with the 4 yo for a bit and then my husband and I settle down with books, dim the lights, etc. We let him play quietly and soon enough he lets us know that he is ready for potty, pajamas, and bed. It’s totally peaceful and easy.

  107. Jennifer says

    This sounds like a great idea but here’s my problem. I have a little insomniac child. I’m sitting on the couch listening to her singing right now. She’s been in bed for about an hour. The light’s been off for 45 minutes but she’s sitting on her bed playing with her toys. She probably will not sleep until my husband gets home from work and takes her into our bed. He should be home in about an hour. She’ll fall asleep within minutes of going to bed with him. She’s 4, by the way.

    She’s been up since 7 this morning and didn’t nap. In fact, she hasn’t slept during the day in about 6 months. I am strict about “quiet time” because I would go crazy without it. She plays quietly in her room for an hour but never sleeps. I never insist that she be in her bed, just that she be in her room.

    I don’t know how she survives on such little sleep.

    My fight with her is not the actual going to bed part. The rule is she has to be in bed by 8 and she doesn’t fight me about it. I think this is because she knows that she’s not really going to sleep; that she’ll play in her bed until she wants to sleep.

    My struggle right now is the bedtime routine. She doesn’t want to start picking up her toys until as late as possible and then dawdles while picking up. I have to stand there in her room and say “you should pick up the doll now” and “now pick up the blocks.” Tonight it took 45 minutes to pick up her toys. It’s a job that should take 5 to 10 minutes. And if she runs late on picking up the toys then the rest of the routine is pushed back. Tonight we had to skip the bath because there was no time.

    I’ve come to realize that if I want her in her bed (or bedroom if we followed your plan) by 8, then I have to start thinking about getting her to bed by about 4. We have to start wrapping up the games. I have to start talking about picking up. I have to finish our books for the day. Then I also have to start dinner at the same time. It’s simply exhausting and incredibly frustrating and it doesn’t make me much of a nice mommy at bedtime.

    Update – she cried and said she wanted to be in my bed. I said she could be in my bed if the light was off and she was under the covers. She’s in our bed now and it sounds like she’s finally asleep which is actually about 30 minutes early for her (it’s 9:30 here).

    I’ve long since gave up stressing about the numbers of hours she sleeps. I can’t make her fall asleep. All I can insist on is that she be in bed (or to follow your plan, in her room), by an hour that allows me some peace in the evening.

    Any advice for me? In keeping with the not nice mommy after the sun goes down thing, I’ve considered threatening that the toys that are not picked up by 6:30 are put in my room for a day. Maybe that would motivate her to pick up her toys without my nagging her. And she’s perfectly capable of picking up. She attends a Waldorf school where the children have been taught to pick up the classroom everyday. I think I’ve got all of the aspects of the bedtime routine down (bath – if there’s time although I prefer at least a quick bath every day, books, brushing teeth and prayers) but it’s the picking up part before the routine begins that seems to throw things out of whack. I could easily change things to say that by 8 she needs to be in her room, instead of insisting she be in her bed.

    And this raises another question for me – if the kids play in their room, is the room a big mess when they finally fall asleep? That would drive me crazy. I may sound obsessive harping about picking up over and over again but I really hate to wake up to a messy house. And I’m not a neat freak, by any stretch of the imagination, but like to go to bed with a reasonably tidy house and I really hate walking into my daughter’s room when the light is out and tripping over a toy or stepping on something.

    Ugg sorry for the long rant. It’s just a particularly touchy subject for me, especially this time of night.

    The other little complication is that husband works late (meaning about 10 or 11) usually twice a week. She wants to stay up to see him and as soon as she hears him come in, she wants to talk to him and he wants to talk to her too.

    And to clarify, she co-slept with us until about 6 months ago but she’s back to sleeping with us almost every night again.

    • says

      :) First off it really sounds like you’re in a pretty good place. I bet with a few tweeks you will have the evening of your dreams. I think you are right on not demanding she sleep (not a doctor of course) but everyone is different in what they need as far as sleep. I think it’s pretty impressive how well you know yourself and your daughter. High five to you!

      SOOO here are the tips that come to mind right off.

      - What is the very first thing you do after cleaning up? Is it something she loves? Could it be? That might be the motivation she needs to get moving quickly. It probably wouldn’t have to be something time consuming just exciting. We also make a game out of clean up. (It’s a race or you pick up everything blue I’ll pick up everything green.) Also you might ask her teacher what they do. Following the exact steps could help.
      - Yes we clean up before bed MOST nights. I don’t think you really need to change what you’re doing already though. It sounds like it’s working well for you guys.
      - As far as Daddy working late :( that is probably hard for all of you, especially since it’s not an every day part of the routine. Perhaps you could alter her routine a bit by having Daddy leave a special message that she gets to read when you are tucking her in? or maybe he could call and say good night? something so that she is not holding herself awake for him. Maybe even brainstorm ideas WITH her.

      Please ask if you have more questions and come back and let me know how these ‘tweeks’ work for you.

    • Beth T says

      Just a note about co-sleeping. My daughter co-slept with us until she turned 7. Then she was too big for us to all comfortably fit in our queen sized bed. We came up with a compromise that works wonderfully. She has 2 nights in her bed and 1 night in ours. Sometimes, like last night, we stretched the 2 nights in her bed to 3 nights. She was sick all last week and slept with me while my husband slept in her bed. I explained that mommy and daddy needed extra alone time to make up for it, and she was find with that knowing that tonight she will sleep in our bed with no arguments. We have told her that come summer she will have 1 night a week in our bed, and she didn’t have a problem with that either.
      Also, my daughter survives on little sleep as well – barely survives honestly. She’s tired all the time but hates to sleep. We’re still trying to figure out what to do! (she’s 7 1/2 now)

  108. says

    We do this to an extent with our son. He is a really good sleeper and has never done the whole coming out of his room thing, so if he isn’t tired after we have read him his bed time books and said good night, we let him look at books or play on his own. He usually lasts a max of 30 mins before he is fast asleep.
    The Monko recently posted..Easy Peasy Puppet show

  109. Devon says

    I want to try your method, but I have a few questions about what exactly to do… My daughter will be three in two weeks. We have a bedtime routine (bath, 2 books, lights out and in bed, 2 stories, sleep). But I end up sitting next to her bed and patting her back for up to an hour or more some nights. My questions:
    1. Do you leave the lights on while they play?
    2. What happens when they leave the room? Do you put them in the bed and walk away?
    3. What do you do if they keep leaving the room? Put back in bed over and over? Or timeout? Something else?
    4. What do you do for nighttime wake-ups?
    5. I have been patting my daughter’s back for so long (and some nights in desperation I have let her fall asleep with me on her floor). Any suggestions on transitioning away from patting her back?
    Thank you!
    A Mommy-in-need-of-me-time

    • says

      1. Do you leave the lights on while they play? — yes, we turn them off when they are ready for sleep.
      2. What happens when they leave the room? Do you put them in the bed and walk away? — we very calmly help them into bed. we make it as positive as possible, kiss them good night and tuck them in.
      3. What do you do if they keep leaving the room? Put back in bed over and over? Or timeout? Something else? — She is still pretty young so this may be different for you, we remind them that it was their choice to go to sleep and that rest time is over. They can make a different choice tomorrow but now is time for sleep (The truth is we RARELY have that happen, even since the beginning.) If she comes out talk about how much she enjoyed her rest, what she might do tomorrow. Just try to keep it positive.
      4. What do you do for nighttime wake-ups? I give a kiss and back rub. And stay until they are calm.
      5. I have been patting my daughter’s back for so long (and some nights in desperation I have let her fall asleep with me on her floor). Any suggestions on transitioning away from patting her back? Try just dropping it when you switch routines. Or rub her back for a bit at the beginning of rest time? 3 year olds LOVE to be big. Tell her this new routine is because she’s so big.

