Having a night out is so helpful for our sanity. Whether it's a night out solo, with your spouse, with your friends, whatever it might be, just being able to step away from normal life within your home is very helpful for that time to recalibrate and take that pressure off of trying to get all the pieces moving within the home. This episode [post] is all about how you can prepare your children for your night out and also how to prepare your sitter for while you're gone.
I want to preface this by saying that you do not have to have an independent sleeper to go out. I know it might feel like that because you have to jump through all these hoops to be able to get your children to sleep, you're the only one that can get them to sleep.
Take that pressure off.
It is not true.
You do not have to be the only one to get your child to sleep and you deserve some time away. We all need that time away and it's not even a “deserve” thing. It's a survival thing. We all need, we literally need, that space sometimes. So, take that weight off of yourself and know that having a night out is good for you and your child. Granted, if you would like to have an independent sleeper, I am here for you. But I want to say that these tips are helpful no matter how your child sleeps, how well they sleep, or poorly they sleep.
Let's get into it.
First prep your children. Keep it to the facts.
Obviously, if you have a baby baby, you can prep them, you can let them know what you'll be doing, but they’ll likely not know what you’re doing.
This tip is very helpful for toddlers and for preschoolers and above. Keeping it to the facts is just going to help them kind of process on their own what's going to be happening. We don’t want to be putting in their head, “You're gonna have a great time with grandma.”
Well, maybe they won't.
They could be like my son and just be really sad and cry. And that's sad, but okay.
Here are some things that you can do to help if your child is hesitant about you leaving.
An idea is to have a special “just for the sitter” activity or a meal they can look forward to.
Assure them that you'll be there in the morning to get them out of bed as usual.
Depending on how comfortable you are with this, you can let them know that when you get home you will go into their room, give them a kiss, say goodnight, and let them know that you're home. If you're not confident that your child will go back to sleep after that, I don't recommend that part. But if you are confident that they will, do that.
Another option is to leave something special for them to keep close to remind them of you. Maybe it's a craft that you guys made together the day of and he can keep the one that you made by his bed.
Next, let's prep your sitter.
Ask the sitter to come early enough so that you can walk through the routine with them, show them where all the things are along the way inform the sitter of the schedule routines and expectations.
In the babysitter checklist, all these things are written out for you to fill in. So, you can hold that checklist in your hand, go through the steps, walk through the house, show them where all the things are, but also know at the same time, things may end up differently than how you do it.
And that is totally okay.
The checklist, these ideas or run-throughs that you're going to do with them is really just to help prepare them, but they are not you. So your children may respond very differently with them than they would with you. So they might need to do some different things to help your child feel comfortable and get some sleep and that's all right.
Just coach them on what you would recommend them to do if your child has a hard time getting to sleep, wakes up crying, or comes out of their room. Obviously, what you recommend will depend on how you handle these situations in your home.
Our sitters are typically the grandparents. We are grateful that we get to live so close to both sets of grandparents, so they are typically the sitters that we have.
When they watch the boys, w let them know that if Copeland, our oldest who is almost five, if he has a hard time getting to sleep, it's okay if they stay in there with him. We're okay with that. We know that this one night isn't going to completely derail him for the nights to come. So it's alright to kind of bend those boundaries a little bit.
It’s similar with Ford as well. Ford typically, being just now two, falls asleep pretty quickly on his own but if he wakes up crying we let them know what we would recommend doing or how to handle that.
If you have a child that comes out of the room, again, what what are you okay with and what is your sitter comfortable with. How they handle things in this time might be different than how you would and that's okay.
One night isn't going to derail all the things that you've worked so hard for.
And I know if you have a grandparent as a sitter, there is a good chance that they would much rather rock your baby to sleep than lay them down awake. Especially if there's a chance that your little one will cry a little bit.
So, take a deep breath and know that that is also okay.
With all that said, you may or may not experience feelings of guilt about getting a sitter and having time away. Especially if your kids are not happy about it. You might have a little bit more of a twinge of guilt. But keep in mind that this timeout is not only beneficial for you but it is healthy for our children to spend time with other safe adults. We need that time to be refreshed. It helps us to be better parents and it helps teach our children some resiliency.
The goal is to help our children to feel comfortable and safe with the sitter by still having those routines and the same jammies they wear every night, the same bubble bath, or whatever it is that your children are used to having each night.
We want to be able to replicate that even with a sitter, but it's also okay if it's not going to go the same way.
So, as an example, I'll walk through briefly what we do on a normal night and then what typically happens on a night that grandparents watch our children.
On a normal night at home when it's Kyle and me there,
we do dinner, and directly after dinner,
we do bath time. The boys oftentimes will take a bath together and then
we tag team it - one grabs the older one, one grabs the younger one, we get their brushed, jammies on, then
we go into our oldest’s room and we read a book together, all four of us. Then after that book is read,
Kyle takes our youngest out and I spend some one-on-one time with Copeland, our oldest. After he and I either read another short book or just talk for a few minutes together,
I go out and I grab Ford, our youngest, and Kyle goes in with our oldest and he spends some one-on-one time with him.
Then I go and nurse Ford and get him into bed.
So that's what it looks like on a normal night while we're all home.
On a night that Kyle and I go out and there is a sitter there, what typically happens is
they come a little bit before dinnertime so they have time to play with the boys and then we'll have some sort of quick, easy meal there for them.
They eat together and
then odds are they play some more.
They might get a bath, they might not.
They read some books together and they get Copeland into bed and
then they read some more books with Ford, get his jammies on diaper change, all of that.
And then lay him down and put him to bed.
And for some reason, the grandmas have a hard time with the Hatch.
Last week, Kyle and I went out and when we came home Ford was asleep, but his birds were on instead of the sound machine. Poor kid fell asleep with birds on.
And in case you're wondering why we even have birds chirping on his Hatch, it's because that's what we use when it's time for us to get him out of bed. It's a green light and birds chirping so he knows that we're getting ready to come in and get him up.
So surely he was very confused that the green light and the chirping birds are on when he was supposed to be going to sleep.
That to say, they were both asleep when we got home, but the bedtime routine was 0% like it is when Kyle and I are home. But they both have the same end result - they were able to get to sleep.
Copeland, actually, last time we went out was really sad that we left (he's so sweet and sentimental), they said that he actually put himself to bed at like 6:30 because he was so sad. But we went in and said good night to him and it helped him feel better and he was able to get back to sleep. And we all had a good night's sleep. Ford cried a little getting to sleep, probably because the birds were on, but he slept all night, and the next night we acted like there was no hiccup the night before.
You can lay out all the things and hope for the best and then nothing goes the way that it typically does and your children will be fine.
You go out and you enjoy your time away so you can be the best parent and still be you.
If you found this episode [blog] helpful, I would absolutely love it if you would hit subscribe, follow, rate the podcast, review it, share it with a friend - however to get the word out to be able to help more families get the sleep that they need and more moms to feel sane, seen, and heard and just to get the practical advice and guidance to get the sleep that they need and deserve. No matter the steps you take next, I am so grateful that you're here and I appreciate you listening in [reading]. Until next time…