I’m a fan of routines. I know they aren’t for everyone but I’ve always found life just runs more smoothly when everyone knows what’s happening when. This has proven even more true since having kids and in one area in particular absolutely invaluable.
Even if you’ve got fun curtains and themed bed frames, bedtimes can be stressful with young kids. Handling a tired toddler is like tiptoeing through a mine field while someone throws cowpats at you so I try to keep to a bedtime routine as much as possible. Of course every family will need to adapt a routine to suit their own situation but here are my tips:
- Consistency in more important than content – It’s not so much what you do as the fact that it is the same every day that make your child realise it is time for bed.
- Think temperature – When the human body relaxes and cools slightly it naturally wants to go to sleep so don’t keep bedrooms too warm or wrap them in too many layers. A warm bath followed by cooling down slightly in a comfy bed is likely to get the best results.
- No distractions – It’s tempting to keep toys out of the rest of the house by keeping them all in the bedroom but if kids can see them it’s likely to be a distraction from going to sleep, especially once they are old enough to get out of bed and get them. We’ve chosen to only keep books in the boys room with everything else taking over our dining room instead but if you need to keep toys in the bedroom I’d suggest storing them in a way that is out of sight. Boxes and cupboards rather than shelves and bookcases.
- Are they both physically and mentally tired? – Depending on what you’ve been doing all day you might find that it is more one than the other. To address this, after dinner while I’m washing up, I will get the boys to either spend ten minutes quietly making words on the fridge with letter magnets (E does his spellings, T tries to find the letters in his name) or ten minutes dancing to the radio. This has really made a difference to how well they sleep.
- No pressure – Nothing makes it harder to fall asleep than knowing that you must fall asleep so instead make it clear that what is important is to stay quietly in bed. Sleep will come by itself.
We’ve now got our whole bath/book/bed routine down to 20 minutes and it is lovely having that extra time back in the evenings. What are your most effective bedtime routines?