I'm wondering how you deal with children repeatedly getting out of bed after they have been tucked in for the night. After going through the entire bedtime routine, my 3 1/2 year old daughter often appears at the top of the stairs minutes later, claiming she can't sleep. I understand an extra drink or trip to the bathroom before she settles down for the night, but really I think she just doesn't want to miss out on anything that might be going on while she's in bed. Short of keeping up her up until the rest of the family is in bed or tiptoeing around the house until she's fallen asleep, how can I help her understand that bedtime is non-negotiable? It discourages me that an otherwise wonderful day together can end on a sour note as we spend an extra hour convincing her that it really is time to go to bed. I would much rather send her to bed with hugs and kisses than tired lectures on obedience, agency, and consequences.
Thank you for your ideas and willingness to share your life experiences with all of us.
I really wish there were a simple answer to this question. Have you heard this little song?
I love it because it confirms the universal nature of this problem. Children hate going to bed. I've always laughed at the irony of things--how I'd love to have someone lead me to a quiet room every day and order me to take a nap, how I'd enjoy being congratulated for eating everything on my plate--and even seconds!, how I'd jump at the chance to go to bed every night at a regular time--undisturbed til morning. Just about the time human beings make the shift to loving sleep, it becomes a vice instead of a virtue. But that is the way of things.
There are people who are extremely structured about bedtimes, but I've always wondered how they did it. Because young children have such varied schedules--some days they take a late nap, some days no nap, some days tired, some days not so much, bedtimes vary somewhat. I just watched for the signs that my children were tired. If they napped til four in the afternoon, they probably wouldn't go to be til I did. On an ideal day, my little children would all take a nap or have a good rest right after lunch so they were ready for bed by 7:30 or 8:00, but like me, they didn't always stick to that schedule. I wasn't one to put them in bed at 7:00 no matter what and then battle with them for 2 hours because they really weren't tired. I just tried to read their cues.
But I understand that many women like to have several hours of uninterrupted time with their husband at night. We weren't like that so much. We didn't mind having a child up if they were pleasant and not tired. When they got tired, we put them to bed. Around school age, we established a pretty firm bedtime that seemed natural. Even now, we have scripture study at 8:30 and then bed. Our children fall into that routine easily at that age and our older teenagers choose their bedtime.
Good luck. You're not alone in the bedtime battle.