Bedtime: Ready or Not?

It’s no secret that parents are ready for bed waaaaaay before kids are on board with the idea. But a fun bedtime routine can make all the difference between a whining-stalling-frustrating bedtime and smooth sailing to dreamland! Here are some ideas for bettering your bedtimes:

1- Take the Plunge: A bedtime bath—particularly a long soak with plenty of time with bath toys and bubbles—is a wonderful way for kids to wash off the cares of the day and start to relax.

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My kids always loved when I put a few drops of food coloring in their bath water. (Don’t worry—the coloring is diluted enough that there’s zero skin staining.) I’d ask my kids, “What color of bath do you want tonight?” (Teal and pink were consistently the top two choices.)

2- Dress for Success: When you go to a job interview, you dress in a professional manner, right? Not only does this make a good impression on your potential employer, wearing the right outfit gives you that mental framework that leads to success. In like manner, dressing in comfy pajamas sends your body a signal that it’s time to calm down.

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When I put on my jammies, my body automatically sighs in relief. Dressing your kiddos in Lazy One pajamas gives them a very real cue that it’s time to settle down!

3- Read, Read, Read: Turn off the screens in the hours before bedtime and grab a good book (or several!) to enjoy with your little ones.

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Books enlarge minds. Books build vocabulary. Books are enjoyable and entertaining. Books are an ideal opportunity for parent/child bonding. And, contrary to being stimulated by screens, books help the body prepare for sleep. There’s really nothing better than snuggles and stories!

4- Prepare for the Stall: It’s just a given that your child, as he or she is being tucked in, is going employ their very best stalling techniques. “I’m thirsty! I need to go potty! One more story! Check the closet for monsters!” Every parent knows the drill. It’s a strategy we used on our own parents and, although we recognize stalling for what it is, it can be frustrating to tired moms and dads who just want to hit the hay themselves. So prepare a good offense by having a bottle of water on the nightstand already. Make sure Junior goes to the bathroom before climbing into bed.

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And set the boundary that after teeth are brushed, snacks are not an option!

5- The Love Time: When I was growing up, my mother would snuggle with each child, one-on-one, right before bed. This was called the “love time.” Love times were a safe and warm time for us to talk about anything that was on our minds.

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We’d talk, we’d giggle, we’d make up crazy stories, and Mom would sing to us. (She had a beautiful voice!) Whether your bedtime snuggles look similar to the “love times” of my childhood or not, take a few moments to connect before saying, “Goodnight.” Ask your child what the best (or worst) part of their day was. Tell them a story from your childhood. Sing a song. Say a prayer. Whatever feels best to you!

Last, but not least, the activities leading up to bedtime can greatly affect bedtime itself. As we all know, it’s much harder calming down after stressful or stimulating experiences! Life happens, so flexibility is key. Some nights are just going to be frustrating and hard, despite our best efforts! But as we strive to make bedtime a priority, families will receive the rest they need and be better equipped physically, emotionally, and mentally to meet the challenges ahead!