The Power of a Good Bedtime Routine

Before Parenthood

Before the birth of my son, I considered myself a fairly organized person. One might say my house is “lived in” but usually one wouldn’t say my house is “a mess” (I hope). Now that my son is here, any weakness I had previously has been brought to light.

One of these weaknesses is my propensity to forget to switch clothes from the washer to the dryer. My mother can attest that this has been a shortcoming of mine since childhood. Doing laundry with good intentions gone bad…or soured actually. Oops!

One of my husband’s weaknesses is how much he hates to do dishes…but we won’t go there.”

Wait a second, I thought this was supposed to be about a bedtime routine, not your shortcomings regarding housework!

Routine as a Necessity

Yes, well my point is that designing and implementing a routine is what has now become an absolute necessity. Whereas before, I could just use the last hour before my husband came home to spruce up the place and start dinner and things looked pretty decent around here. The truth is, even though my son is nearly 4 months old, I still don’t have an hour. Heck, I’m lucky if I had time to use the bathroom! (Every mother’s creed.)

Things have been getting easier though, as I figure out how to do once easy tasks with one hand. (Here’s a thought for a parenting class…make them do everything with one hand tied behind their back.) Two weeks ago I told my husband, “I’ve got this!” It was beautiful! Laundry was getting done and staying caught up. (Yay, some shirts without spit up on them!) Dishes were being caught up every day. I even started cooking and baking a little bit. I thought I had arrived.

Then all of a sudden, our no-longer-a-newborn son started to wake up every two hours. No big deal, right? Must be a growth spurt. A few days later and it was still happening. In fact, most nights he has been up EVERY HOUR but not super interested in eating! What is the deal?

Sleep Regression

So I started to ask questions online. Why is my 4 month old waking up every two hours? First dozen results proclaim: 4 month sleep regression. What is that? And WHY did no one tell me about it?

The 4 month sleep regression is basically this: As a newborn, a baby basically has one type of sleep – deep sleep. Now that baby is growing well and maturing and his sleep cycles start to become more like an adults, going through phases both light and deep sleep throughout the night. Except for one important factor, unlike adults, upon wakening out of light sleep, baby doesn’t know how to put himself BACK to sleep. He needs the same associations to put him to sleep that got him there in the first place. For bedtime ideas, click here.

In the case of my son, this means Mommy. To go further, this means Mommy must nurse me.

So I continued my research, begged people for advice, and chose my method of transition. The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley. I literally bought the book a couple days ago, so I’m still reading it. (I’m a fast reader, but remember that time I have very little of?)

Solid Bedtime Routine

However, one of the first things Pantley encourages is a solid bedtime routine. My husband and I had been doing some of the same things each evening, which always ended in my nursing our son to sleep, so we didn’t think much of the other things we did. We were reading to him because we want him to learn good communication skills and be smart. Now we also do it for the sake of the routine.

I cannot emphasize enough the power of a good bedtime routine no matter what sleep solution you prefer. In two nights, it has changed my baby’s sleep. It’s still not perfect, because we have lots more transitioning to do, but it HAS improved.

The important thing is to do the same thing each night in order. This helps cue your baby that it’s time for sleeping.

To remember exactly what we did and in what order, I wrote it down for my husband and me to reference. I was whisking the baby off to accomplish bedtime leaving my husband missing our son, so we’ve already tweaked it a bit so that my husband gets to wish our son a goodnight before I nurse him to sleep. (Because you don’t distract an eating baby. That may result in pain to Mommy and glares in Daddy’s general direction.)

There is so much I’m learning about my baby’s sleep. I’m gleaning a lot from this resource. And also important, I’m realizing the necessity of a good routine in all aspects of my life. We all function a little better (ok, maybe a lot better) when our lives have a bit more structure to them. Structure helps you get through the days you need to be more flexible without knocking the wind out of you.

So my goal this week, while I’m still learning to teach my son good sleep habits, is to work on creating and implementing a routine to help structure the rest of my life. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but I’m betting the dishes will get done.

Share with us:

How are you coping with your new life as a parent? How do you get things done?

“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—”
Ecclesiastes 3:1

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Routines are important for your baby (and YOU!) My wife and I have 4 children. We learned from the mistakes of our first and developed a bedtime routine for our 2nd and 3rd. However, she returned to college when our 3rd was 1 and sleep routines for her and the 4th have gone out the window. Parenting is a work-in-process, but now we have the benefit of hindsight where we can see everything we did wrong:(

Keep blogging, the research required will definitely help you be a better parent while learning best practices.

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