Looking for thoughts and ideas of how to help my 7 yr old DS get settled at bedtime. He's a high energy kid as a general rule, though not to the extent that he would qualify for any formal diagnosis or it is really a "problem", except at bedtime. He winds up while we're trying to get everyone settled down. Sometimes we can get him to lie down and read in his bed but he does not fall asleep for hours. After I get the other kids settled in their beds I will go into his room and lie down with him with the lights out but unless I stay there until he fully falls asleep he can't finish the job himself. Often it is 10:30 or later and he is still awake. Most nights he's awake until I decide the only answer is going to sleep myself and he climbs in bed with me and I guess falls asleep (I'm usually out first). DH moves him to his bed when DH comes to bed but he's usually back to our bed within a few hours. Beyond that fact that he's a grouch in the mornings because he hasn't gotten enough sleep, there is the fact that I have things I need to be doing in the evenings (like spending time with DH, or finishing housework or work work, or just re-centering). If I have to lie down for an hour in the dark I can guarentee I'm done for the night, and I don't want to be.
So, thoughts for how to help him settle? I was thinking maybe a kid friendly relaxing yoga video (taking suggestions on which video) as part of bedtime routine. DH is thinking add Melatonin to the routine consistently for a week or 2 to try to train his brain to an earlier time. Any thoughts on those or other ideas?
When is he going to bed and waking up? Audio books are our lifesaver. DS will listen to them for a long time, and has learned (after FIVE years of listening to them every single night) when he needs what he calls "a boring story." (Which is a story he's heard so many times that it's not really interesting anymore, as opposed to, say Harry Potter.)
Our library has a great selection. I might also look into kids relaxation/meditation CDs.
Momma to 8 y.o. DS and 5 y.o. DD. Married to a Maker!
We've had good success with audio books after lights are out. My boys actually listen to old favorites so the action isn't keeping them awake.
For young kids www.StoryNory.com is a good free resource for stories. We also used Jim Weiss' bedtime meditation CD and Bill Harley's short stories, and his bedtime CD "Town Around the Bend." "The Wind Boy" from ChinaBerry and "Tales of My Father's Dragon" are might be good choices for a 7 year old (they aren't too rousing.) Also Beverly Cleary, we had Henry Huggins and The Mouse and the Motorcycle on CD from the library. I also scored a great set of guided meditation tapes aimed at kids from a library sale. These all were good for winding down.
Also consider lower lighting during the bed time routine, and cut all evening screen time, if that's an issue. Studies show that artificial light after dusk suppresses melatonin.
If you do try to toggle to an earlier bedtime, try inching it back in 10 or 15 minute increments.
We also used essential oils of lavender and jasmine. Oh, and chamomile tea.
Great ideas! Thanks to you both. I hadn't thought of books on tape. I'll have to try that. We had another really grouchy morning today after trying for an hour to get him to sleep last night so I'm highly motivated!
Is it possible that some of this is caused by a desire to have more attention? Even now that my DD is older she still comes into my bed on the rare night when I am not home until bedtime. I am sure you work to give him one on one but his need for it may be higher and that could be what is causing him to go into your bed just a few hours after you finally get him down. If you can find a way to meet that need earlier in the day while also doing a bedtime routine he may be easier to get to sleep.
I think you might find it helpful to decide on a routine and rules you can stick to for a few weeks no matter how much he tests you, talk about them with him, then follow through. It sounds like you are conflicted now and try not to go lay with him but usually do anyways. Just starting out that way or not doing it at all and letting him have a few restless nights without making it your problem too may help him start settling in to get the sleep his body needs faster each night. Bumping bedtime back may also help because if he is overtired it may be harder for him to sleep. I think you should really try to be realistic and not go for anything you won't implement if you are tired and don't see it working quickly. I was often tempted to go too extreme in my solutions when exhaustion was an issue and it really did nothing except hurt dd's feelings for the few days it took me to sleep enough to come to my senses.