      Good luck! Can’t wait to hear how it goes.

  110. Janet says

    I have a 3 year old daughter and she can’t fall a sleep without bottle a milk.And she want to me stay with her unti she fall a sleep.If i came out her room she cried and screen until a come back.I have to read a bedtime story and singing sometimes over a hour.She could’nt lie down in the bed.I dont mind to reading a story but she wanna change a book every 5 min.
    I dont know what i have to do.How take off the bottle from her.

  111. India says

    This is amazing! We’ve been struggling with bedtime with our three year old daughter for a long time, and I saw this post go by on facebook. We decided to give it a try and it worked beautifully! My daughter played for a few minutes, picked up her toys put them away and told me she was ready for bed. Same thing the next night with just my husband home with her (which is not her norm) and she was asleep when I got home a half hour past her bedtime! Thank you so much for sharing this! You have changed the face of bedtime in our home for the better :)

  112. Savannah says

    We tried this tonight. WOW! C didn’t come out of his room once and DH and I actually had time to relax. I might actually go to bed at a decent hour. I don’t lay down with my children except for pre-bedtime cuddles and stories. But C always wants a cracker, more water, or some type of demand. This worked FABULOUSLY for us! Thank you for sharing this.

    • Savannah says

      By the way , we eliminated the coming out means C is tired and ready to go to bed. We say our goodnights before we leave and let him play. But that’s just us.

        • says

          27 months is pretty young for this routine, but if you scan the comments I think you’ll find that others have tried with success! The technique would have to be altered a bit, but just think how nice it would be to figure it out now instead of waiting. :)

  113. Beth T says

    I’m wondering how this would work with older children. My daughter is 7 1/2 and has been a terrible sleeper since birth. Every night I tuck her in sometime between 8 and 9, depending on what our schedule is and how much homework she has. We read, sing songs, say prayers, and I leave. Most nights she gets out of bed 2-3 times to ask to come tuck in again, or to say she can’t sleep. It drives me crazy and I end up yelling. Once she is settled in bed she plays loudly, sings loudly, and basically fools around until she falls asleep between 10-11pm. She gets up at 8am and is totally exhausted every day. My husband does her AM routine because I’m at school by then, and he tells me that she is horrible in the morning. It takes forever to get her up, she is slow at eating and dressing, and sometimes she’ll go back to sleep when he thinks she’s getting dressed. Hands down, she is not getting enough sleep. She hates to sleep. I just wonder what kind of results this has gotten from kids who don’t like sleep….anyone out there in a similar situation?

    • says

      I would give this one a shot. If she is given the opportunity to choose her sleep time right off the bat it probably won’t end up being so late (the battle can be quite stimulating). I think my kids actually started sleeping better once they were falling asleep before they were exhausted. You might find that tweaking the bedtime routine helps the morning routine as well. Good luck!

  114. Justine Talbot says

    I just wanted to thank you for sharing your bedtime routine. My two year old has been pushing the boundaries for the past two months, and bedtime was becoming a stressful time, where she was getting in trouble multiple times and rarely settled to sleep before 10 pm and sometimes later, after being put in bed at 7 for the first time of the night.

    Well tonight, I tried your routine with her and she did come out once or twice (but not 500 times!) and only had to be told off once when she hit me after being sent back to her room following a toilet trip. Other than that, she spent the whole time playing quietly with books and soft toys, and asked to be tucked into bed about three times all up (she got back out and played a few times). In the end, she was asleep by 8.20, and here I am actually having time and energy to type this thankyou comment! So thankyou!

  115. Nim says

    We also converted to this method following the birth of our second child when we decidedwe would not put us all through anymore pressured bedtimes. It woils fir us and it’s rare that our eldest (5yr) will wait beyond 8 to ask to go to sleep. Yes, we went from arguments to her asking! Now at 2 yr herbrother takes hher cue. The only difference is we allow them to use our company to sooththem to sleep with a cuddle or stories. I know some will say this stops tthem learning to self soothe but the research suggests otherwise and our children rarely disturb us again once asleep in the evening so it seems to set them up for a more solid sleep. I would recommend giving it a try for a month, but we found we had to ‘let go’ of our anxiety about ‘getting me time’ at the start to get it off the ground… now we get the time to ourselves most nights (unless they are unwell) so it was worth it. Best of all though for me is knowing they go to sleep feeling peaceful.

  116. says

    This is an amazing idea that I will definitely be using down the road if needed. Luckily, my daughter is a dream when it comes to going to bed. If I mention the ‘bedtime’ word too early, I risk her wanting to go to bed then, and therefore waking up way too early. The kid loves going to bed. I don’t know why, but I don’t blame her and I love it.
    Venassa recently posted..Bullet Points of My Life Lately

  117. Jennifer G says

    Hoping to start this tomorrow with my 6 yr old. I found it too late to start it today. Hopefully it will be a start to getting him sleeping in his own bed too (any tips for making that painless? I am considering bribery, as he will do just about anything for money)

    • says

      Hee hee! My 8 year old will do anything for money too! I don’t know if I’d use it for this though… it might get expensive. Where’s he sleeping now? With you? Does he have quiet type toys in his room already? Is he interested in being a “big kid”? That might be a good theme to the new strategy. I’m happy to be support while you figure this out. Sleep is so important… for everyone!

      • Jennifer G says

        Thanks for the quick response. Right now, I sleep on the loveseat, my 6 yo sleeps on the couch and my 1 yr old sleeps in his pack and play, all of us in the living room. My husband works until 11pm (usually later) every night and mostly stays in town at his apartment so that he is not making an hour and 15 minute commute at midnight. So the living room situation kind of works for us, but not really. Prior to baby brother coming along, my 6 yr old was at least starting the night in his bed. We did some remodeling and it took WAY too long to complete his room and it was finally finished while I was in the hospital giving birth to the baby. Between sleep deprivation from a newborn and now not having the baby’s room cleared out yet (my husband’s old office), and still night nursing A LOT, and not wanting big brother to think I was pushing him away because of baby brother, I just haven’t had the motivation to force the issue. But it is time. He is graduating kindergarten next month. He will be a first grader soon. Big boys don’t sleep on the couch in the living room with Mommy. I mean how is he supposed to have or go to sleepovers if he is still sleeping in the living room with me?!?

        • says

          Yep that’s a situation that needs changing. I totally get the snowball of “it was working until it wasn’t”. While it’s true that he needs the downtime and his own space. So do you. By putting in a little time now you just might find you have your own relax and recharge time. Much needed by all of you I’m sure!

          The tips I would give you are be positive. This is a great change for both of you. Ask him what might help make the transition to his bed easier. Would he like a night light? Music? A special lovey in his bed?

          Be consistent and strong. Once you’ve made yourself a plan that will really work for you. Keep it, don’t sway. What time do you want him in his room for rest? Where will baby be? What will you do? “While you enjoy playing with your toys for rest time, I’m going to sit on the couch and read a book.”

