This is a slight reworking of a response post to a good friend of mine whose bedtime routine had just gone sideways. You’re reading a 1/10th of the conversation here, for which I apologize, but the remaining 9/10ths are not mine to repost:
…Keep this in mind about routines, bedtime and otherwise: humans (even those of us who think we’re uber-spontaneous) are habitual creatures, and we form bad habits and bad routines just as we do good ones (and faster too). So at certain ages and stages it doesn’t take much for a couple of out-of-whack nights to push us into a bad routine–the whole bath-pjs-book-sleep to be turned into bath-pjs-book, book, book, whine, run around, complain, have a meltdown sleep –and then do it again the next night, because this is what I do every night, right?
Every few months, I find myself in this situation still with one or all three of mine, and need to press the reset button! But I find that before returning to the positive routine–or building a new one–I need to get into a “throw everything out and surrender” for a few nights, and not do any of the things I’d usually do (or want to do in the new bedtime routine). Does that make sense?
These days, I find the mistake I’m making with bedtime for the kids is that my head gets into bedtime space as soon as the freakin’ sun sets, and I start the whole thing too early.
…I should ‘fess up that one of us still stays in the room with the kids until they fall asleep. But we have a “disengage.” So a really long reading session is part of our bedtime. I mean long. I’ve read for two hours at bedtime (critical part of the homeschooling plan, frankly) for the older two these days, cause during the day, they don’t sit and snuggle on the couch with me as often as they used to.) And then, I’m done–or Sean’s done–and I read my book quietly. Or work on the laptop.
Our kids like lights on to fall asleep, so that’s feasible. If you need to do it in the dark–disengage with i-Pod headphones on and listen to a book on tape or something. And they drift off to sleep, and I get “me time” and “sitting on my butt time” (my favourite these days!) all at the same time.