It is really important to me that my children are in bed at a reasonable time and that they stay in bed and go to sleep. I can give parenting my full energy, passion and commitment when I know that I am going to get a few hours to myself in the evening to recharge. It’s my ‘me’ time, the time that I use to work on this blog, exercise and relax. Without it and three children to care for full time I would very quickly burn out.
Also the children need their sleep. Sleep is important for brain development and growth. For these reasons I knew early on in my parenting career that a bedtime routine was going to be a priority in this house.
How to develop a bedtime routine;
– Plan the routine – Basically you need to develop a routine that helps your child to relax and wind down ready to sleep. We give our children a bath, some time watching calm television, a story and then they are tucked up in bed to sleep.
– Timing -The routine should take around an hour so figure out what time you want your children to go to sleep and work backwards. I think that young children should be in bed around seven. So we start our bedtime routine at six and put them in bed at seven.
– Get the child involved – If a bedtime routine is new to your child it is a good idea to get them involved as this will help them to co-operate. You could write the routine down, using pictures for young children. Then you could talk them through it before it starts so that they know at each stage what is coming next.
-Finishing off – Put the child into bed, say goodnight and leave the room. The expectation should be that the children will stay in bed and go to sleep. If they don’t I would advise using rapid return. This means that each time they get out of bed you quickly return them to bed with minimal interaction until they stay in bed and go to sleep.
- Make bedtime a pleasant experience, some one on one time with you whilst they have a bath and cuddles over a bedtime story. This will mean they resist bedtime less.
- Make sure they have their basic needs sorted before trying to settle them for the night. Offer them a drink, make sure they have been to the toilet. That way there will be no excuses for not staying in bed.
- Keep there bedroom conducive to sleep. Ideally no screens in the bedroom, toys tidied away, comfortable bed and bedding.
I hope the bedtime routine works well for your family. If you have any questions leave me a comment and I will do my best to help. Pleasant dreams!
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Pretty much exactly the routine my girls have had for years – the oldest is nearly 8 – works a treat. Especially handy if while one parent is doing the bathing the other is rapidly putting toys away and lowering the lighting. Love snuggling up on the couch with blankets, teddies and a few good library books (helps keep story time fresh if there’s a monthly turnover of new books).
In fact the routine now works so well that you don’t even have to bath them, just shove some pyjamas on them and brush their teeth and still works. Also really helps when visiting friends and relatives as they’re obviously really excited and a lot harder to settle, bath, books, quiet TV and bed = bish bash bosh!
That’s exactly what we do, Dave does bath time whilst I rapidly tidy up and create a nice calm atmosphere downstairs. Then we all snuggle up on the sofa and its lovely. Also oh my gosh how is your oldest nearly eight !!
Despite being a pretty un-routine person, we’ve found doing a bedtime routine really works well for all of us. It’s comforting knowing what’s happening when. We don’t always manage it at the right time (or the time we’d prefer!) but generally it’s made all the difference. It’s just good knowing that Laurence and I will get an evening together sans child. I can imagine the putting to bed gets complicated with more than one though!
Yes we aren’t generally massively routine based either but I need know know that I will get some alone time in the evenings or else I’d probably crack up ;-). Yes it gets complicated the more children you have but it’s our normal now.
I wholeheartedly agree with you on this! A good routine is essential so that children know what is going on, and what is expected. There’s a time for everything! And you’re spot on about evening’s being time for ourselves…once our little ones are dreaming away!
Excellent tips! 🙂