If you’ve been following us, you probably know that we are FANS of an early bedtime. We work with a lot of working Moms and Dads, so we hear a lot of feedback on this recommendation. The consensus is that working Moms find it difficult to balance healthy sleep habits for their children and their desire to spend more time with them. I get it 100%. I’m a full-time working Mom and my husband works full-time as well. Below you will find my top tips for working Moms to balance healthy sleep habits and their need for quality time.
Knowing that this is a struggle for many families, why do we continue to recommend an early bedtime?
We know that an earlier bedtime makes the bedtime routine and falling asleep easier. In many cases, the refusal to sleep has more to do with the child’s schedule and routine adjustments, than your child not wanting to sleep. Bedtime becomes easier once those adjustments are made.
What times do we recommend for bedtime?
In 99% of the families I work with, we shift bedtime earlier. For overtired infants and toddlers, this can be as early as 6:00 – 6:30pm depending on daytime napping. Average bedtime for well rested babies and toddlers is in between 6:30 – 7:30 pm.
Does an earlier bedtime mean my child won’t cry at bedtime?
I never promise zero crying when you’re teaching your child to fall asleep independently. Whenever we make changes, children protest those changes because they love routine and consistency. Them crying is their way of voicing their unhappiness with the change.
Once they start to get more rest, the crying lessens and sleep becomes easier – for everyone. The new routine becomes their new norm. An earlier bedtime makes it easier for them to settle with little or no tears, once they have learned the skill of putting themselves to sleep and aren’t overtired.
How can you get enough time with your child with an early bedtime?
The biggest question or concern I get when I recommend early bedtime is how do I get enough time with my little one? Many parents are arriving home from work between 5:30-6pm and bedtime is 6:30.
I struggled with this when I sleep trained my girls. I still struggle with it on nights if I’ve worked late or have another commitment that gets me home closer to bedtime.
When mom guilt rears its ugly head, I remember that my children live in the moment. My children are happy to have me home with them for any length of time. They can’t tell time yet. I remind myself, it’s not so much about the quantity of time we spend together, as it is the quality.
How do we make any early bedtime work?
Here are some tips my husband and I use for our evening routines that have helped us with the balance of working, raising kids and maintaining an age-appropriate bedtime.
Tips for Working Moms and Dad to Balance Healthy Sleep Habits
- Do weekly meal prep. If you start your week off prepared, it will make the rest of the week run smoother. I create a menu for the week of what we’re having for dinner and meal prep to ensure dinner is quick and easy for both the kids and the adults. The girls eat first and we eat after we put them to bed. We’d like a family dinner each night, but right now it doesn’t work with our schedules. I’m also a huge fan of Hannaford to go – our local grocery store’s pick-up service, and I have tried meal delivery services like HelloFresh and Blue Apron, to help us save time. These are other great options for your family if meal prepping on Sunday isn’t possible.
- Put your phones down and be present. When we get home, we put our phones away and we focus on family time. As I mentioned, this is about quality over quantity for your family so being focused and fully present enhances that quality time.
- Turn off the TV and tablets. Spend quality time playing outside or getting down on the floor with your kiddos before you start their bedtime routine. This helps them to get the connection time that they crave and limiting the blue light from electronic devices will make bedtime much easier.
- Streamline the bedtime routine. Your routine should be simple and straightforward, but most importantly it should be consistent. I recommend a bedtime routine no longer than 30 minutes. A longer routine risks your child getting overtired and bedtime becoming a battle.
- Take turns with the bedtime routine. Alternate nights for putting the kids to bed. This gives one parent more one to one time with the kids one night, while the other parent starts dinner, cleans up, etc. If you alternate nights, you each get to have that one on one time with the kiddos, and you can each develop something special for your night with the kids. For example – when daddy puts us to bed, he reads two books and when mommy puts us to bed, we get to sing two lullabies.
- Sleep Train. If your children’s bedtime routine is taking way too long and you aren’t having any down time between their bedtime and yours, it may be time to sleep train. Is your child is over 4-5 months of age and waking up more than 1-2 times per night? If so, it is likely time to sleep train. It is impossible to be effective at work and an effective parent on no sleep.
I still feel Mom guilt. Thirty minutes after we put our girls to bed, I miss them. We have found for our family, getting enough rest keeps us all happier and healthier. And for us that’s what makes it all worth it.