Jack is in that transitional phase where he doesn’t always have a day time nap. He still needs one as it energises him for the afternoon and sees him happily through until bedtime. However, it also means that if he has a nap then he is often up far too late in the evening; sometimes 2 hours past his regular bedtime. I tried not letting him have a sleep during the day but when he came too me one afternoon and said, “Mummy, I’m really tired. I’m just going to have some quiet time now’, and then took himself off to bed, I realised that he knew his body’s rhythms better than I did. So now I give him the option of having a nap and most days he will.
This meant that we needed to change his bedtime routine. He was no longer tired at 7 o’clock and would spend the next two hours getting up out of bed. His new routine was actually my husband’s idea and it seems to suit Jack well.
After his bath, Jack still goes to his room at 7 o’clock. Although rather than a story and lights out his routine now goes like this:
7:30 – We go back to his room to read him a story. Jack’s light goes off and we turn his lamp on. Jack stays in bed reading stories. We leave his door open
8:00 – Jack’s lamp goes off. If he is still awake, he can use his torch to continue reading
Jack has a clock on his wall just inside his door. Underneath the clock I put a blackboard. I drew a clock face on the blackboard and use it (among other things) to show Jack what time we will be coming back for a story and lights out. Since we come back on the half hour and hour, it is easy for him to recognise, as the big hand is either pointing down or up.
This is how it would go ideally; and most evenings flow like this now. However when we first started, Jack was in the habit of getting up so we needed to teach him that, whilst he didn’t need to stay in his bed, he did need to stay in his room. This took a little while with lots of suggesting of things he could do in his room and then gently taking him back to his room when he came out.
This new routine seems to be working well for us. Jack has time to play quietly if he is not tired and we get to have some time to ourselves in the evenings.