Bedtime used to be the worst time of the day for us. Its not all idyllic like the picture is on the right. It can really test your parenting skills! For many parents it can be the most frustrating and exasperating part of your day. If you are like me, you are tired, your children are tired, and all you want is for a little time to relax before you go to bed. The problem is, your children are not ready to go to bed! They find other activities to do, they won’t stay in bed, they need a drink, or need to go to the bathroom one more time. They whine, you react, and bedtime turns into a nightmare. Does that sound familiar? Here are five tips that may help make the bedtime routine go a lot smoother and more peachful:
Tip Number One: Try keeping your child active during the day with plenty of physical exercise. They should be allowed to unwind and have quiet time before the bedtime routine begins. A soothing bath and the scent of lavender will help them relax and unwind. Playing a tape of nature sounds or creating “white” noise will help your child sleep.
Tip Number Two: Set a regular bedtime and keep your child on schedule. Set up a regular routine and stick with it. That bedtime should be followed each night so they will know what to expect each evening. Take some time to cuddle or read to your child each evening before putting them to bed. This will allow them to feel loved and secure as they are preparing for sleep.
Tip Number Three: Cut down on the time your child spends watching television. The longer he or she sits during the day the more likely they will be active and restless at bedtime. Increasing your child’s activity during the day and refraining from high stimulus activities an hour before bed will prepare them for settling down to sleep.
Tip Number Four: Allow one half hour reading time after your child gets in bed. This may mean you will need to read them a story after you tucked them in. If your child is older, they should be allowed to read quietly in bed for a short time before it is time for lights out. This can be another teaching tool. You can read with them or allow them to read to you choosing a story you are both interested in. You can limit your reading to one or two chapters a night. This will give them something to look forward to as part of their regular bedtime routine.
Tip Number Five: Try not to let your bedtime routine be something both you and your child dread. Prepare them with a regular schedule, prepare them by helping them unwind, and make bedtime a special time. Quiet music, closeness, and cuddling will help them feel secure as they go to sleep. You should never lose your temper or control, when you do you both lose.