Before children you may have envisaged bedtimes as a serene and beautiful nightly event. Your child would snuggle up to you in their cosy pyjamas, smelling clean and gorgeous, as you read them their favourite bedtime story in bed. Once the book was finished, you’d carefully place a loving kiss on their forehead, as you tucked them into their bed and walked quietly out of their (spotlessly clean) bedroom, a smile on your face at the success of another perfect day!
Fast forward a few years and you’re chasing your screaming, naked toddler around the garden at 9 o’clock in the evening, coaxing them back in to the house with rice cakes, whilst simultaneously battling with your crying newborn as you try and change their 3rd nappy in a hour! Bedtimes are not easy! Sadly, there are no magic fixes, but here are a few tips that may help make your evenings become slightly less sweat-inducing.
A bedtime between 6.30 and 8.30 is perfect, as leaving bedtime too late will result in an over-tired, grumpy, hyper child who will find it difficult to go to sleep. Once you have decided the right bedtime for your child, try to stick to it as much as possible.
Introducing a regular bath time not only gives you the chance to wash the daily dirt off your little one, and allow them time to play and splash to their hearts content, but it’s a great signifier to your child that bedtime is just around the corner.
Sitting down with your children before bedtime and reading them a story has huge benefits. It gives them a chance to wind down before sleep, as well as develop their language and reading skills. It’s never too early to start a bedtime book routine, even teeny tiny people will benefit.
Switch It Off
Whilst it’s tempting to allow your children to watch TV or play on an iPad prior to bedtime, if just to get a few minutes silence, research has shown that allowing children to watch screens before bed (or in bed) interrupts their ability to fall asleep. Studies have identified that the ‘blue light’ admitted from screens at bedtime lead to less beneficial sleep and can cause tiredness the following day, even if your child has had a good amount of sleep. Ideally screens should be switched off at least 2 hours prior to bedtime.
A lovely bedtime routine that your child will love is to take them around the home to say goodnight to family members, pets and toys. But try to keep the goodbyes relatively calm, you don’t want to get your child too over-excited and ruin all the hard work of the bedtime routine.