My children are very good sleepers. I might just be lucky, it might just be genes, but just in case its something we've done I thought I'd let you into our sleep story.
My daughter spent the daylight hours of her first 12 weeks awake. It was exhausting. She wouldn't even sleep in her pram when we were out walking. Only when my son was born did I find out how much a newborn was supposed to sleep. So when it came to developing a routine of daytime naps I had to get tough quickly. We had a Tiny Love Symphony in motion cot mobile, which was one of my best parenting purchases. As it plays for 15 minutes I decided that I would put my daughter in the crib at the time I wanted her to have a nap and play the mobile. I didn't go in to her whilst it was playing. If she was still crying by the time the music stopped I picked her up and we went out for a walk. It only took a week before she was having 2 naps a day.
I breastfed her until she was 10 months, so for her nightime routine she was bathed, dressed, read to and put in her sleeping bag before we would turn down the lights, turn on a classical lullaby CD and I would feed her to a drowsy state. For her night-time feeds she could just be fed to sleep, I never burped her or took her out of her sleeping bag, so she wasn't disturbed.
At 22 months we moved her into a bed (ready for the cot to be used by her soon-to-be baby brother). At this point we bought a Gro Clock so she could see what time she could get out of bed. We had a week of her getting out of bed in the night, (one night she came into us 18 times between 1 and 3pm) but we returned her to bed without speaking and left her to settle herself (just as the parenting books tell you) and, after one exhausting week, it worked.
When she had outgrown her mobile (when she could sit up) we bought a musical projector, by the time she had moved into a bed she was able to turn it on herself, so we could hear her waking, putting her 'bear music' on and settling herself without us having to get up.
Her brother followed a very similar pattern (apart from the fact we didn't have a hard time getting him to nap as a newborn). When we put him in a bed it never occured to him to get out of bed in the evening, maybe because his sister was in the room and staying put. I had been nervous about putting them together (which we did when my son was 5 months) but they've never disturbed each other.
My daughter (now 4 1/2) will volunteer to go to bed (my son takes a little more persuasion, but he doesn't procrastinate for longer than a minute). We tuck them in, say night-night, put on 'bear music' and go and enjoy our evening. They go to bed at about 7 or just before. If they are really tired then I have been known to put them to bed as early as 6! They wake about 7 but don't come into our room until the sun comes up on their clock at 7.15.
In summary our sleep strategy (if you could call it that) has been to let them get on with it themselves. I've never settled them, got into bed with them (unless they were ill) or stayed in their room until they fell asleep. I am making no claims that this will work for anyone else, but it works for us.