Why is it that bedtime always seems to be a struggle for littles? You’d think that we, as moms, would have this round-up and routine mastered considering it comes around every. . .single . . . day. As grown-ups, it’s hard to understand why children are so averse to the concept of getting a good night’s sleep. I mean, who in their right mind doesn’t appreciate an end to the chaos of the day and the blissfulness of a wonderful night’s sleep. The answer: children! For some reason, which grown-ups do not comprehend, little kids simply don’t like going to bed. As a result, bedtime tends to turn into a nightly battle, which all-too-often results in grumpy parents, grumpy kids, and less-than-ideal sleep for everyone. Understanding that this is a common situation, I decided to share some of my tips to help your kids with bedtime.
And although some of them may seem a little odd, they’ve worked for my kiddos. As with all my pieces of advice, take what you want and leave what you don’t. Hopefully, though, you’ll find some helpful points in this list to make bedtime less of a struggle and more of a delight.
Tips to help your kids with bedtime
Tip #1: Eat dinner earlier
One of the biggest challenges with getting kids off to bed on-time is we run out of time! Your bedtime routine should begin as soon as dinner is over. So, if you eat dinner too later, you’re already setting yourself up for failure. Most parents are pretty good at choosing a firm bedtime, but very few of these same parents are good at choosing a firm dinner time. By staying true to a firm dinner time, you make it much easier to stay true to your firm bedtime. In my family, we eat dinner at 6 p.m., which means, I need to start dinner well before that time. In other words, as soon as the “workday” is over, that’s when dinner preparation begins.
Tip #2: No screens after dinner
As soon as dinner concludes, you should begin the process of preparing the family for bedtime. A big part of this preparation includes the winding-down of the brain by disconnecting everyone from electronic devices. This includes parents, too! Yes. Now, if you absolutely need to use a screen, do it in a way that is not visible to the children.
Tip #3: Clean for 15 minutes
To help the kids get ready for bed, help them get rid of their remaining energy. The way I do this is together we all clean up the kitchen and/or living room for 15 minutes. The goal isn’t to complete the task of cleaning the entire room. The goal is to expend the remaining energy the kids may have, which will encourage them to want to head to bed more willingly. Also, cleaning together is a great way to spend time together as a family. For me, any together time is time well spent.
Tip #4: Get the kids into pajamas at least 15 minutes prior to bedtime
If bedtime is set for 8:30 p.m., then get your kids into pajamas by 8:15 p.m. When you send them to put on their jammies, turn off the lights in the living room and kitchen. Or at least dim them. This is a visual cue that bedtime has commenced.
Tip #5: Read your children a story
I’m surprised and saddened by how many people do NOT do this step. Reading a story and/or singing to your kids not only helps them fall asleep faster, but it is a beautiful way to communicate that you love your kids and want to be by them. It is a magical moment. Later in life, as you reflect on your parenting years, you’ll be very grateful you did this.
Tip #6: As you tuck them in, say you love them and that you’ll check on them in a bit
When you tuck your children in and leave the room, something that I’ve learned is really helpful and calming is to tell my kids, “I love you. I’ll check on you in a bit.”
Of course, you need to be true to this promise. Check on your kids in five minutes, then ten minutes, and then fifteen minutes. By the third check, they will very likely be asleep.
Conclusion about tips to help your kids with bedtime
These are just a few tips to help your kids with bedtime, but they work for me. And though bedtime continues to sometimes be a struggle for my littles, it is no longer the fight it used to be.