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Stop Fighting Over Bedtime: 4 Tips for a Smoother Routine for Kids

As a busy working mother with lots of responsibilities on your plate, the kids’ bedtime represents an opportunity to finally relax and enjoy some much-needed self-care. But, if you’re like other mothers, bedtime can often be an emotional battle.

4 Tips for a Better Bedtime Routine

“…my child doesn’t have to go to bed until 9pm. I don’t understand why everyone else gets to stay up and watch the rest of the movie. You promised I could stay up late if I did my homework. I had a bad dream and can’t fall back asleep. I need a drink of water. I need ice in the water. I promise I’ll go to bed early tomorrow. I’m hungry. I want to sleep in your bed tonight. I need more water…”

While a bedtime routine won’t solve everything, it will help. Repetition, structure, and predictability have a way of comforting children and making them feel safe. Eventually, the routine will become something they long for. The struggle to stay up late will, for the most part, subside.

Every child is different, but the following tips will help you come up with a better bedtime routine for your kids:

Set Expectations

Like most people, kids prefer to know what’s going on, even if they don’t have much control over it. Instead of springing bedtime on your five-year-old last minute, try your best to set expectations. Give a 30-, 10-, and 5-minute warning so they can mentally prepare themselves for bedtime.

Unwind Ahead of Time

It’s important to help your children “unwind” as bedtime nears. Trying to tuck a child in immediately after playing a basketball game in the driveway won’t work. Instead, you should progress through a series of relaxing steps. This may include dinner, board games, bath time, reading books, saying prayers, and finally lying down to sleep.

Always Brush Teeth

For as long as you can probably remember, brushing your teeth has been a part of your bedtime routine. You should integrate this into your child’s bedtime routine from an early age, too. Not only does it add some structure to the moments leading up to bed, but it’s also highly beneficial from a health perspective.

“Cavities are the most common chronic condition in children, says Regina Benjamin, MD, MBA, in her report titled Oral Health: The Silent Epidemic. Tooth decay is about five times as common as asthma and seven times as common as hay fever,” Bear-Glasgow Dental explains. “Cavities lead to tooth loss, and sadly, it’s not just an issue among seniors, but children as well.”

Avoid Waiting Too Long

Have you ever wondered why your kids can continue to tell you that they aren’t tired when they clearly are? Well, there’s actually a scientific explanation. Once a child becomes “overtired,” the stress hormone cortisol is released, which makes it more challenging to settle down. It can actually take them longer to fall asleep and make them wake up more throughout the night.

By moving your child’s bedtime up 20 or 30 minutes before they get tired, you can actually make the process of falling asleep much smoother. They might not like it at first, but it’ll be easier for everyone.

End the Day on a Good Note

At the end of a long, hard day, the last thing you want is to deal with whiny children. It takes what is supposed to a stress-free couple of hours and turns it into a constant back and forth battle. A solid routine won’t solve everything, but it’ll certainly help you get things pointed in a better direction.

Written by Natalie Bracco for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.


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