Bedtime is the time of day that many parents dread. It is the end of a long day and you’re tired yourself, but it seems like sleep is the last thing on your little ones’ mind. Many parents find it very stressful – often because they know how important it is for children to get a good amount of quality sleep – but it is oh so common for kids to push back and not want to go to bed.
Getting your little ones to bed – and sleep – can be challenging, but there are some things which you can do to make the process easier, less stressful – and actually enjoyable for you and your children. For many people, this is the chance to spend some quality time with their children and this is time which could be treasured.
In the name of an easy bedtime, giving your kids the chance to rest and develop well – and give you the chance to value some quality time with them, here are some tips on how to get your children to bed:
Having a good bedtime routine is very important. According to Little Lucy Willow, “Your child may moan about this part of their day but they would no doubt be lost without it, so try your best to persevere. Routine may seem boring and restrictive but in actual fact, it’s your child’s anchor. Not only does it give much-needed boundaries it is also a huge form of comfort in their busy little lives.”
Try to work out some winding downtime, bath, teeth, story, and bed at roughly the same time every day. This gives your children a solid basis to feel safe and comfortable, and a great environment to help them fall asleep.
2. No Screens
Whether it is a TV, tablet or mobile phone, screens are one of sleep’s biggest enemies for all of us. There is research that shows that being exposed to screens can affect the levels of melatonin in the brain – the hormone which can help us to sleep. The mental stimulation which we get from watching television can also be detrimental to getting to sleep.
In the wind-down time before bed, therefore, it is important to try to cut screen time as much as possible. Turn TVs off, leave phones downstairs and replace tablets with a bedtime story to help minds relax.
A bedtime story is a great buffer between the activity of bath time and the stillness of bedtime. By reading your children a story – either in or out of bed – you can create some quiet, relaxing and calm time, engage their brains and spend quality time with them. You can also help your children to learn about the wonder of books, use their imaginations – and give you the chance to revisit some of your favourite stories from when you were little.
As your children get older, you could use this time to read, or talk about and reflect on what they’ve been doing during the day.
4. Getting the Right Environment
You wouldn’t expect to be able to fall asleep in a busy shopping centre, and things are the same for your children. It is important to create the right environment for them to sleep. Make sure that it is a calm and quiet environment without too much mental stimulation. Some ideas for creating this include:
- Dimly lit light, or a small lamp only
- Using fairy lights
- Dark curtains
- A warm temperature but not too hot
- Soft sheets
- Not too many toys but maybe a soft toy on the bed
5. Pay Attention to Food and Drink
It can be difficult to get to sleep if we are hungry – or if we have eaten too much. Make sure that you have given your children their dinner enough time before that to feel satisfied, but not hungry or full. You should also make sure that they haven’t eaten or drunk much sugar or caffeine in the late afternoon or evening before bed, to help them to get to sleep.
Some parents like to give their children a calming drink before bedtime – a cup of warm milk, for example, but avoid chocolate and high amounts of sugar.
Having a smooth and stress-free bedtime is important both for children and parents, and the main way to get this is by having a solid routine that promotes calm and quietness in the run-up to bedtime. By making your children feel comfortable and secure and knowing what to expect every day, you can begin to make bedtime an enjoyable part of the day for everyone.