Tips for Smoothing your Bedtime Routine
Bedtime is either a time of peace and harmony, or stress and noise, but the key to making sure your particular evenings are falling into the former category is knowing a few handy tips to smooth out the bedtime routine. This is a legendary time when things can go spectacularly wrong, and if they do, you’re setting a precedent for a night of tossing and turning from the get-go; get it right and you can all be assured a pretty even night’s dreaming.
It’s important to try and establish your routine and stick to it, so that means not confusing matters by having bedtime at 7pm one day and then letting them stay up until 8.30pm the next day – you need to be consistent. Ideally children aged 4-5 years should have a bedtime of around 7pm-7.30pm, so make sure you establish it and stick to it.
Ease into bedtime
Start the bedtime routine around half an hour before lights out, with slowly getting ready for bed, brushing teeth, a bedtime story etc. It’s better to ease into it than be all gung-ho, as this will simply cause tantrums and tears.
Keep lights low and keep a serene glow about your house as much as possible in the time leading up to bedtime. Try and encourage calm play, such as reading or telling stories, rather than running around. A relaxing bath is a good way to calm things down too.
Use gentle reminders
“It’s bedtime in ten minutes” gently reminds your little one that it is time to sleep soon, and you can do the same with the pre-bedtime routine too, such as “we’ll brush teeth in five minutes”.
The bedtime story is still the way to go
Reading a bedtime story together is yet another calming down tactic, but winding down in this way is a reassuring thing to do too, as you’re present as they’re falling asleep, and not left alone as soon as you decide to put them to bed. Once the story is finished, give a kiss and a cuddle, before saying goodnight.
Think about lighting
Turn lights out as you say goodnight but if your child is scared of the dark, as many are, think about using a dim nightlight, or even leave a hallway light on and close the door half ajar to enable some light to enter the room, without total pitch darkness.
Once you establish a bedtime routine it’s just a case of sticking to it.