While the journey there took many twists and turns, we finally have a pretty smooth bedtime sorted, one that is only generally interrupted by days where we are completely out of routine, such as having multiple visitors.
We had a brilliant little sleeper until around 4 months, and then the struggles began. My best bet was that he hit a developmental milestone that threw him out, and then it just got worse from there.
He began with waking just once or twice per night, sometimes quickly resettling, other times we could be up for hours.
At it's worst, the wake ups were happening up to 7-8 times per night and this Mum felt like an emotional zombie, I was a wreck.
We tried all of the recommended "sleep training" methods with little to no success, and we even paid good money for a so called "sleep expert" to hold his door shut and let him scream and melt down until he fell asleep (I don't endorse the cry it out method).
He just didn't want to stay asleep, and while he was at least easy enough to get to sleep initially, this soon changed as well, and I have memories of sitting next to his toddler bed with him literally running circles around me while I say crying from sheer exhaustion.
Something had to give!
By age 2, we finally started getting some answers and got an autism diagnosis. Just before his autism diagnosis, after our gp asked if anyone in our family was ADHD, that was the docs guess for a diagnosis after witnessing his inability to sit still - he would run and climb on everything and try and pull everything apart, even climbing on the bed to get to boxes of gloves and trying to get in to drawers and out the door, he was just constantly exploring and needing to move, I initially was torn between which way a diagnosis would go for him, however autism is the best fit in my opinion (with a good dose of ADHD tendancies). I didn't believe that I could have a diagnosis as well, however, after a dive down the rabbit hole, I found that I was ADHD and a diagnosis for me followed.
With a diagnosis in hand and ndis funding, I sought some autism specific parent training and learned more about how his brain functioned and with some amazing support and guidance we worked out how to help him settle and stay settled (mostly). He does still come in and sleep in our bed through the night. I am a firm believer in doing what works for you. I decided that getting up through the night was harder than having him come in and snuggle (although I'd love it more if he wasn't kicking us in his sleep). If you wanted your child to stay in their bed then you may need to be a little more patient at the resettling through the night and be prepared to still get up initially (but it's doable).
We start our bedtime routine around 4:30pm with a 7:30 bedtime goal. We use a range of natural supplements that support his nervous system to settle and we give him his special "lunchbox snacks" around 4:30, this is packed full of nutrients. He will sometimes still have dinner, although this can be a challenging meal to get him to eat, so the lunchbox snacks are helpful here. He has a bag of plain popcorn, sliced carrot and cucumber and some cheese (his evening moods have been much better since introducing this), he also has a good quality juice with some supplements in it.
At 6:30pm we give him more supplements and his milk drink to help him wind down further. We also have a good range of books (although we have a small handful of bedtime books to keep choice to a minimum - too many options when sleepy can be very overwhelming).
We also make sure that we do some active play during the day, outside wherever possible to help him burn his energy off during the day.
Some other elements that we use, include essential oils in a diffuser, a night light (dark can be best, however a nightlight can be handy if they are fearful of anything - keep nighttime anxiety at bay), a blade-less fan on low for air circulation, binaural beats, I put on a usb stick and play on a loop in his room, a soft cloud music toy that plays for approx 15 minutes while settling and for those who are a little more woo woo, I also smudge regularly with sage to clear any negative energy (our children are particularly sensitive to different energies - including ours, they tend to feel what we are feeling).
Supplements used (please do your own research and seek medical advice before using - this is my due diligence and legal obligation to advise)
Melatonin chewables from iHerb
Sweet dreams and Slow down drops from Naughty Nephropath Mum
Cool, Calm and Collected gummies (for 7+)
This is a list of supplements for sleep time, we use various other supplements during the day to help support his nervous system and for focus and general health and well-being.
As you can tell, this has been approached from various angles and part of what I have needed to do was to also look after myself and practice better self-care (something I support my personal and group program clients with as well as my connected parenting course).
For a one on one complimentary consultation (clarity call) please contact me and I will be happy to explore how I can best support you, either through my free trainings or my paid programs depending on your needs and budget.