There are many difficulties that arise when you have multiple children, and coordinating bedtime routines is definitely one of them! How do you manage older children’s bedtime routines with the non-schedule of a new baby?
Like many parenting tasks, the key to managing sibling sleep routines is planning. Simply going with the flow every night is not going to be helpful to anyone. The kids will be running in different directions, you will be stressed, and your kids won’t be getting to bed at a reasonable hour.
The first place to start with your plan is to consider each child’s individual needs as well as your own needs. Come up with an initial plan with the understanding that this can be a starting point. It doesn’t need to be set in stone, and it will likely need adjustments as you uncover what works well and what doesn’t.
Juggling the different needs of each child is definitely a challenge. There are different biological bedtimes, different personalities, and different tendencies; however, choosing one bedtime that comes close to meeting all of your children’s biological clocks is probably your best bet. Otherwise, you end up losing your entire evening to the challenges of various bedtimes.
Once you have a set bedtime, arrange naps and meals to coordinate with that bedtime. If you have three kids you will be able to do everything in sets of three - snacks for three, three pairs of pajamas, three sets of teeth to brush, and bedtime stories with three snuggly kids.
Of course, this might not work for some families. You may prefer to put one child to bed at a time. I found in my own family that this was easier to do when the older siblings were a bit older and coordinating their bedtimes didn’t make sense once baby number four arrived. It was easier to put the baby down first, and then tag team with my husband to each take a different child’s bedtime routine.
Regardless of which method you choose, take the time to think through it, make a plan, and then follow through with it! But… we all know that nothing works forever in the realm of parenting, which means that you might need to vary your plan from time to time. Some nights will go better than others. Life will get in the way occasionally. But overall you should see a more peaceful bedtime routine.
If all else fails, keep your eye on the important things in life like spending time with your children… and grab a nap when you can!
These tips are from The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers.