Kids need plenty of sleep to stay healthy and happy, and an age-appropriate bedtime is key. Kids also thrive on routine, so try to keep your bedtime activities as regular as possible. It’s so important to get your kids to bed early enough to enable them to get the sleep they need, but this means parents sometimes miss out on playtime at night or even seeing their children awake at the end of the day. Please let them get to bed on time, and try to find other times to spend with them – maybe making more time in the morning or spending special quality time during the weekend.
If you find that your bedtime routine and kids’ antics are dragging on longer and longer, here are three tips to help you get your kids to sleep on time.
Cut down your routine to the basics. Think about what things you can do at other times of the day. For example, ask your nanny to bathe your little one during the day (maybe before a nap). Read more stories at other times of the day so that you can just have one special book before bed. If you are transitioning from a longer routine, cut back gradually over a few days to allow your child to adjust to the shorter routine.
WRITE IT DOWN
Regularity is key, so list the steps, order, and timing of your routine. It will help you be consistent, but it will also enable other caregivers to follow the routine if you aren’t there. For toddlers and older children, try making a simple picture chart of the routine that they can follow to keep the bedtime simple and fun. You can even reward following the routine and completing the steps by giving stickers or other positive reinforcement.
This may be tough if you work a long day, but the bedtime routine can even start before you or your kids get home. If your child is at daycare until the early evening, ask your provider if she can feed him dinner or change him into his PJs before you pick him up. That will be one less thing you have to do once you get home. The goal with a bedtime routine is to slow down and begin readying the mind and body for sleep. By starting the process earlier, it gives you and your kids the opportunity to ease into bedtime without increasing stress or rushing to beat the clock. And please try to turn off the TV at least an hour before bedtime!
For more sleep tips, please see our Rules to Sleep By.