My ‘solution’ for this predicament is to set up a system that minimises thinking on the spot so that you can’t be swayed by second-guessing yourself. It also means you don’t need to try to devise strategies when you’re tired and under pressure. What is this solution? It is called…drum roll please…a Bedtime Routine!
Yes, the humble bedtime routine has a lot to offer. It provides clear boundaries so your child knows what to expect. It is predictable so it instils a sense of calm because there is less chance of unexpected changes, promoting a safe and secure environment for your child.
Because a bedtime routine is the same every night, you don’t have to work hard to remember it and it is not location-specific, so you can still use it on holidays. Who knew there were so many benefits to a simple bedtime routine? Let’s unpack these benefits a bit more:
Connection is the other big factor here. Bedtime is often one of the only times many parents have the chance to connect one on one with their children. It’s not the time to open up a conversation about their worries, but it can be a beautiful time to tell them how proud you are of them, talk about things you’re both grateful for, or promote healthy practices such as mindfulness together.
- Make a habit of setting aside time earlier in the day to talk about any worries or big feelings your child might have. This way you won’t open up a can of worms right at bedtime, but you also won’t feel that you’re dismissing your child’s emotions.
- Remove screens two hours before bedtime
- Avoid bright lights in the lead up to bedtime. If it is bright outside, pull down the blinds and put some low-light lamps on around the house.
- Try to keep yourself calm as the parent – try not to multitask so that you can focus on your child’s needs which will ultimately get them to sleep more quickly so you can then shift your attention to other things more easily later.
- Have a consistent sequence of events, or a ‘functional ritual’ such as dinner, bath, PJs on, reading together in bed, a good night story and kiss, say ‘good night’, then leave the room.
- Set clear expectations to encourage your child to push through their desire to resist sleeping. For example, this can be a special breakfast in the morning if they go straight to sleep at bedtime.