Just about every parent knows and can understand the struggles that go along with bedtime. Kids hate to go to bed, and parents hate trying to get them there. Unfortunately sleep is a much needed thing and establishing routines to make bedtime easier can really change the way bedtime goes down. Here are some ideas on how to establish a nightly routine for your children in order to get them into bed and sleeping.
Aim for the same time every night
While hectic schedules and crazy days might make this impossible to do every night, you can at least make it a goal. Set a specific time for each of your children to go to bed. Younger ones may be in bed earlier, while older ones get a slightly later bedtime. Whatever you decide you just need to be consistent with it. Give yourself a little leeway of about 15 minutes or so, but generally getting your kids to bed at the same time every night will get them on a consistent schedule and make your days easier too.
Calming everyone down
Some children will naturally calm themselves down as bedtime approaches, but most will not. It’s up to you to help them with it. Most children in fact will wind themselves up trying to convince themselves that they’re not tired. Don’t buy into the crazy act. Take some time (preferably the around the same time) every night to help your children calm themselves down. Read a book, listen to quiet music, or just have some quiet family time. This gives them the clue that it’s almost time to get ready for bed and their body begins to calm itself down. This is an important part of routine if you want to make bedtime successful.
Before bed routines
While all things on this list will be considered part of your “routine” there are certain things that almost every child has to do before they climb into bed. Every family is different so your “before bed” routine might be different than someone else’s, but it is no less important. Things included in the “before bed” routine are brushing teeth, using the bathroom, washing their face, and/ or reading a story. These are things that children get use to and will begin to do on their own if you show them how. Each piece of this “before bed” routine will act as a cue for them and let them know that they will soon be getting into bed to go to sleep.
Snacks and Drinks
If you provide a bedtime snack before your child gets into bed they won’t be able to come out and tell you that they’re hungry, or that they need a drink, or any of the other million excuses they use to get out of bed. Try and give them a light snack and drink before they get into bed. That way you’re not second guessing yourself when they do come out and say they’re hungry. You know they’ve been fed and won’t feel guilty about not giving them any food or something to drink.
Be consistent and flexible
In establishing routines to make bedtime easier the most important thing is to be consistent and somewhat flexible. This holds especially true for young children. If you have gotten into the habit of reading books before bed then continue to do so. With that in mind however, there will be times where you might need to be a little more flexible with your schedule. Sometimes kids get sick and need more rest, sometimes they need less. Consistent and flexible seem to juxtapose one another, but as long as you explain to your children your decisions and talk with them they will mostly be understanding.
Hopefully these routines to make bedtime easier will help you and your child get into a consistent routine and provide less stress when it comes time for bed.