5 best techniques to make a child’s bedtime easy

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child’s bedtime

Getting the little ones to bed. Never an easy feat, whether you’re at home or on the road. It seems that no matter how full a day you’ve had, no matter how many family activities you’ve been doing, no matter how exhausted they seem…when it comes to bedtime, they instantly seem to perk up.

They know that Mom and Dad, plus their older siblings, are all staying up later than they are. And they sense that something magical happens during this time to which they’re not privy; exciting shows are watched, snacks are eaten, laughs are had. The result? A big case of FOMO and a very cranky child!

Fear not, weary parents – because I know of a few quick tricks that can help you get your child to bed when they’re supposed to. Without the drama. And because I’m feeling generous, I thought I’d share them with you!

1. Create a pre-bedtime routine

We’re all used to some kind of routine in the mornings. We shower, we have breakfast, we head to work and we pick up a coffee on the way. Within that routine lies a dozen other routines involved in getting the kids ready for school – lunchboxes are packed, homework is checked and kisses are given before ensuring they’re on their way in good time.

When it comes to evening routines though, we can be less organised. The bedtime we set for our kids often goes out the window, especially if friends or relatives pop over to visit. We might feel too tired ourselves for baths or story times; as a result, our little ones find it hard to settle down.

But it’s so important to set – and stick to – a solid bedtime routine at an early age. So after dinner, start the wind-down early. Turn off all devices that emit blue light (like phones or tvs), as these increase alertness and can over-stimulate your child. Instead, prepare some indoor activities (coming up!) before giving them some warm milk to settle them down further. Finally, a nice bath will let them know bedtime isn’t far away; even if they seem to get hyper again with all the splashing around, it is relaxing them on the inside!

Once they’ve changed into their pajamas, it’s time to read them a story. Try to spend some time with them in their room like this so they go to bed feeling safe and secure.

2. Keep playtime indoors

Your kids aren’t going to be sleepy straight after dinner; more likely, they’ll want to make a break for the great outdoors. Unfortunately, playing games outside can overstimulate them and make it impossible to get them to bed at a normal hour…especially if it’s summertime and bright outside!

Instead, think of some calming activities they can do indoors. These include painting or coloring, playing house or making a scrapbook. All creative, imaginative games that are great for bonding with your child…without getting them too hyped up before bedtime.

3. Create a soft atmosphere

Bedtime is made even easier if you’ve made the necessary preparations first. So even before they’ve had their bath, or their glass of warm milk, or played those indoor games, turn your child’s bedroom into a sleep sanctuary. Start by turning on a night-light or bedside lamp if you have one.

Next, make sure their favorite blanket is on their bed and don’t forget any cuddly toys they love! So when it comes to story time, you’ll be lulling your child to sleep in an environment that’s familiar, cozy and perfect for slumber.

4. Offer a rewards scheme

If you’re having trouble getting your kids to go – and stay – in bed, try using a sticker chart. If they stay in bed until breakfast time, they get to add a sticker to the chart. If by Saturday morning they’ve filled a line of stickers in the chart, they get some sort of treat. Like pancakes for breakfast!

It may seem like a desperate solution but honestly, kids love the competitive, gaming aspect… and a little bribery can go a long way!

5. Don’t engage

This is an important one to remember. Because if your child is acting up or showing off right before bedtime, they may just want a little extra attention. They know that if they kick off at the right moment, they’ll get extra hugs, another story and a little more parent time.

By not engaging with this behavior, you’re letting them know that it’s not okay to act this way! Sometimes the strongest approach is the silent one – so just ignore whatever tantrum they’re throwing on the landing, steer them silently back to bed and eventually they’ll realize that they’re not going to get any extra attention. Combine this with the ‘rewards club’ technique and they’ll know it pays more to stay in bed!

Hopefully these techniques will help make your child’s bedtime a little easier… and as a result, your life a little easier, too! For more sleep-related tips, check out what the guys at The Sleep Advisor have to say.

In the meantime, may you and your little ones enjoy a sweeter, sounder sleep – tonight, and every night!

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