This post is sponsored by Jasco, but all opinions are my own.
When my oldest child was a newborn, I remember thinking that nights with children could not possibly get harder. Then she grew into a toddler, and another newborn, her brother, came along. Between the two of them and their erratic nighttime/sleep habits, I was convinced I was in the thick of it in terms of nights being difficult with kids and restful nights would soon return. I was wrong.
Yes, those newborn nights were absolutely the most exhausting of my life, but even today, with a 3 and 5 year old, nights aren’t easy. The biggest struggle is that, like most young kids, they fight going to bed. They also never grew into being excellent sleepers (sorry for passing on my light sleeper DNA, kids!), and often awaken in the night. From there, the challenges are endless, my friends. From “bad” dreams (the latest of which involved my son not getting to eat doughnuts for dinner) to it being too dark for them to go to the bathroom themselves (even if they’re in bed with us, which is basically always), nights can be a little arduous.
My husband and I decided a few months ago that enough was enough, and we started experimenting with things to try to make nights easier for all of us. Thankfully, once we were really committed to figure this out, nighttime did improve. In fact, most nights are (knock on wood, really hard) kind of a breeze these days. I hope these tips prove useful for those of you with young kids who also struggle with nights. (And I also get to talk about one of our favorite ways to make nights easier, our beloved GE Enbrighten Motion Activated Night Lights!)
1. Start bedtime early.
Honestly, it took us years (truly) to finally adhere to this, but once we did, things became easier for all of us. We’ve found that for whatever reason, when bed time is rushed, it takes the kids longer to fall asleep. If we start an hour beforehand to allow plenty of time for getting bathed, getting into pajamas, brushing teeth, and reading books, they fall asleep more quickly, and stay asleep better.
2. Be consistent with bed times.
My husband and I are naturally both night owls. For a long time, we would make sure the kids went to bed early during the week, but let them stay up quite late (and sleep in) on the weekends. Eventually we realized this was backfiring, especially once my daughter started kindergarten. She was cranky on Monday mornings (I mean, we all are, but this was excessive), and she didn’t sleep well the first couple nights of the week. Now we don’t let them stay up more than an hour past their weeknight bedtime on the weekends, and everyone sleeps (and wakes up) better.
3. Let there be (motion activated) light.
This is a big one, guys. I’ve always loved Ella Baker’s quote “Give light and people will find the way.” It is so powerful and full of profound meaning, but let me tell you, it can also be applied to getting through nights with young children. THE DARK (has to be in caps because that’s the only way kids know how to talk about it) is probably our biggest obstacle when it comes to nighttime with little ones. They’re scared of it. They can’t see to get a drink. They can’t see to go pee. I can’t see to get to them when they call me. I can’t see when I hear a crashing sound downstairs loud enough to wake up the entire house and my husband is gone for work and I fall down the stairs and break my toe. (Yes this really happened.) When we leave on a light all night, however, it’s not dark enough and people can’t sleep.
Enter our newfound night light solution: GE Enbrighten Motion Activated Night Lights. Someone recommended these to us and we are forever indebted; not just because they’re pretty and add a little fancy to our normally very plain aesthetic (thank you GE), but because they provide the perfect amount of light at the perfect times so that we’re all able to get the best sleeps.
The GE Enbrighten Candle Glow SleepLite is my personal favorite, with its warm amber glow (almost no blue light emission = a healthy sleep cycle) that calmly flickers just like candlelight. I love that I can control the light output via 3 different setting options – soft white, amber, or candle glow. It also has a very cool light-sensing technology that turns the night light on at dusk and off at dawn.
I keep these in our bedrooms. They’re perfect for getting up to go to the bathroom or when my kids are irrationally screaming down the hall.
We also love the GE Enbrighten Motion-Activated Night Light, which we use in our hallways and bathrooms. First and foremost, this is probably the most attractive night light I’ve ever seen. No, really. It’s simple and chic and comes in 4 finish options. (We have the bronze finish). Secondly, it has an automatic LED that light turns on when motion is detected up to 25 feet away, and turns off after 90 seconds of no activity, and a dusk-to-dawn light sensor with an energy-efficient light that turns on at dusk and off at dawn. So smart!
The GE Enbrighten Motion-Select Night Light (which also has 4 stylish, modern finish options) has also been a major help, with its awesome ability to either be set at Motion-Activated or Motion-Boost. The Motion-Activated Light setting activates the light up to 25 feet away in low light, and the light turns off after 90 seconds without motion. The Motion-Boost Light setting allows the light to automatically turn on at dusk at a low 3 lumens, then boosts it to 40 lumens when motion is detected, and dims back to 3 lumens after 90 seconds of no motion. (So cool, right?) Perfect for our entry way and kitchen.
4. Keep the screens away.
Okay, so I’m a hypocrite (I read or watch Netflix on my iPad every night before bed), but making sure our kids didn’t have access to screens at least an hour before bed has made a huge difference in how well they sleep. (And this isn’t just my opinion; research shows it to be true.) Our only television in the house in downstairs, and screens aren’t within reach during night hours. (I do this for myself as well, because I used to grab my phone when I couldn’t sleep, which ultimately made things worse.) My daughter tends to wake up often from vivid dreams, and she often asks if she can watch something to distract her from feeling scared. I used to give in, but now tell her a story instead, and she falls backs asleep faster (and stays asleep longer). The only light is in room is from her GE Enbrighten Candle Glow SleepLite; never the disruptive light of a screen.
5. Use the bathroom right before bed.
This applies for your children and you. Maybe this is a given, but if you don’t do it, please take my advice. If I have to get up to pee at 3 AM, it’s going to take me a good half hour to fall back asleep. And no one likes to have to change a child wet sheets in the night. The right-before-bed potty trip is always a good idea. Make sure to keep a GE Enbrighten Motion Activated Night Lights in the bathroom too so that if your little ones do have to go, they’re not being jolted into a fully awake state by a bright light.
6. Do what works for you.
There is so much advice out there for the “right” ways for your child to be sleeping (let babies cry it out, never let babies cry, cosleep with babies but not kids, cosleep as long as you want, make them sleep alone from the beginning, use a bassinet, use a crib, use a floor mattress, use a toddler bed, don’t use a bed at all, let them come into your bed, make them stay in their rooms, etc. etc. etc.). And honestly, I disagree with all of it, because there is simply no right or wrong way. Period. I am not a sleep expert, but I have found that being openminded and paying attention to what works best for my kids and for us as a family is what makes nights the easiest for all of us. So while these tips have been extremely helpful for us, and my hope is that one or all of them helps you as well, you do you, guys. Feel out your family, take notice of what nighttime habits produce the best results, and go from there. You’re doing a great job.
Do you have any tips I missed that you can share? Have you tried any of the GE Enbrighten Motion Activated Night Lights yet? I’d love to hear which one is your favorite.