          Get help. If he is resistant, you’ll want some one to be able text or message. Your hubby may not be in the house but he can be on call. Share your plan with him (and maybe have him help you with it since he will be home on some nights) and text him for support while you give it a try.

          I’m excited for you… let me know how it goes!

          • Jennifer G says

            Thank you for all the tips. We will start implementing them tonight and I will let you know how it goes.

  118. says

    Please help my 5yr old sleeps with us and we want him out of our bed and into his bed would this work for us. We tried and tried everything to letting him cry it out to the point where he throws up it’s excusting my husband works nights so it’s so hard I’m drained so I give up please help.

    • says

      First off… BIG BIG HUGS to you! I do think this might work for you. Do you have any specific questions? I’d suggest reading through the post and making a solid plan with your husband. My biggest tip is to stay really positive. This is good for your son… and he should feel good about it.

  119. says

    Ok so my issue is I have a 2 1/2 yr old that has started sleeping with her 8 yr old sister in the same bed. I have made the mistake of letting my older fall asleep with the TV on for ever. I grew up the same way, so now both my girls will not go to bed/sleep with out the TV. My 8 yr old will watch it for 20-30 min and is asleep but the 2 yr old wants to stay up for hours watching Dora or whatever and now she is up and down for hours waking me up to go potty or what juice in her cup or to start a new episode. I have no idea how to break them from the habit of no tv to go to sleep. I most often have to get up and work at 3 am, I work from home for uhaul and I am not getting any sleep. Taking away the TV seems like it will be a huge issue, any help would be great!!!
    Kellie Taylor recently posted..Storytelling with Props: Bring Favorite Stories to Life

    • says

      Kellie, Maybe just try out this technique. It might be enough of a change that the TV goes away without that having to be the focus. Do they have other times that they watch TV? Maybe highlight that they will watch a show after school/ before dinner/ etc. instead. Then be really positive and upbeat about rest time. I know for us… TV acts as a stimulant and DOES NOT help for a peaceful good night.

  120. Ed & Christine says

    We were very happy to read about this and all the comments that followed it. But it left us with a few questions of our own…

    1. For those that got this method to work, does it continue to work? Is it long term?

    2. We are co-sleeping and a separate room is not an option, what ideas or alternative solutions did other people come up with for this? We’re sure we can’t be the only ones!

    3. What final stages were required at “put-down” or lights out? For example, did you read stories before or after the final play-time?

    Just a final note, our son is 18 months old and still needs to be walked/rocked to sleep. Suggestions to how to encourage or explain things to him in a way he understands would be appreciated!

    • says

      Hmmm… Great questions! 1. We’ve been using it for over 2 years now and it still works. I’m amazed by it all the time! 2. I don’t have expeince with co-sleeping BUT I would guess that you could use the same technique. If he goes to sleep before you, he would have rest time where it’s comfortable and then go to where he sleeps. And no you can’t be the only ones! I could ask for advice on my Facebook page if you’d like. 3. What works best for us, it that everything is done before rest time. Jammies on, books read, teeth brushed. That way all they have to do is go potty and get a few hugs and kisses. They are tired at the at point and we don’t want to stir them up again.

      My kids were older than 2 when I started but I really wish I would have tried earlier. It would have saved me A LOT of headaches. You might play to his desire to be a BIG kid. Let him have a modified rest time and then ease out by rubbing his back instead of rocking.

      • Ed & Christine says

        He is getting into the “I’ll do it” phase more and more, so we will give your suggestion a try, thanks!

        Also, if you can ask your Facebook group for us for advice about the co-sleeping thing that would be sooo helpful. Can you post a link to the FB group for us?

        • says

          I have to apologize because I don’t remember if I ever posted this to FB or not! Did I ever send you a link? Is it still an issue?

  121. says

    We have been doing a version of this since my oldest was two and it has always been great! Our only difference is we go in and sing songs and tuck them in at the beginning. They take books to bed with them and read or play quietly until theyre tired an then go to sleep when they’re ready. Most nights they are asleep within 20 min :) with the exception being my 8 yr old, sometimes she gets really in to a book and stays up a tad late….ive found her in the morning with her glasses still on!

    • Sarah says

      What do you do when you are out for the evening at someone else’s house? Sorry if you have already replied to a similar question, I couldn’t see anything…

      • says

        Great question. We don’t go out much (are we boring or what?) but when we do the kids just stay up. They’ll watch a movie or something restful with the kids we are with. If we have people at our house that don’t have kids or even a babysitter the routine stays the same. It always shocks me on those off nights how well it still works.

        If you are a family that goes out a lot, I think just having a solid plan ahead of time would make a big difference.

    • says

      That’s so cute! The other day I found Little M (7 years old) with her legs crossed with her pencil and notebook in front of her. It looked like she was sitting up until she just fell back.

  122. says

    This sounds amazing…I’m wondering if anyone has done this with a kid who is terrified of being alone?

    My 3.5-year-old is killing us with his bedtime demands.

    • says

      Lara, I’m guessing your little one is the only child then? This might still work if you find things they are really interested in. Try making rest time a joint effort and then backing away. “I have to go to the bathroom, I’ll be right back.” “I’m going to go grab the laundry, be back in a few minutes.” If you gradually give them more and more alone rest time while they are engaged… they may not even notice.

      Glad to help if you have any more questions or just want to run a plan by me. (Also sorry for all the “they” references. You didn’t say if you have a boy or a girl.)

      • says

        Hi Jillian,
        Thank you so much for your response! No, he’s not an only child – has a 15-month-old brother – but they don’t share a room (and, honestly, I wouldn’t trust him to be alone in the same room as his brother – he is still having trouble adjusting to having a brother…that’s another issue altogether). I’ve been thinking more about this, though, and I do think we need to bring some toys that really engage him up to his room (right now, it pretty much just has books in it). I suppose I need to ponder this some more, maybe put some special toys in his room for him to play with, and get my husband on board with it, too (who blew me off last night when I mentioned this). I really appreciate your taking the time to advise on this!

        • says

          My mission is to have every house enjoying bed time. :) Did you see the comment in the post that say’s “My husband insisted I write this”? That might help you bring Hubby around. It’s really important to be on the same page, especially when you’re dealing with tired cranky people.

  123. Bridget says

    I’m wondering when you read to them? Before or after they have quiet play time? We read right before bedtime every night and I have to cut it off. My girls always beg for more books. Wondering if you have reading on the list to do when they are ready for bed. I think my girls would end up staying up way later if I did this with them. also couldn’t have them play together. They’d feed off each other and stay up until midnight. I’m raising night-owls. I feel really sorry for them because I have been like they are my whole life.

    • says

      Hmmm… that’s interesting Bridget. I wonder if this routine might change that a bit. You might be surprised. My kids feed off each other during the day too. They can’t walk by with out tickling, tugging or sticking a foot out to touch each other. But at rest time, they play side by side. I actually think this special time has given then a chance to experience each other in an entirely new way. So I would still try it. ;)

      Reading changes with our schedule. Right now Hubby is working right up to dinner time. He takes a shower after dinner. It’s a great time for the kids and I to snuggle and read. Sometimes it works better for us to read in the morning. But I would always but it before rest time. When they are ready for bed I want it to be potty, kiss, hug… sleep.

