Bedtime. Sometimes as parents, we count the hours down until bedtime so we can relax and have some time for ourselves. On bad days, bedtime couldn’t come sooner but what if bedtime was a battle of wills where everyone ends up in tears? It doesn’t do you or the children any good so here are some tips to hopefully help you have a calm and tear-free end to the day.
Set times for each of your children to go to bed, depending on their age. The important thing is to be consistent and keep to this no matter what. If you read a bedtime book to your children or if they read, you will need to factor in a ‘lights out’ time too.
Work out the ideal lights out time and then work back from there to allow enough time for stories, bath and winding down. Keeping the routine consistent will manage everyone’s expectations on what’s expected.
Let them know
Discuss the new arrangements with your children in advance and explain the reasons behind this. Let them know that in order to function and learn at optimum levels, they need to get enough sleep.
During the evening, remind your children of their bedtime routine. For example, suggest they play with their toys after tea before quiet time. Then remind them at each stage, how long they have left and what will happen next.
Encourage your children to wind down each evening. Switch from boisterous or noisy games to quiet time. Get involved in the activities with them. Reading, puzzles, and quiet games all work. Some experts suggest relaxing music.
One of the reasons for tears at bedtime is that children sometimes don’t feel they have had enough attention during the day. So spend some time with them before you start the bedtime countdown.
Make bath time fun but not too boisterous. Allow them to have toys in the bath and gently remind them what’s coming next. For example: “In five minutes we’re going to get dry before getting into bed” Tell them that they can have a story after their bath – this provides them with an incentive to get into bed.
Make their bedroom a comfortable environment with everything they need to hand. Settle them down with comforters and teddy bears while you read a story. For babies, opt for comfy baby bedding sheets and swaddles.
Some children don’t like the dark and so consider keeping a night light switched on for them. This will help them to feel safe.
Make sure you have everything you need before they get into bed. This will discourage them from getting up again. Before you leave the room, let them know that it’s now time to go to sleep and explain that you expect them to stay in bed until morning.
It may take a few nights before they get the hang of the routine but the key is to be firm and consistent. Stick to the same routine each evening and eventually, it will become easier. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that because they’re not going to sleep, they don’t need as much sleep. Staying up late alters the body clock and it becomes harder to fall asleep earlier.
With the right routine, you can adjust this and help them to a good night’s sleep. Eventually, they’ll get used to it and bedtimes will become calm and tear-free.
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