I remember the evening routine when Baby Blue actually was just that... a baby. Those times with my little angel so sweet and soft in my arms, falling blissfully asleep. Now it seems to be just the opposite, I go into the saga expecting my little angel to yawn peacefully and slowly drift off to sleep, but usually end up responding to requests of a different blanket, hug and kiss Dolce (her new kitten), more books. Or what seems to be Baby Blue's already creative stalling "I love you, Mommy," "Mommy, kiss!" (Although, those do get me and they are pretty sweet.)
I have begun learning though... yes, I'm a reader. A great place I found some of the following information is from Parenting Magazine. And they say that bedtime really begins quite a few hours earlier than you think. Kids are like wind-up toys. They need to expend a certain amount of energy before they can really slow down. So if it's been a particularly relaxing day, or if they've had a late or too-long nap, well, you'd better get rollin' to get that energy expelled and get that precious little toy of yours all wound-down. Try to get their bodies moving and their minds engaged and they'll be less likely to keep going and going at bedtime.
Of course some of the simplest tricks can sometimes be hard to do, but make your bedtime routine warm and calming (think warm bath, back rubs, book reading, rather than evening gymnastics... yes, even during the Olympics, bedtime is NOT the time to copy the Olympics, although some fun, family games could come out of it... I digress).
Definitely do a sanity check: is it complicated? If you've got a routine that could fill a scrap book, start scrapping some of those routines. Keep your eye on the prize: sleep! Get rid of the routines that call for you getting more water, extra books, saying goodnight to ALL of the stuffed animals and toys, etc. Begin to cut back, keep it simple. It'll be easier for everyone involved.
A good 'rule of thumb' that I've found is to get some good 'bedtime' books. You know, the ones that end with the character in bed and asleep. These books are more calming and you don't have to get all these exciting loud voices while reading, you can use that soft, sleepy voice to relax the mood. Also, pick books whose number of sentences per page match your child's age, one for a 1-year-old, two for a 2-year-old, etc.
Evening is a good time to watch the clock. Bath time by 7:15 so we can be in pj's cuddling by 7:45 and in bed by 8. Try and resist whatever wants to get you off course at this time... it's precious time with your little monkey! This way, by 8:05 you can know that, even though you didn't get the laundry done and went off your diet a little, you've met one goal: sleep!
Oh and rarely does it happen, but on the occasion that your little monkey wakes up at night, you'll have the energy to attend to them. Like Baby Blue did tonight... a couple hours after she went to sleep, she woke up crying, when I went in there she just said, "Mommy, hold you two minutes." How sweet is that! I couldn't resist, and did just that, I held her for about 2-3 minutes and then tucked her right back into bed. Thank goodness said the mama, now I can go to bed!