Bedtime Routines

Getting a good night’s sleep for children is extremely important.  Sleep has a number of factors that impact a child’s day-to-day life.  Good sleep helps enhance our little’s immunity system and keeps it working, helps them maintains a healthy weight, boosts their attention span which increases their learning abilities, and also prevents injuries.  I’m sure we all can agree that sleep is a very important aspect in our children’s lives; however the main question is how do we get our children to bed ON TIME??

No matter what age your infant, toddler, or preschooler is having a consistent bedtime routine can make a huge difference in your household.  Children do so much better when they know what to expect and what is to come after.  Just with any transition, if a child doesn’t know what will happen next, they find their new task to be extremely difficult.  As parents, we know what these times look like right?  Do tantrums, crying spells, defiance come to mind? We’ve all been there I’m sure, but having a bedtime routine in place will help reduce these stressful times.  

1.         Watch For Signs of Being Overtired

With our busy schedules, each child will show signs of restlessness at various times.  When you notice your child getting tired, be prepared and start your bedtime routine even if that means you have a head start on it.  That’s OK!!! Check out the table from parents.com to see how much sleep your child should be getting. 

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Sleep chart from Parents.com

2.  Give Warnings, Not Just Increments of Time

Children don’t understand the time concept like adults do. For example if you tell your child they have five minutes before bedtime, they don’t understand what that truly means. Instead try giving specifics. Such as “It will be bedtime after your snack” or “It’s time for bed when you are done coloring your picture.”  These examples will help your child better understand what will happen next.

 

3.  Have a Consistent Bedtime 

Make sure your routine is predictable and has the same sequence every night.  This will make your child become familiar with the expectations and this routine will just become habit for them at night.

4. Turn Off Electronics

Even though electronics are a main part of our lives, they have a huge affect on our sleep quality.  Not only do they keep our brains going, but the blue light from the screen reduces your melatonin levels which is a key element to get a good night’s sleep.  Take all electronics away at least one hour before bedtime. 

 

5. Down Time Is Key

Instead of just sending your children off to bed, make sure they get some sort of quiet down time to unwind from their busy day. Some ideas could be having your child color, do a puzzle, cuddle, or read books with them!!!  This will help them fall asleep easier and be at ease. 

 

6.  Create a Comfortable Sleeping Environment

Make sure their room is at an adequate temperature, not too hot not too cold.  If they like to snuggle with a blanket or stuffed animal make sure they are provided with one every night.  As your child gets older, let them set their bed up as they want.  If they want to have their stuffed animals tucked in a certain way or have their blankets in a certain direction,  let them do so!  This is a comfort point for them.

 

7.  Offer Only Healthy Bedtime Snacks

Make sure any snacks they have before bed are healthy and do not contain sugar or caffeine. Some good bedtime snacks include apples, string cheese, whole-grain toast, yogurt and fruit, or a bowl of sugar free cereal. 

 

8. Always Say Good Night… To Everyone!

Make sure your child has the opportunity to say good night to everybody around them: sisters, brothers, moms, dads, pets, etc.  This will help your child feel comfortable and ready for bed.

 

9.  Brush Teeth and Go Potty

After bedtime snacks are done and they’re ready to hit the hay, make sure to brush teeth.  Brushing teeth at night is even more important than the morning times because of bacteria that builds up during the night and attacks those pearly whites. To help with those self help skills let your children brush first and then you follow up after.  

Enjoying What Matters Most During the Holiday Season

When you hear the word holiday, what comes to mind?  If you’re like most, it’s shopping, cookie making, sales, house cleaning, scheduling gatherings, and meal preparations.  Trying to find the time to get all this done is beyond stressful and takes away from what matters the most, family joy and creating a deeper meaning for our children during the holiday season.

The key is to try and simplify!  Taking on too much will sabotage the true meaning, that warm feeling you want for your family.   First off, consider what you love most about your holidays, and then find what no longer aligns with your values.  Finding traditions that your family can cherish year after year will gain greater meaning for your children over the years.  It can be as simple as cooking the same breakfast together every Christmas morning or doing something for your community to help teach your children love and kindness throughout the year.  Here are a few holiday traditions to try with your family that might add more meaning this holiday season.  Don’t expect perfection!  Face it, when you have children that word doesn’t exist.  Don’t worry about getting it on social media either, just enjoy the time with your family.   

Rethink the advent calendar that’s filled with chocolate or toys.  Yes, this already is a loved tradition by many children but why not consider something different, something you can use as a learning opportunity.  One way is to do an act of kindness or participate in a charity every day.  Or try a book calendar.  Every night before bed, you can read a Christmas book to your child. 

Start a collection of special ornaments for the tree.  Each year, decorate your tree together with your family and as you unpack each ornament, you can share the story/memory behind each one.  These don’t always have to store bought.  Make an ornament together that expresses your child’s interests, talents or milestones.   Then as your children buy their own home, gift the entire collection to them so they can continue to the tradition with their family.

Give the gift of memories.  Why buy endless toys that your child will only play with for a short period instead of sharing an experience together that they be cherished years to come.  Try a family concert or show, music lessons, cooking classes, or a family get a way to the water park.  This is such a great way to create lasting memories.

Spend an evening walking or driving around the neighborhood to look at all the Christmas lights and decorations.  Pick out your favorite ones and just enjoy your time together talking about your day. 

Show an act of kindness by doing something for someone who might be alone during the holiday season.  Whether it’s your neighbor or an elderly relative, dropping off treats or a home cooked meal can bring so much joy to those.    

Get involved in a variety of charity events together as a family.Take part in your local food drive, soup kitchen, or Salvation Army bell ringing locations.

This year, try to embrace your family traditions and not worry so much about the little things.  Be reasonable and don’t expect every Christmas to go as planned.  Cherish your time with your family and enjoy the moments because they only last so long.   Spending time together is the most precious gift we can give to our children.