Make Your Children’s Bedtime Easier
Time flies when you are a parent. Before you know it, your baby is already walking and talking. And before you know it again, your child is growing older and going to school. There are so many milestones in between that parenting feels like a roller coaster. We all want the best for our children and try our best to support them whenever they need it. Sometimes that means doing things that aren’t easy or convenient for us as their parents. Making sure they go to bed at a decent time every night is one of those things we have to do for them, not for ourselves. It’s not easy to get kids ready for bed – especially when they’re excited about something else or just don’t feel like it. In fact, most parents find bedtime to be one of the hardest parts of raising kids. However, there are some simple tricks and tips you can use to make this process easier and even fun for both of you.
1. Read together
Bedtime stories are a time-honored tradition that many parents swear by. Reading a good story can relax your child and help her or him let go of the day’s troubles, allowing them to rest and sleep well. Reading a book or two at bedtime can also help you build a stronger connection with your child and have a lot of fun at the same time. It can be a great bonding experience, especially if you read together regularly.
If you choose the right books, reading can also help your child develop better language skills, imagination, and critical thinking. It can even improve their reading skills. There are so many great books for children of all ages. You can read classics that are loved by parents and grandparents from generations ago. Or you can read new releases that your child may not be able to read yet but can enjoy listening to. You can even read books together that are geared towards your child’s age and interests.
2. Have a bedtime snack
Healthy kids are happy kids. That goes for bedtime too. Make sure that whatever you serve your child at bedtime is packed with healthy ingredients. It can be a simple snack or even a light meal. It all depends on your child’s age, activity level, and personal needs. It could be some milk, yogurt, or a warm bowl of oatmeal. Or some fresh fruits with a bit of yogurt and honey. If your child is older and can eat more, you can even make a sandwich or a small wrap with low-fat cheese and vegetables. The main idea is to keep your child’s blood sugar balanced so that he or she doesn’t get hyperactive at bedtime.
3. Don’t argue over pajamas
There are no rules when it comes to pajamas. Wear the ones your child likes and feels comfortable in – even if they look silly to you. If you force your child to wear pajamas they don’t like, they are just going to complain about it, which will make the whole bedtime process take even longer. If your child is too young to understand why she or he needs to wear pajamas, let it go, and don’t worry. You don’t have to enforce the “pajamas are necessary” rule with an infant. Just put your baby in footie pajamas or swaddles, and let them sleep in a diaper or a onesie. The important thing is to keep your child warm and safe. Once your child is a bit older, explain to them why pajamas are important.
4. Set a good example – and make your own bed too!
Kids are sponges that soak up everything around them, for better or worse. If your child sees you jumping out of bed at 5 AM every day, chances are that’s what he or she will do as well. If they see you taking naps in the middle of the day, they will do the same. If they see you reading books, they will read too. And if they see you making your bed every morning, they will do the same. Making your bed every morning is a simple but effective way of setting a good example for your child. It shows that you respect yourself and respect the people around you. It also has a practical purpose – it makes it easier for you to clean up your room and keeps clutter at bay.
5. Don’t fight; negotiate instead
Even when you do everything right, bedtime can be challenging and stressful for many families. When kids don’t want to go to bed, it can turn into a long, drawn-out battle that leaves everyone feeling frustrated. Some parents resort to using punishments like taking away devices or toys or sending kids to time-out. While they might work in the short term and get your kid to finally go to bed, they also teach kids that they have to be punished in order to do things they don’t want to do.
Instead, negotiate with your child and try to find a solution that works for both of you. Kids are still growing and developing, and sometimes they just don’t know what is best for them. They might insist on staying up late because they want to play with their friends or watch TV. They might also insist that they don’t need any help with their bedtime routine because they can do it all by themselves.
6. Turn off devices and monitors
Many parents wonder if it’s a good idea to let their children use electronic devices. Those devices can be useful and educational. However, they can also be harmful if overused. If your child is allowed to use devices at all, make sure to set a bedtime. Otherwise, he or she might play on them until they drop. Remember that devices emit a blue light that negatively affects your child’s sleep. The light can keep him or her up longer and can even lead to sleep disorders. It can also negatively impact your child’s health in the long run. Turn off all devices at least an hour before bedtime. Make sure to unplug any chargers as well.
7. Try sticker charts and other rewards
There are many creative ways to reward your child for doing things they should be doing anyway. One of those is using sticker charts to encourage your child to stay in bed until it’s time to get up. If you have a younger child, you can use sticker charts for any number of things. You can even turn any mischievous bedtime antics into a game where you collect “badges” for your child. You can also use rewards that aren’t as temporary as stickers. For example, you could promise to take your child to a movie after he or she has gone to bed on time for a certain number of nights in a row. Or you could promise to buy them a new toy or game after a certain number of consecutive good nights.
Bedtime can be a struggle for both parents and children. It can be frustrating to get everyone in the right mindset for bed when everyone is already tired and cranky. There are many different ways to make bedtime easier. The most important thing is to keep things consistent and do what works for your family. There are no perfect parents, and every family has its share of struggles. It’s normal for kids to resist going to bed and for parents to struggle with getting them ready for bedtime. It doesn’t mean that you’re doing anything wrong. It just means that you’re human and parenting is difficult. With the right heart and intentions, however, you can make bedtime easier for everyone in your family. And if you do it right, your child will look back fondly on those bedtimes as a cherished part of childhood.