Whether your children keep each other awake in their shared bedroom, or they're in separate bedrooms but are constantly getting out of bed to issue last-minute drink requests, getting siblings to sleep can feel like an exhausting game. Getting your kids to fall asleep -- and stay asleep -- certainly requires a bit more strategy, but it's nothing you can't manage with a firm voice and a consistent bedtime routine, assures ZerotoThree.org.
A Calming Routine
Even siblings spaced two or three years apart can benefit from a shared pre-bedtime ritual that starts 45 minutes before you want them actually in bed. This can include taking a warm bath, brushing teeth and using the bathroom, recommends the Children's Physician Network. Keep the activities segmented by having each child pick out his pajamas ahead of time and dressing in the bathroom after drying off. This will limit the amount of running between each other's bedrooms or beds, as often happens when kids change clothing.
Create a Sleep-Inducing Ambiance
Bright lights and pillow fights are only going to delay the onset of sleepiness in your kids. Instead, draw the shades, turn on the white noise machine and dim the lights before you begin story time. You can even dim the lights in the bathroom slightly while they're brushing their teeth and getting changed. You don't want them trying to dress in pitch black, but they also don't need ultra-bright overheads on just to brush their teeth.
Read Stories Together
It can be tempting to stick the older sibling in front of the television or electronic tablet while putting the younger one to sleep, but the bright colors and sounds of a show can actually stimulate your older child and make sleep more difficult, reports ZerotoThree.org. Instead, start by reading a story in the youngest child's bed or bedroom, saying goodnight to your littlest one and then reading another story to the older sibling in his bedroom. If your children share a room, consider moving the beds close enough together so each child can see the story as you read. It's okay if they listen to the story in the same bed, provided tantrums don't ensue when they have to separate.
Night time madness ensues when kids are hopping in and out of their beds and turning the lights on and off. Set strict rules prohibiting anyone from getting out of bed unless they need to use the bathroom. Give each child a drink of water before brushing teeth to limit the seemingly desperate pleas for water that occur 10 seconds after you turn off the lights. Keep the monitor on and explain that once the lights are off, there's no talking allowed.