Many parents dread the time of day when it’s time to wrestle the kids to bed. When children resist going to sleep, the house is filled with whining and screams of “no” and “I don’t want to” where every step of brushing their teeth, putting on their pyjamas and finally getting them into bed is a battle. It’s no surprise that parents fall onto the couch after the war exhausted thinking of where the evening has gone. But it doesn’t have to be like this.
Whether you may believe it or not, a relaxing and peaceful bedroom routine is possible and anyone can achieve it. You may already be achieving it and for that, we can only say “well done!” but for those of you who are not, this article is for you.
Healthy sleep habits are such an important and vital part of healthy development for children, so here is our advice on how to develop a peaceful bedtime routine in your home.
What do you consider to be a perfect bedtime routine?
Before you can create a bedtime routine that will suit you and your family, you first need to think about what a perfect routine would be for you. Consider:
- What time do you want your children in bed?
- What activities do you want them to do before bed (e.g. put away toys, brush teeth, wash face, shower or get their backpack ready for tomorrow)?
- What common excuses does your child use for not going to bed and how can you eliminate them/incorporate them into your routine (drink of water, use the toilet etc)?
- What activities can you add to your routine so that you both enjoy it (read a book together, sing a bedtime song, snuggle, talk about the good things that happened today etc)?
Once you know what your ideal evening would look like, only then can you start working towards making that your reality.
3 things that you can do to end the day more peacefully
Create a ritual and connect before lights out
When both you and your children have had a long and sometimes stressful day, it is beneficial for everyone knowing that the evening will end peacefully. To ensure this, create a ritual that will create a calm and soothing atmosphere before bed. You can decide what you would like to do and then discuss this with your children to see what would make their perfect bedtime routine too. When children feel involved they are more likely to want to follow this routine.
Make sure that your routine involves a lot of one-on-one interaction as children just want your attention. Often, children only play up to get your attention, so spending some time in the evening reading together or singing bedtime songs can really make a difference to how your child behaves. Even if you have many household duties or are stressed from your work day, it’s essential that you put that aside and schedule some time to be with your children. You’ll soon find that you feel less stressed for it as you say goodnight and close that door knowing that you’ve spent quality time together.
Set a time and stick to it
So you know when you want your children to be in bed, now you need to start working your routine backwards to figure out what time you need to start preparing for bed. Contrary to what many parents do, a routine shouldn’t be started 10 to 15 minutes before lights out. Children need plenty of time to wind down and relax before they transition into bed.
Having a set time each day where the bedtime routine starts is great because not only does this mean less stress for you, but it also allows your children to know when they need to start getting ready so that they can finish their games or stories before settling down. This allows them to be in a much better mindset to sleep well. Once you have your times, stick to them as much as possible. It’s okay to be flexible when times call for it but you need to set your limits such as the number of stories you’ll read to make sure that the routine is as consistent as possible.
Limit screen time, especially after dinner
There is nothing more stressful for you than nagging your children to do something and 20 minutes later, they are still staring at the screen of the TV or the iPad. We’ve all been there and it is incredibly frustrating, but what’s more is that it is actually very harmful to our children. Bright screens can ruin a bedtime routine as they stimulate the brain and negatively affect our sleep patterns, so you need to be thinking about how you can limit this before bed.
Limiting screen-time at least 30 minutes prior to bed is enough time for your child to focus on relaxing and getting into the right frame of mind for a good sleep state. With a peaceful bedtime routine that starts well before bed, however, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem if your child knows that there are no screens once the routine starts.
So there you go, bedtime no longer has to be a huge hassle if you just take control and take some time to implement these new and healthy changes. Don’t be disheartened if it doesn’t take straight away, however, as there are no instant fixes to a problem. Be patient and take the time to develop this routine and you’ll soon find that your evenings are so peaceful that you won’t know what to do with yourselves!
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