  124. Vira says

    Wow that’s is such a fantastic idea but my own question is how do I do that to a 20 month old as my daughter loses it if I put her to bed she just wants me we’ve tried to set a routine but never works and she always ends up in my bed she will never stay in her bed for the hole night any advise

    • says

      I wish so much that I had an answer for you Vira. Maybe I should borrow a baby and test some stuff out. Hee hee. We didn’t try this until my kids were a little older, but trust me if I wish I would have been doing it from the beginning.

      My advice? Sit down and make a modified plan. If you want to come back here with your plan I could help you square it away. Good luck!

  125. joleigh says

    I haven’t been able to read through all the comments, but I’m guessing most of you are SAHMs? I don’t think this technique would work in our house when the hubs and I have to have our 4 children out the door to the sitter and be at our desks by 8. Having our kids feel the ‘consequence’ of being overtired seems cruel to have to deal w/ away from home at the sitters and it’d be unfair for their caretaker and other children to have to deal w/ that too. I think the shift would be from bedtime yelling for them to go to sleep to morning yelling for them to get up and get going. Our children are 8, 6 and 4. While the 6yo can fall asleep with no trouble, the 8yo often complains that the 4yo’s bedtime singing/talking keeps him awake. We simply don’t have room in our home to split them up. And they can’t very well camp out in the living room if the hubs and I are trying to have ‘us’ time.

    • says

      The consequence of being tired if pretty drastic and honestly at our house rarely goes that far. We find that the kids are ready for bed at a reasonable time. The interesting thing about your situation is that they probably all need different amounts of sleep. (I actually love that my kids share a room and I’m glad we don’t have the space for me to think otherwise. :) ) When one of my kids is ready for sleep before the other one, we scoot them towards the hall so we can turn out the light. It’s already restful and quiet so it’s not a problem. You might find that the 4 year singing and talking while the 8 year old is quietly playing works nicely.

      Let me know if you decide to give it a try!

  126. MRS570 says

    I’m curious if there is anything I can do now to lead up to this? My little one is only 20 months and still in a crib, also has sever separation anxiety. She would not make it more than 3-5 mins playing alone in her room. I’m not sure if there is any way to start this when they are that young? Or if there is a step before this I can try?

    • says

      Oh I love that idea! Maybe try setting up rest time as something you do together. Then when she is older you can slowly decrease the amount of time you are spending with her until she is enjoying rest time alone.

  127. Shayla Belland says

    I think I understand the premise, but am unsure of the logistics. What do you do to tuck your child in, you know, once they are ready?

    When my daughter comes out of her room and says she is ready for bed, I still picture her expecting me to lay with her until she falls asleep.

    • says

      If you are laying with her now, then I would suppose she would expect it. Maybe if you try eliminating that when you make the switch. “We have a fun new bed time idea! Instead of me laying with you, we are going start having rest time. You will play quietly in here, come and tell me when you’re ready for sleep, and then I will come in give you a kiss and a hug. Then I will turn out the light and say goodnight.”

      Sometimes switching a routine completely is the best way to change something.

  128. K mom of twins says

    Bedtime with our twin 3 year old boys has become a nightmare. One still nurses and the other wants to stay up all night long. Im going to give this a try but I also worry that coming out means they think I will lay with them until they fall asleep – which means I fall asleep and then lose out on “my time”. I think I have to work out the logistics (they also dont have a door on their room – too many pinched fingers and twin fighting rituals nixed that). I will give this a try and see how it goes!

    • says

      Yeah, definitely give it a try. And stay positive. If you want to figure out your plan and then bring it to me. I’ll help you fine tune it. :)

  129. jade lewis says

    Hi! My question is how would you do this with a 17 month old who doesn’t really play in her bedroom? This is something I will try when she’s older though. Brilliant idea :)

    • says

      This is the million dollar question Jade and unfortunately I didn’t try it when the kids were that little (trust me I wish I had)!

      I just responded to a comment that suggested the family could start laying the ground work now. I thought that was brilliant. Maybe you start having rest time with your little one and as she gets older gradually increase the amount of time she’s alone.

  130. Meggan says

    I read the Love & Logic book and love it, but I have some questions. My children are 19 months and 4 years. My 4-year old usually goes down fairly easily (bath, book, prayer, sing 2 songs, sleep). But I have to lay down with her for those things… Does that continue with this plan? Her routine usually takes an hour or so. My 19 month old’s bedtime is torture…. And we co sleep and he is still nursing. Thoughts on what this looks like for him? And what about when the 4-yr-old wakes up in the middle of the night? I would just like more info on how this could work for my situation. Thanks!

    • says

      Honestly, it depends on if laying down with her is important to you. If it’s the snuggling you want to keep, maybe read books and snuggle before rest time?

      As for the 19 month old… I don’t have any experience with this technique and kids that young. Another parent suggested she might start prepping her toddler for this routine and I think that’s a fantastic idea. Maybe try joining them for rest time (unless they have separate bedtimes, then I would stick to the 19 month old for this) as they are more and more comfortable with playing decrease the time you are in there. Go and use the bathroom or grab the laundry and be gone for longer and longer periods.

      Good luck! And I would love to hear how this works for you.

  131. Valerie says

    What is like to know is when you say noisiness and fighting are grounds for bedtime, what do you do then? Do you turn off the lights and resume what you used to do, ie stay until they fall asleep? Or turn off the lights and walk back out?

    • says

      We calmly (probably more calm some nights than others :) ) remind them that noisy, rowdy play is one way to let us know they are ready for bed. Then we proceed just like we would if they had verbally told us they were ready. Once in a while they will complain a little or ask for another chance. And they get one… the next night.

      • Dee says

        Hi Jillian. That’s the part I’ve been wondering about since reading your original article and then many of the comments. Rowdy play and such like are signals that they are ready for bed, the same as if they came out and asked you to put them to bed. But, especially on your first night of doing this, if there is rowdy play and you start putting them to bed, what is the procedure for that? Aren’t you in the same position you started with before trying the procedure – having to stay with them till they sleep, having them calling for you or coming out of the bedroom looking for you and so on? I have two girls – almost 6 and almost 3. Night time is painful – we get practically no time to ourselves because we give in to them not going to sleep without one of us with them. Dying to find a solution, and I think I’ll try this. Just curious how you dealt with it when it doesn’t go totally to plan.

        • says

          Believe it or not Dee, they didn’t ever fight it in the beginning. Try to stay really positive and remind them that they’ll get another chance tomorrow. I hope it works for you — we all need some down time!

  132. Becky says

    I’m wondering what happened the first few nights when they came out of their rooms to kind of “test the waters” or because they weren’t used to the rules yet. Was it a rough bedtime for a bit? My 4 year old son goes to sleep quite easily right now, he knows he’s tired, he loves cuddle time with me and he is asleep about 5 minutes after I lay down with him so for now he doesn’t need this. My 2.5 year old daughter is a different story. She has always needed someone in her room with her. I have tried a quiet time in the afternoon and she cries and refuses to stay in her room by herself. I sit in her room with her while she plays and she is fine. I’m worried that if I tried this at bedtime she would do the same. At night she starts the night by herself but when she wakes up around 1 or 2 my husband goes in and sleeps in her room, which helps her go right back to sleep. Any ideas on how to make this work? We don’t have many fights at bedtime but it takes awhile to get her to sleep and my husband lays with her and usually falls asleep and doesn’t wake up until after I am in bed so we never get to talk or anything. Thanks in advance!

