A bedtime routine is inevitable, especially with toddlers and preteens. Irregular sleep pattern could alter their daily activities and ability to function.
Do you have a bedtime routine, and do you know how many hours of sleep is recommended for you and your children? If you have the answers to these questions and you have mastered the bedtime routine, then kudos to you. But if bedtime is inconsistent and almost a hassle and fight every single night then read on to learn a few important steps to get you started in the right direction. These tips work well for my family and I hope you find them helpful for yours.
- REVIEW SUGGESTED BEDTIME / HOURS
My first recommendation is to look up your child’s age and recommended sleeping periods. This will help you to figure out a bedtime based on what time you must get up in the mornings. This is also important to ensure your child is getting the necessary sleep that is suggested for healthy matters. A lack of sleep can cause all sorts of issues for everyone and you deserve a well-rested kid. Study’s say we listen better when we are rested. So, make sure your children have the full advantage to having a successful day at school.
- SET A NON-NEGOTIABLE BEDTIME
Visit the National Sleep Foundation for bedtime recommendations: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/excessivesleepiness/content/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need-0. When I say non-negotiable, I mean this is it! Engrave this bedtime on the rooftop for everyone to see. Plan your day, your errands, your family trips and even summer activities around it. Okay, maybe you can be lenient in the summer… but you will find it much more rewarding to have an expected level of privacy to get things done once the kids are in bed every night. It can free up more time to work things into your evening schedule without inconveniences. And work-from-home-moms (WFHM) and the mom-trepreneurs (Mom Entrepreneurs) really know what I am talking about.
- STAY CONSISTENT / “DROP EVERYTHING”
Once you have a bedtime in mind, and no matter how old your children are, the most important thing is to stay consistent. This is difficult thing for parents to do especially for older kids and teens who wish to stay up all night on the weekends and summer months – as well as toddlers who just don’t want to sleep. At first “dropping everything” to put the kids to sleep is hard. Leaving the dishes in the sink, the pots on the stove and the floor un-swept is impossible for some parents. But if bedtime is here and it’s time to put the baby to bed, this can cause bedtime to be pushed back by 30 – 60 minutes and in return cause the kids to either become restless and cranky or energetic – thanks to our friend cortisol.
- END THE NIGHT WITH A FUN ACTIVITY
To help you stay consistent you could create a routine for your kids. One to even suit your schedule and lifestyle. And not just any routine, but a fun one that the kids look forward to every night.
In my household for example, we get to end our night as a family by talking about how the day went. We use this as a period of reflection to learn about each other’s day. Even as a stay-at-home-mom, you’d be surprised to hear all about your child’s day from their perspective lenses. This family time is perfect for bonding. Reflecting on our day helps kids to open-up and express themselves. In return, this is making us as parent’s more accessible and the kids gradually look forward to our version of family time each evening. It builds trust and ensures effective communication.
In conclusion, ensure that you have a specific bedtime routine for your kids. It could vary per school nights, weekends, and holiday periods. Bedtime does not only involve sleeping. That bedtime story, the chats before bed, and even the comfort of the parent to the child contributes to your bedtime activity. Think of it this way, you all had a very long day, now it’s time to wind down and rest our mind and body. No matter how it’s done, do it peacefully and at ease. Not frantic with crying toddlers and shouting teenagers. And especially not with mom wanting a cup of coffee or a glass of wine to calm her nerves before bed.