Regular and persistent routine. It’s our key to unlocking more time for my wife and I to do things for ourselves and each other. After all we need to relax and have some time out too, but only when everything is properly prepared for the next day of course!
So, regulate everything. Try and make sure everything is done at the same time every night. Get the kids prepared properly by repeating the same processes. Give them a bath and have some splashing fun with them and their toys. You can use this time to teach small things like alphabet, counting or singing. Get them into bed at the same time each evening. Make it something to look forward to by reading their favourite stories. Lower the volume of your voice and try to use different pitched tones while reading, almost as if you’re singing them a lullaby. It’s just a magical thing to watch them slowly fall asleep whilst you read.
If this doesn’t work you can play them lullabies. We have a 1GB iPod Shuffle filled with night time appropriate nursery rhymes and the odd white noise ‘sounds of nature’ mixed in. Our 4 year old takes pride in owning her own little music player and pink speaker that glows a soft blue.
There’s no right or wrong way to do this bit, but try to cut out day time naps as early as you can. They will still need it every so often and it’s OK as far as I know, but it can be disruptive to night time routines and from what I’ve read, deep REM sleep is essential to brain development and memory consolidation.
For newborn babys, our tips would involve making sure he/she gets minimal disturbance. Find the right way her him/her to lie in the Moses basket/crib (always on their back). Find the right clothes and temperature for the room. Make sure the light level is low.
When it’s time to feed try to make sure there is no noise and don’t talk to them too much. Try to note the time and amount of milk they consume. Make sure if bottle feeding that everything required has been set up and sterilised before you sneak off to bed. Boil some water for the bottles – we found that pouring it into a flask at 45 degrees would keep it at a good temperature for feeding throughout the duration.
Buy a formula dispenser. With one of these bad boys you can add the correct amount of formula per partition according to the number of Fluid Ounces your ‘mini you’ requires per feed. When you need the powder, all you do is twist the rotator, open the cap and pour. Here’s a good example in the picture below, it’s the one we use and is great for days out too. Click the link to shop the item:
Skin on skin time is important from both Mum and Dad. We found it very bonding and the warmth and sensation seem to keep them much more calm than without. If you’re calm, they’re calm and visa versa = more sleep for you!
Obviously a baby monitor is an essential tool for looking after little kids. I was insistent we bought a video monitor for our first born. It helps with that little bit extra bit of peace of mind and we found we were checking up on them less since we could already see them. More rest for us! Plus they have handy features like remote controllable night nights, talkback and subtle lullaby playback. I’ll be doing a review of our unit soon so stay tuned (we have two!).
Last tip – always have a muslin cloth and dummy within reach where you need them. They are lifesaving essentials!