    • says

      That’s awesome that your 4 year old has such a wonderful natural bedtime! 2.5 is just a hard (but exciting and fun) age all around. When you tried quiet time in her room for nap did you do it gradually? You might try doing rest time with her and then gradually spending less and less time there. Pick times when she is really engaged in something and say “I have to go potty, I’ll be right back.” Pretty soon she’ll be used to large chunks of alone time.

      When my kids wake up in the night, I give them a kiss and hug and rub their back for a couple of minutes. Then I leave them to go back to sleep on their own. That’s what has worked for us, but there were a few comments left here that using the rest time technique cut down the middle of the night waking.

      Hope that helps!

  133. Jen says

    I am going to try your technique with my 32 month old. Just want to say it is nice that you personally reply to nearly everyone even after two years. That’s cool. :)

  134. ethomp says

    This sounds a lot like my childhood naptime and bedtime routine. My parents would read to us or sing songs, if we where lucky both. Then they would kiss and hug my brother and I goodnight. Send us off to our rooms telling us we could play, read, or whatever; but we could not come out of our rooms until morning. They even did it when we started school. The rule was that we couldn’t complain when it was time to get up. If we did, our priveliges where revoked. It taught us a lot about how to manage our sleep at a young age. So of course I’ve been doing the same with my son. He is usually asleep within an hour after we say our goodnights.

  135. K says

    My boys (3 years old and 6 months old) share a room. Little guy is out within minutes in his crib, big guy goes into bed as soon as little guy is asleep. Big guy currently is in and out of bed and calling for me for HOURS on end and of course waking little guy up. So I guess I’m wondering how I get big guy to PLAY QUIETLY! he is anything but quiet right now at bed time.

    I’d love to try this but i’m having trouble wrapping my head around the logistics of room sharing and “playing” while little guy is sleeping..

    • says

      Is there another part of the house that he could have quiet time? Maybe a playroom or office? Something that is away from you so he can still experience restful alone time, but where he won’t wake the little guy?

  136. Jamie says

    Do you have any tips on discipline! My 4 yr old talks back dont listen throws fits and u tell her not to do something and she gives u a smart look and does it anyway

  137. sophie says

    This is how it works at my house and I always urge everyone to try it and they think i am crazy lol but it is seriously worth a shot! My son was about 2 when we started, he is on the Autism spectrum and it was always a fight to get him to sleep. Letting him decide was the best thing for us. We do the same with my daughter now too, she is 2 years old. They play for a while and then either call me upstairs or come get me to tuck them in

    • says

      Thank you for sharing your story! Do you have any tips for doing it with a 2 year old? I get a lot of questions about how it works for younger kids and I didn’t start until the kids were older.

  138. Cena says

    I have already been doing this with my daughter for a couple of years now. It works most of the time, but the biggest battle now at bed time is just getting her to go into the room in first place. But once I get her in she is fine and falls asleep without knowing it.

    • says

      There are some things that work for us to get the kids excited about rest time. We’ll talk over dinner about what they might want to do for rest, this gets them working a plan out in there head and usually they can’t wait to get to it. Sometimes I’ll pull books off the shelf or put a quiet game in there as an invitation to play.

  139. Rachel says

    Do you have any advice for also transitioning a child to fall asleep on their own? We still have to sit with my 4 year old until she falls asleep. About half the time she will sleep all night in her bed, then the other half the time she comes into our room sometime in the night. I would love to try this, but still see myself sitting with her after she has come out from playing to signal she is ready for bed. She has never been a good sleeper, and we have tried so many things with very few of them ever actually working long term. Were your kids already going to sleep on their own when you did this?

    • says

      If you are staying with her now, then I would suppose she would expect it. Maybe if you try eliminating that when you make the switch. “We have a fun new bed time idea! Instead of me laying with you, we are going start having rest time. You will play quietly in here, come and tell me when you’re ready for sleep, and then I will come in give you a kiss and a hug. Then I will turn out the light and say goodnight.”

      Sometimes switching a routine completely is the best way to change something.

    • Nelly V says

      Rachel,
      I would love to hear if you make any progress with not having to lay with her in bed until she falls asleep! I just posted a comment about this same issue.
      Nelly

  140. Melissa Bracho says

    Hello. I love the idea, but I got a 3y/o bedsharer (sleeps with us) who sleeps after 11pm and I have to be with him in bed… he has trouble sleeping and more trpuble waking before 9am!!! Do you think the key is waking him earlier?? Plus, he takes 2-3hour naps sometimes from 1-4pm, others from 4-7pm, that KILLS me!!! But hubby wont cooperate (he’s in charge from 6am to 3pm)… suggestions??

    • says

      Best suggestion I have is to try to get Hubby on board. There’s a great comment from a reader and her husband in the bottom of the post… maybe that will help convince him?

      I am certainly no sleep expert, but I wonder if getting him on a more regular routine would help him sleep better? Do you cosleep because you want to and think it’s important OR is it because that’s what your son wants?

  141. says

    This is awesome… I love this idea and this article. We have unconsciously been doing this with our almost-2yo since she stopped breastfeeding +- 6 weeks ago. Though she’s only asleep by 10pm each night we have a lovely relaxed evening while she plays quietly and we get to watch tv or catch up on work. Revolutionary idea haha :)
    Caroline recently posted..Beating bedtime battles – by: Caroline

  142. Magan says

    Omg omg this sounds great I cant wait to try it with my daughter. It was almost midnight before she finally went to sleep tonight….shes 4 so I really hopes this works thank u so much for the idea. I have a few really cool things I do with my daughter that work like a charm for getting her to brush her teeth and her hair. I mean really work it went from literally chasing her around the house with her hair brush to her doing it herself and letting me get what she missed this worked amazingly. So if you are tired of having a tarrible fight every morning and every night e mail me ill let u in on my secret lol or I would be happy to post it if im allowed
    thanks
    Magan

  143. Jilly says

    Hi, loved reading your suggestion. This would work in one child rooms but has anyone had success with multiple kids in one bedroom? Any other suggestions??

  144. Sheree says

    I’ve been doing this kind of thing with my 14 yr old since she was a baby and similar thing with my 4 yr old now we have never had issues with bed time people use to tell me why don’t ur kids have bed times id go crazy if they aren’t in bed by a certain time or how do u do it with out them calling u every 5 sec but they know when I say bed time with in 10 mins they are in bed and within half hr asleep it’s great

  145. Stephani says

    My 26 mo is going into a big girl bed in the next week or 2. Her bestime is usually 7ish. She goes down easily in a crib but I’m petrified of what will happen wheni transition her. Would this work with a 2yo? I’m a teacher so I want to transition her in the summer when it’s not a big deal if I’m up late. Lol. She can be quite a fighter and quite stubborn. I’m really scared. Lol. Will she understand the staying in her room till she’s ready for bed idea? And when should I start her in her room? 6:30?

    • says

      If she’s a fighter and stubborn I’m guessing she also likes to be in charge and independent? She’ll probably love being about to make a choice!

      Another reader left a comment mentioning that she’s going to modify this technique with the idea that this is how it will go. Maybe you could start doing rest time with her and gradually spend less and less time. Getting up to switch the laundry or go to the bathroom and staying gone for longer periods of time.

