We tuck them back in and say goodnight, only for a few moments to pass before they reappear asking for a drink.
Repeat this nightly for several years.
For most families, bedtimes can be a struggle, and these constant nightly demands from our children are annoying and frustrating.
But parents, fear not. We have some simple steps that can help transform your stressful bedtime routine into a calm, positive and enriching one.
What is a bedtime routine?
A bedtime routine helps your children develop good sleeping habits. It follows a predictable pattern of activities that you do each night. These activities may include quiet reading or drawing, listening to calming music or a story, as well as kisses and cuddles before you say goodnight.
The routine for child with a 7.30pm bedtime may look like this:
6.45pm: Put PJs on, go to the toilet and brush teeth.
7pm: Quiet time in bedroom reading stories, listening to soothing music, having a quiet chat about the day, and of course some cuddles.
7.30pm: Goodnight and lights out.
How do we establish a peaceful bedtime routine?
Firstly, we need to take a moment to check in with ourselves.
Ask yourself, how am I feeling? Am I rushing myself and my kids to get it all done and have some time to myself? Am I feeling calm?
The way we feel comes out in our behaviour, and our kids are quick to pick up on this.
If you feel stressed or inclined to rush through the bedtime routine, take a few minutes to reset and find a calmer mindset. You can do this by closing your eyes and taking some deep breaths, or by writing down what you are feeling in that moment.
Once we have a calm mindset, we will be ready and confident to get our kids ready for bed – instead of feeling the usual dread and frustration.
Follow these tips to create a soothing space that promotes rest for ourselves and our children.
- Avoid screen time 90 minutes before bed.
- Dim the lights.
- Play some soothing music when it’s time for reading and cuddles.
Why are bedtime routines so important?
Bedtime routines are important, because they create a predictable, calming atmosphere that reminds our body that we are getting ready to sleep.
When our children get a good quality night’s sleep, they:
- Wake up feeling well-rested and ready for a day of learning and playing.
- Are better able to manage their emotions and handle challenges throughout the day.
- Have a stronger immune system.
How to maintain a bedtime routine that works for you and your child/ren.
Each family’s needs are different, so your routine may not be the same as your neighbour or family friend. You can include your children in creating a routine that works for your family. By doing this, you will give your kids a sense of ownership over their actions each night.
Your kids may want to write a checklist of the things they need to do each night to feel ready for bed. Older children may find it beneficial to have a journal to write their thoughts in as they settle for bed – this can help calm their active minds.
Remember, no one is perfect, and some nights will be harder than others. If you are having a particularly hard time settling into a normal bedtime routine, speak to your school nurse, a counsellor, or other parents for advice.