bedtime routines for the unfailingly energetic
We have a typical bedtime routine: after dinner, I let the boys play together for a while (winter: inside; summer: outside) and then, after a few regular warnings, I issue snacks, order potty trips, and start in on the books. Truman and Monroe get four books, together; if Everett's still awake by that time, he gets his own book. An hour from start to finish.
That's with melatonin, a gentle sleep aid recommended by my pediatrician. Without the melatonin, which Everett sometimes resists (he's worried it makes nighttime accidents more likely) and Monroe sometimes is unaffected by, it's a couple of hours with Everett (seven and a half) and Monroe (two and a half) literally bouncing off the walls, floors, bunkbed, tackling each other, playing cannonball with the stuffed animals, jumping rope, hanging upside down from the top bunk, throwing paper airplanes at me and giving me "two for flinching!" Meanwhile, Truman (four and a half) variously cries, giggles, joins in, or falls asleep in understandable self-defense. Splitting them up for bedtime doesn't work; all the rooms available for sleeping are too close together and none of them have properly securable doors.
Ideally, I won't have to give Everett and Monroe melatonin until they're 18 and bedtimes are no longer my responsibility; I'll somehow teach them to develop calming methods of their own. All my considerable efforts to do so thus far have been in vain, and I've tried yoga, early evening exercise, baths (much objection, anyway, to frequent bathing), bedtime milk, completely foregoing sugar, sleepy time tea (which helped, once, at 11 p.m.), breathing exercises, poetry, prayer. Once they're wound up, my efforts often end up being completely ignored, anyway, CANNONBALL!
Ideas? Has anyone developed a surefire way to calm a couple of children who, by every indication, are developmentally delayed in self-calming? I'd love to hear any thoughts.