      I can’t wait to hear how it goes!

  146. luisa says

    Ok so, after reading your post I forward it to my husband and he replied, let’s do this I miss you.
    So we modified it since he doesn’t get home until 5 and on Mondays it’s my chore day. My son, who is 4 looks forward to his dad coming home and going outside to work on car, yard, play and go for a walk. At 8:30 they came inside and took a bath, wash teeth, read books and then he explained the rules, he was surprised but agreed on it. 18 mins later he came out and told him he was ready for bed. Son came to give me kiss goodnite. It’s only day one but we were kid free by 9!! Thank you very much we will continue to tweak it as needed!!

  147. Laura says

    Several years ago we did something that helped with keeping the kids out of our bed when they woke up in the middle of the night. I bought one of those trifold lawn chairs and made some sheets to slip over it. The rule was that anyone who needed mom and dad during the night could come in whenever they needed, and stay for as long as they liked, but they had to sleep on the “cot”. It was definitely a life changer. I could help them with bad dreams, illness, or whatever and still get sleep. If you have space to do something similar (maybe just a sleeping bag and foam pad?) I say give it a try. Within just a few weeks it drastically reduced the number of times we got visitors. I think just knowing they can come helps them not need it so often.

  148. Nelly V says

    This sounds like a great idea! But I’m wondering if this could work for us. Currently we get out kids (soon to be 6yo and 3yo) ready for bed by 7:30ish with a goal of falling asleep by 8pm-ish. We’ll lay in bed with them (they each have their own rooms) and read a bedtime story, lights out and then lay with them until the fall asleep. Some nights they fall asleep within 10 minutes. Some nights it take literally an hour (i know, a bad habit we started long ago). This “trick” sounds like it could work, but here is my dilemma….

    Both my husband and I work full time. I get home around 6:30pm and my husband 7pm. We try to get our kindergartener in bed by 8pm so that he has enough sleep for the next day. So between 7pm-8pm is when we get to spend time together and talk about how our day went. I’d be sad to see this family time go away by sending him to his room to play quietly before he is ready to put himself to bed. I’m sure there are other parents in the same boat as us. What do you guys do? What do you recommend?

    • Jen L says

      Nelly,
      We struggled trying it at first (just recently) because my husband and I both work and we get so little time with our 3 yo already but we’ve been doing this now for a week. We are starting her “alone play” at the same time we would have read stories and laid down with her so we didn’t take it out of any of our “play/connect” time that we had earlier in the night. The first night she stayed up later then we would have wanted but it has gotten shorter and shorter each night. We as well used to lay in bed w/ her until she fell asleep. We still put our dog in the room for her to sleep with but it has been a huge transformation this past week. Thank you Jilian for this idea! It has worked wonders!

      • Nelly V says

        Jen, so I’m a bit confused now. We just tried this technique this evening. We got our son ready for bed by 7:30pm and I told him it was now his ‘wind down time’ and that he could do quiet activity in his room. I reminded him that when he was ready for bed, he could come to my room to get me to tuck him in. He played quietly for 30 mins and then came to my room to tell me he was ready for bed. So I tucked him in and tried to walk away, but he kept insisting I lay down with him until he falls asleep. Because you mentioned you used to lay with your daughter in bed until she feel asleep too, how did this technique help you move away from that?

        • Jamie says

          I’m feeling the exact way as Nellie V. The “once out straight to sleep rule” seems like it would turn into exactly what we already go through every night. You can’t make some one go “straight to sleep” and my kids will not go to sleep with out me whether they have chosen their bedtime or not. glad it has worked for you though, man I would love to solve the bedtime problem. :)

        • Jen L says

          It hasn’t been easy…she still insists. We do read 1 book after she’s “ready for bed” and we also use our dog as a tool. Our dog goes in and lays in her room (where our daughter can see her) while she falls asleep (versus us). The other thing I used is I took one of her stuffed animals that she hadn’t really paid attention to and the first night me (via “Mr. Bear”) had a conversation with her stuffed animal “Teddy” about how Bear was going to sleep with her and Teddy instead of mommy but mommy would come back and check on us every so often to make sure we were all still tucked in. The Bear/Teddy conversation has reoccured each night in slightly different forms (Bear asking Teddy whether it’s ok if he sleeps with them again?, etc) I don’t want to imply it’s been easy. Last night she fussed when I gave her the kiss goodnight saying “no, lay down with me” but I grabbed bear had our “conversation” and then tried to distract her with questions on what would make her more comfortable. I reiterated Mommy isn’t going to lay with you but…Do you want me to leave the light on or off? Do you want the door cracked or shut or open? Those type of things. From after the book was done to when I walked out of the room is usually less than 5 minutes. I do see after about a week her resistance is getting to be less. We also rotate between myself and my husband so it isn’t always one of us tucking her in. Hope this helps…

          • says

            I love this conversation! Thank you for sharing your experience Jen, it’s really great to see how this works with different family situations than my own.

            Nellie, did you try again?

            Jamie, if you’re stuck in a “not so fun” bedtime it wouldn’t hurt to give this a try.

          • Nelly V says

            Hi All! Yes, we did try again. And every night it has been getting easier and easier.

            The first night was tough. He wined and cried and insisted I lay with him in bed until he fell asleep. I reminded him that Mommy & Daddy needed their own wind down time too, and by him acting this way he was taking away from our wind down time. He still cried for me to lay down with him so I semi-caved in. And I say semi, because I didn’t lay with him in the bed, instead I sat next to his bed in a chair until he fell asleep (took no more than 5 minutes).

            Day 2 & 3 was OK. We gave him his time to wind down alone in his room. When 8pm rolled around we gave him a gentle reminder that it was almost time for bed. He fussed a bit and asked if I could lay down with him, but after a couple of times asking and me reminding him that he was a big boy and that mommy needed her wind down time he laid in his bed and fell asleep on his own.

            Day 4 & 5: Things are going well! Again, we give him his wind down time in his room and gently remind him when 8pm rolls around that its time for bed. He hops in his bed without a fight. He did get up a few times. Once to use the bathroom, once to get a drink of water, and twice to ask me a “very important question” But NO fussing or crying!! That is a victory in itself! It will take him about 10-15 minutes to finally fall asleep, but he’s doing it on his own… without me having to lay in bed with him.

            Day 6 (tonight): After wind down time, I tucked him in. He asked (nicely) if I could lay with him, and again, I reminded him about my wind down time. He’s now laying in his room, I’m not sure if he fell asleep yet or not, but its quiet and he hasn’t come out yet. :)

            I’m so excited that this seems to be working!! **knock on wood** Oh, one thing to note. We did also implement a sticker chart this evening. Every night that he lays in bed by himself and falls asleep like a big boy, he gets to earn one sticker. At the end of the week, if he earns at least 6 stickers, he gets to have video game time on Saturday/Sunday. I’m so glad I came across this post!! Thank you!!!

  149. Erin says

    I think it’s a great idea. Typically, my son isn’t too hard to get to bed, unless he’s overly tired. He doesn’t have a bottle anymore, but he always has to go to bed with a sippy cup of water. He’s usually too tired to drink much. I always let him take toys to bed, if he desires. Sometimes, there’s two, other times 10. I really don’t care. I read him a story and a hug and kiss. His only rule is that he needs to stay in his room. Some nights, he’ll fight with it, but not often. He usually will lay in his bed and sing to himself and play with toys. It takes anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 hours, but he almost always stays in bed. I think some freedom is vital for kids. They still need rules, but they also need to feel like they are “in charge” of the situation themselves. I think this gives us a good balance.

