One of the questions I get asked the most is how do I manage with my two boys so close together in age. I am definitely no expert in this field, a lot of my friends had two children right after each other, with some age gaps even being exactly a year! One of the things that really works for us though is a proper bedtime routine.
When my eldest was born I followed Meg Faure’s “Sleep sense” pretty much to a the letter, and while we have eased up a little in terms of structure, all the basic principles of bath and bed time still follow. For us the ideal routine begins with dinner, then bath, massage and Bedtime.
My kids adore their bath time, so much so that my youngest, every day at 4h30 pm takes me by the hand and says “bath time mama, come”.
We start this routine fairly early on so that they get time to play in the bath and have fun. I absolutely believe that bath time should be relaxing, but enjoyable, perhaps because when I was growing up, I was that child who would run away from bath time every day. Literally, I would hide in the cupboard and would be dragged into the bath kicking and screaming. I cannot emphasise how bath time is literally my salvation. It comes at the perfect time each day, and breaks the afternoon meltdown period into something pleasant and fun.
I usually bathe the kids together, and try to encourage fun to create the excitement and interaction and we have a number of activities that we like to do in the bath. Activities like “bath paint”, glow sticks and bath bombs are our favourite. You can read more about that on the blog.
My boys have sensitive skin and many products I’ve used in the past have caused them to break into a rash. That is why I love JOHNSON’S® Baby Products. They follow the highest quality standards have no parabens, no phthalates, and are hypoallergenic. They are safe enough to use on newborns but fun enough that you’ll use them well past the baby and toddler phase. Bubbles are always a winner, so I swirl a little of JOHNSON’S® top-to-toe® Baby Wash or the JOHNSON’S® Baby Bedtime Bath directly into warm water to create a few bubbles. When it comes to Shampoo I have always used the classic JOHNSON’S® Baby Shampoo. I trust this product so much, that I personally use it from time to time, to this day. I just love how soft their skin and hair feels after bath time.
With the dry Johannesburg air and the fact that both my boys are prone to eczema, moisturiser is an essential. Babies lose moisture 5x faster than adults and their skin is 30% thinner. I use a combination of coconut oil (especially in winter) and JOHNSON’S® Baby Moisturising Lotion.
I still to this day, at ages 2 and 3, I massage them after their bath. Not only does this set the tone for a relaxing bedtime cue, I think it’s extremely important to help you check in with your child’s body. Through this 5 minute massage you can pick up any bruises and bumps that may have occurred through play in the day. I use a drop of coconut oil directly on their face.
JOHNSON’S® Baby is one of the favourite brands that I trust and love, all the products are so mild, gentle and allergy tested. They are all also paraben free which is a huge help if you suffer from skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis.
After getting dressed and a couple of minutes of jumping on the bed (don’t judge, i gave up this fight a long time ago), it’s into bed and it’s story time. They still drink some warm milk before they sleep. It helps that my boys share a room, and this is their down time, they know that after this, its lights out. I am one of “those mums” who lies with my boys until they sleep. They love to cuddle and I love our time together. These years are flying by and soon they won’t want mama anymore, so while I have it i’ll cherish it.
Tips to make your bedtime routine smoother:
Stick to the same timing every day. (Routine, routine, routine)
Create a winding down time – I got the idea from the kids playschool, after dinner they have to sit with their daddy and “read” a story. They choose a picture book and read it to him. This allows their food to settle and also calms them down.
Make bath time part of that routine – its sets the tone for a relaxing environment
Massage is your friend – it’s a wonderful way to ensure your child feels safe and secured and allows you to keep in check with their bodies as well.
Create a calming sleep environment – Once the boys are in their “sleep zone” (Thanks Meg Faure), I try to keep them in there if I can. Dim the lights and make sure the room is a comfortable temperature.
While our routines may differ, whatever your method may be, having that consistency is key when it comes to bed time. We have had this same routine from when my eldest was a baby and they know exactly what bed time involves. Are there exceptions? Of course! Some nights we are out, or they develop that monstrous second wind and climb up the walls at bed time, but for the most part, this works like a charm !