Getting the Kids to Sleep: How to Set a Routine to Allow Yourself Some Down Time at Night
Do you ever feel like as soon as you finally get the kids to bed you just want to fall asleep too? Or that putting the kids to bed has become such a chore that you dread it every night? Well, so do millions of other parents. But it’s important to take time to set a kids’ sleep routine to allow yourself to unwind before your OWN bedtime so you can get the best night’s sleep as well. Here are a few tricks to get kids in bed earlier so you have some “me time” at the end of the night:
• Offer incentive. If you’re not already reading a bedtime story, offer one with an earlier bedtime. Or give them the opportunity to pick the story of their choice…whatever is healthy for them but will also get them to bed--do it. Lead into bedtime with a daily reflection. Talking about the day is a great way for kids to work on their communication skills as well as deal with any anxieties or stress that may hinder their sleep schedule. Keep this as scheduled and eventually your kids will understand that after talking out their day, its lights out.
• Eat dinner earlier. Trying to sleep on a full stomach can be difficult for kids and adults. Likewise, giving children 3-4 hours of free time (minus food!) will help them be ready for bed when the time comes. They’ll have had plenty of time to digest, as long as they avoided sugary or caffeinated snacks.
• Give them a warm bath. Like adults, kids need a way to wind down before bedtime. A calming bath is a great way to signal their little bodies that it’s time to sleep, helping them go to sleep quicker.
• Routine, routine, routine! Nothing is as important to young minds and bodies like keeping a regular schedule. Little Tommy might want to stay up until midnight on New Year’s Eve, but if his body is accustomed to an 8 p.m. bedtime, eventually routine will win out and he’ll miss the ball drop. So as much as you may be tempted to avoid argument by giving in to requests, sticking to a routine will always serve you best in the end.
Providing even 15 minutes to wind down before bed has been shown to lower stress levels and increase quality of sleep in adults. So give yourself some much needed time to yourself and make the kids’ bedtime routine stress free!