  150. says

    Questions!! Pls help :) Firstly, can’t wait to try this. Thx for all these wonderful tips!!
    1) I have a 3 yr old, she’s an only child. She has a playroom next to her bedroom.., do I place toys in the bedroom, so she’s already there/familiarity? Bc we think she dislikes her room so much bc it’s only for sleeping… Which she also dislikes, lol! Kind of has me thinking that that alone could help. :)
    2) assuming no tv/video games? for obvious reasons… Which I agree with, if so. BUT, I know undoing the habit I’ve allowed, of watching a show before her bedtime, will be tough. Big regret there. Ideas?
    3) My sister has a 9 yr old son, she has a TERRIBLE time getting him to bed! He would (and has) sneak out of bed to read or play Legos all night. She’s used the ‘let him suffer the next day’ method a few times, to no avail! That kid loves staying up, especially to read! Or play.. Anything. Suggestions?? I feel he’s the I’ve type this would truly backfire, but my sister would be forever grateful for a useful tip! This battle has been ongoing for years!!

    • says

      1) It’s worth trying to move a few select toys into her room!
      2) My kids get more wound up when they watch TV and on the night we do occasionally let them watch before bed, I always regret it. Changing the routine to having rest time is the perfect time to eliminate the show before bed (and if she questions it you can say something like “you watched a show before dinner instead, remember?”)
      3)Sounds like she’s already tried this technique and yep maybe this is a kid it won’t work for. My only suggestion would be trying to start rest time earlier. you know that point when you stop making good decision because you’re just too tired? Or you can stay up way later than normal if you just get past that point of exhaustion? Maybe he’s missing that point?

  151. Ann says

    I have three toddlers and atthe moment they share a room. Bedtime is a nightmare for me.i feel like I have tried everything, all they want to do is fight at bedtime and come in and out of their room. If I shut their door they kick and scream for hours in the end they end up in bed with me. Their dad is a truck driver, so its all on me. What do I do to get a good night sleep. Please

    • says

      Ann,
      I think this technique will work well for you. Doing it on your own might be easier actually, because you are in charge of everything at that point. Maybe have hubby help you make the plan and then keep him on call for support?
      Good luck!

  152. Jennifer says

    How do you get a 2 1/2 yr old to bed and play in his room alone when his 5 mo old brother is still in living area or being carried around by me and husband doesn’t get home from work until 9:30. Both him and his brother are already close and don’t like being away from one another and the 2 1/2 year old needs more one on one time with me (can see it in frustrations) which usually doesn’t happen till after 5 mo old goes to bed which anytime between 815 and 915. by the time 5 mo old goes down 2 1/2 relishes the one on one time with mom! And they share a room. Im not such much bothered by the late nights as i am when it comes to weekends and they don’t sleep in. I have to find a way to get more rest or my body will eventually breakdown severely or i will have a mental breakdown. Also, could getting less than normal amount of sleep for toddle cause him to not sleep through night? he is getting up most nights one to two times and climbing into our bed. after he falls back asleep we can usually put him back into his bed with no problem. He can go to bed at 10:45 and get up at 6:45 everyday and only have an hour nap if that. Is this normal because I feel like i need more sleep than he does.

    • says

      I am sending you big hugs! The beginning years are so much fun, but they are also exhausting. For you situation I would suggest modifying the rest time portion. Since the 5 month old is on a pretty good routine, you know that you will have one on one time. Maybe try having a very short activity for you and your toddler. Remember even 10 minutes of full concentration can go a very long way to connecting.

      Make sure it’s not too stimulating. Something like reading, puzzles or lacing cards. Snuggle and talk. Just keep it calm and relaxing.

      Also you could start by giving him a choice of bedtime in a less obvious way. “Would you like to go to bed after one book or after one puzzle?”

      Good luck — and remember you’ll be on your way to more sleep soon!

  153. Shorty says

    There is one thing on that strategy, that I don’t understand: Why do your kids accept, that after they came out of the room they fall asleep? Our daughter doesn’t. She plays alone in her room for a while, then comes to us and wants to play with us.
    Even of she would want to sleep she often is not able to.
    You don’t mention anyhow the consequences after being ready with playing.
    Up to now it doesn’t make sense to me

    • says

      We try to reinforce that they will have rest time tomorrow. We remind them that they made the choice to go to sleep, so their body and mind must be ready for sleep. What a BIG KID choice to make!

      The best thing is just to stay as positive as possible.

      • Cristin says

        So we’ve tried this the past 5 or 6 nights. And it’s worked ok one night, the others were marginally better than before we started. I’m willing to continue to try it but I think I need reassurance. My boys are 2 and 4. They go in about 7 and every night have played for about 45 minutes when they come out and say they are ready for bed. My husband and I go in read books, sing songs and talk with them one on one. We say good night and leave. Both boys usually look like they are ready to roll over and fall asleep, especially the 2 year old. But about 5-10 minutes after we leave they are fighting, jumping on the bed or rough housing. My husband and I take turns going in and laying them back down. We are positive at first, explaining that they need their rest because we are going to have fun tomorrow etc but they are up and up and up. Eventually we are punishing them. For example we take their special blankets or toys or we take away their morning tv time. And I feel like we are back to exactly where we were a week ago before we tried this system. Do you have suggestions? I’m very frustrated…

        • says

          I have an idea! Try doing the one on one time, books and songs BEFORE rest time. You might be stimulating them enough to give them a second wind. Good luck! And please check back.

  154. Jennifer says

    I loved this idea. We have been doing this for two and half weeks with our daughter. It has worked so well for her. Thanks for the idea.

      • Lorraine says

        Hello, I’m very keen to try this but not sure how to introduce it to my two girls (2 and 4). What do you say about it in advance?

        At the moment they don’t usually drop off til 9 and I spend at least an hour feeding the younger one while sitting next to the older one and rubbing their back and there are lots of delaying tactics on going to bed. It is exhausting. They both have toddler beds in the same room and the youngest starts off in there (after dropping to sleep feeding) but then wakes up screaming and comes in with me. All pointers gratefully received.

        Also when one comes out and the other doesn’t how do you apply the time for bed for both or do you?

        Thank you! Lorraine

  155. Viktoria says

    Do you close the door? Leave a light on? I want to try this with my son, he’ll be 3 next month and currently won’t fall asleep without someone sleeping next to him. I’m wondering how to “set the stage” so to speak. My husband is a Drill Instructor and for 3 months straight he isn’t home at night to assist with bedtime routines. I also have a 6 week old daughter that EBF every hour and a half so I don’t really have the option of laying down with my son every night. I am willing to try anything to teach my son to rely on himself to fall asleep but I am so lost!

    • says

      We leave the door open for rest time and for bed time. We close it when we go to bed. During rest time they have the lights on, when they are ready for sleep we turn off the light and leave the hall light on.

      Is your husband home now? I would probably have him help you with the plan (even if it’s over the phone). That will help him support you and it will make the transition of him coming home easier. I’m here for your too and do my best to respond to comments on these past asap.

      good luck and I’m sending big hugs!

