Five Steps for an Easy Bedtime…zzzz
We all know that feeling, it’s been a busy day and you’re looking forward to sitting down to relax come the evening. Your child has other ideas! They have had a great day and they’re buzzing off of the excitement, so much so that they’re refusing bedtime because they don’t want the fun to end.
Here are five top tips for getting those little ones into bed without those usual stresses so you can all enjoy an evening.
One – Routine
Everyone thrives on routine and for the little ones who can’t tell the time, routine is their only way of knowing what time of day it is. It doesn’t have to be a strict routine which keeps to a particular time each day but just a general rule of when in the day something happens. This means children will know what to expect next based on the previous activity.
Keeping to a routine helps to minimise those spur of the moment tantrums that occur when something is expected of a child that they hadn’t prepared for.
Two – Bath time
Bathtime is a great way to end the day. Not only does it give children the chance to have a good wash after a potentially messy day but it is also a relaxing way to finish the day. A warm bath (tepid in hot weather to avoid overheating) helps the mind and body to relax ready for a restful nights sleep. You can also add child friendly essential oils which help the mind to switch off. Having bath time as part of a routine as the last activity of the day helps to prepare children mentally for the idea of going to bed.
Three – Lighting
Light levels are important in the discussion of sleep because darkness encourages the production of melatonin which is the hormone which helps us to sleep. Start by dimming the lights in the bedroom to a soft glow, this will create a calm atmosphere which will encourage a child to feel relaxed and sleepy and will encourage the production of melatonin.
A good purchase would be blackout blinds or curtains. They can vary in price but you don’t have to spend a fortune to get the same result. The idea is to minimise the amount of natural light getting into the bedroom. Not such a problem in winter but nap time and summer can be particularly tricky.
If your child needs a night light choose red light.
Four – Stories
Lots of families end the day with stories, this is a particularly good activity before bedtime. A calming story can trigger the imagination which will stay with your child as they fall asleep thinking of their own stories or extending the story they have read. It’s important to read a calm story, nothing scary or too adventurous else you might stimulate the mind so much that they can’t switch off!
For infants I like to end every story time with the same short story (my preference is ‘Goodnight Moon’). Over time they will begin to understand that this is the last story and know what is expected of them next.
Five – A comfortable Environment
Creating a comfortable space for children to sleep is easy. Keep the space free of toys and avoid mobiles and light projectors as those are stimulating for the brain. Use soft lighting whilst putting them to bed as suggested in tip three and where possible darkness for sleep. Keep the room temperature at a constant level as babies in particular find it difficult to regulate their temperature. A comfortable mattress suitable for their age and appropriate bedding for the age and the weather.
What’s important is that everyone involved is enjoying themselves. If you’re rushing to get through to ‘lights off’ the child will pick up on this and won’t feel at ease when trying to fall asleep. The bedtime routine can be an enjoyable time of day for everyone to relax and reflect on the day. Bath time can be a good time to ask older children what they enjoyed most that day or what they would like to do in the future. Use this time to bond as a family, it’s a great time for everyone to get involved.
The bath and bedtime routine doesn’t have to be a long one. In fact, it shouldn’t last more than thirty minutes. Bath time should be roughly twenty minutes, including running of the bath, washing and getting out. Which leaves ten minutes for stories before lights out. Any longer than this and it risks the children coming out of their relaxed phase and becoming over tired and hyperactive.
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