      • Viktoria says

        Thank you :) and yes he os home for now (we have two full weeks, yay!) I presented this bedtime method to him tonight and we are going to begin it tomorrow. We are also going to try to implement this for nap/relaxing time as well. I’m praying for success! Thank you for your prompt reply :)

  156. Ingrid says

    I love this idea! We are on night 3 with my 2 year old and it’s working. The only problem is we start the routine around 7 and he’s not going to bed until 10/10:30. He’s sleeping better through the night though and wakes around 7:30/8. Any suggestions for encouraging an earlier bedtime?

    • says

      Sometimes the answer is as simple as making sure she doesn’t miss that “golden window” between not tired yet and so tired I need to gather a second wind. Maybe try putting him into his room 15 – 30 minutes earlier. Good luck!

    • says

      OR Try going in when you are ready and guiding him to bed. We do that sometimes and they just go along as if it had been their choice. (of course that’s only few and far between).

  157. Ross says

    This sounds great and i want to try it, but before i do i need to know how to enforce “bed time” if they come out of their room after i have explained doing so means they are ready for bed, also how do you enforce no noisy play?

    • says

      It sounds crazy Ross, but they probably won’t come out. It’s because they told you they were ready and they really are tired and ready for sleep. If they do, a calm reminder that they told (or showed) you they were ready should work. There is also the positive reminder that they’ll get to have rest time again tomorrow!

      We do not allow noisy play. It’s just too stimulating. Noisy play is one of the ways the “tell” us they are ready for bed.

  158. says

    We have been trying this for a couple weeks and it’s been a disaster every night. We used this method with our first child (without realizing it) and it’s always been successful. (He is our “rule follower” and doesn’t give us much trouble, has always stayed in his bed, etc). Our second child just turned 3 and slept great in a crib but moved into a bed in January and has wanted us to sleep with him every night. If we leave the room he will keep coming out and get himself so worked up he vomits. It happens every night. Then once he is finally asleep he will wake up at least one more time during the night crying and will come find us. We are so exhausted. He is not taking well to this method. He will play for a minute or two then realize he is alone and just get hysterical. Any ideas??? The pediatrician just told us to lock the door and let him vomit and eventually he would stop but he is so different from my older son and I have a harder time letting him do that! We have had several people suggest the boys sleep together but my older son would rather be alone.

    • says

      I’m sending you big, big hugs Mary!!! That sounds so hard and I know you are not alone (there are couple hundred comments here to prove it). Tell me about when you put him in for rest time.

      Is it “cold turkey” or have you tried easing him into it? He may be overwhelmed and not really know what to do with all that time and space. Maybe try staying with him and playing quietly next to him. You could help him get settled into something and then have a sudden urgent task. Go to the bathroom, grab something from another room. At first you could be gone only minutes, everyday increase the time little by little until he is comfortable for long periods of time.

      Eventually he might be happy to start on his own.

      Let me know if that helps or if you need anymore support! I’m here for you. ;)

      • Mary says

        Thanks for your response Jill! I dropped his nap during the day because we were having so many bed time struggles but I still make him rest most days for at least 45 min. He doesn’t seem to have a problem with that (for the most part) but does sneak out of his room a lot. No crying though. So I don’t really care as long as I’m getting a break. So that being said, I didn’t think doing the same at bedtime would be cold turkey but maybe it is? We had no problems going to bed in a crib. He could climb out if he wanted but wouldn’t do it, so it is strange it bothers him more in a bed?? I will try tonight to stay for just a little bit but afraid he will follow me out. I feel like it’s turned into more of a manipulation scenario now vs him being scared (what I thought originally). Just a pain because he doesn’t just do it for us…makes it difficult with babysitters, etc.

        Will start doing baby steps tonight with it!

  159. debbi says

    I am intrigued! My girls (2 and 4) share a room. The younger naps and can therefor stay up later. Is there a way to do this with them in the room together?

  160. Sasha says

    Worked for me. Our 3.5yr old is in the major testing phase and after a few night of him screaming for 1/2 an hour at the crack under the door with me sitting outside holding the door handle with the breaker turned off to prevent the light from being turned on anything is better. So… he still stays up waaay too late but at least the screaming part is gone. I stay with him for 30min (bribe for doing teeth and not being a total ass around going to bed). Play, review the day, plan tomorrow, then leave when the timer goes off I leave and he plays usually for another hour or so with light off, door cracked open and then falls a sleep by himself. Now to shift the whole pattern earlier in the night!

  161. Tiffany says

    I have two children Easton (3 turning 4 on july 29th) and Kyler is 2! I was having a horrible time at bedtime until I read this now bedtime is so much easier! Thank you for writing this, my husband works second shift in the coal mines meaning he leaves at 1pm and doesn’t get home until 1am so I am completely on my own for most of the day and by bedtime I am so exhausted that I just didn’t have the energy to argue with them about bedtime but thanks to you I no longer have to!

  162. Tammy says

    I wanted to share that I tried this technique with my 2.5 year old and 5 year old last night. It worked like a charm! No more angry mama or unhappy kids. My 5 year old came out once to tell me she was ready to go to sleep. My 2.5 year old just fell asleep in his bed playing with his Legos! I’m so glad I gave it a try. Now, what to do with all the time in my evening! :D Thanks for sharing your struggles and your success.

      • jill says

        I’ve read through almost all of the comments/questions on this post, however I still havent figured out what to do when they come out of their room after the initial time (when they decided it was bedtime. ) So, I guess my question is what do we do when they continue to run out of their room continuously? I should add we have a 3 &4 year old sharing a room.

  163. Sue says

    How do you get your children to stay in their rooms in the middle of the night?

    Our daughter isn’t terrible at bedtime, but at 11pm every night she wakes up and is upset and wants to sleep with us. We sometimes pull her into our bed, then my husband and I sleep poorly (she sleeps great then!), or we will walk her back to her room and she’s up and asking to sleep with us again just a couple of hours later. It’s exhausting. And while I like having her snuggled next to us, most nights one of us winds up on the couch and quick frankly I miss sleeping with my husband. I’m okay with her coming into us on nights she has a bad dream or if something has her especially upset, but it’s every night.

    I really like this idea about her saying when she’s ready to sleep, to help ease some of the time we spend in her room at bedtime waiting for her to go to sleep, and I’m going to try it, but I’m curious to know how you manage the night waking/nighttime anxiety?

    She is 3 years old.

  164. Brittany says

    My only problem with this is my daughter (3)*doesnt want to even go play in her room quietly. In fact she thro we a big fit about it when I mention it.

  165. Farah says

    Hmm kinda what’s been happening at our house in their rooms by about 8, 6 yr old is asleep soon after but 8 yr old is often still awake reading :/ I may even go in at some point and switch the light off bit he’ll then open the door and read with the light from the hallway :/

  166. Rowan El Mehdawy says

    My baby boy is now almost 13 months old! I don’t think I can start this routine with him now, if I leave the room he stands up in his crib and starts crying for me to come back to the room. Not only that, he always wants to fall asleep holding my hand!!!! I’m starting to lose patience and would be really thankful for any tip for his age!

  167. says

    The only issue I foresee in this is that my 3 year old son doesn’t want me to go downstairs. He insists I stay in my room so I go to bed when he does. His twin sister plays in her room for hours and comes ramming in my room like 10 times before bed I think this will work for her. Any suggestions for my son?

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