This guest post was written by Elizabeth of Tired Mom Supermom. She is the mom of two and has a passion for helping all children reach their human potential. She enjoys helping parents raise confident and healthy kids by explaining how to handle situations using positive parenting.
With everything going on in the world these days, many parents are struggling to keep a consistent schedule for their families. This is leading to many routines being out of whack. After a pattern of late nights and slacking on bedtime rules, it can be difficult to get children back into a healthy sleep routine. As we know, if children don’t get enough sleep consistently, they may experience physical and mental health issues like anxiety.
It happens! We are all human. The good thing is, we can get our kids back into the habit of their old sleep routine that worked so well before. While the process might take some time to adjust, you can return to a consistent schedule and bring peace back into your home with the following tips.
The Importance Of Routine
Bedtime routines can be life-changing for the entire family. They help families get organized so they can get the difficult tasks out of the way and know exactly when they can have fun family time. While each family’s routines may look a bit differently, many families have routines for mornings, bathtime, bedtime, mealtime, housework and chores, and routines around holiday time.
Family life tends to run more smoothly when routines are in place, but there is more to it than just that. Routines help children understand their family’s values. When you focus on creating a routine around an event, children will start to understand the importance of that event. Routines can also make it easier for children to deal with changes in their life, such as getting a new family member, going through a divorce, or facing illness or death of a family member. Routines are great for children because they help them feel safe, learn responsibility, and develop healthy habits, even during challenging and stressful times.
How To Re-Establish A Routine
Here are four key steps to take in order to re-establish your family’s bedtime routine:
- Make Bedtime Earlier. If your kids have gotten used to staying up late recently, it is time to get them to bed earlier. It is important to get your children to sleep earlier long before you actually need them to get up early in the morning, such as the first day of school. When kids are about to start school again, they get anxious and that will make it harder for them to try to follow a new bedtime. Instead, make the transition to an earlier bedtime smooth by shifting the bedtime in smaller increments, such as 15 or 30 minutes each night for several in a row. We have to train their bodies to get used to the new bedtime, and that may take some time.
- Make Sure They Get Enough Sleep. Sleep-deprived children are not happy children. Whether you are homeschooling or sending your kids to a classroom, make sure your kids get enough sleep so they can learn properly and stay balanced emotionally. If you are not sure how much sleep your children need, check out this guide from WebMD.
- Minimize Electronics Before Bedtime. Experts say that children shouldn’t have electronics for at least one hour before going to sleep. I’ve seen this in my own kids, and we definitely have a much smoother bedtime when I restrict screen time before bedtime. The flashing lights are super stimulating, which can make it difficult for children (and adults) to calm down and fall asleep easily.
- Set Up A Clear Routine. If you don’t have a routine yet, consider starting one. Routines are key to getting children to sleep easily and sleeping through the night. We like to start our bedtime routine with a bedtime snack. This is usually something light like toast or a bowl of cereal. I find that this bedtime snack is so important because the kids are growing and always hungry. After the snack, it’s time to put on pajamas and brush teeth. After teeth are clean and pajamas are on, the kids go and pick out a book to read. This reading time allows the kids to settle down and create a calm environment in the bedroom. After reading a book together, it’s lights out and goodnight! For you, the routine may look different, but the important thing to remember is to make the routine consistent and simple enough that you can actually stick to it.
Bedtime Routine Do’s And Don’ts
Here are some basic do’s and don’ts for bedtime routines to keep in mind:
- DO start at a young age
- DO make the routine age-appropriate
- DO keep the routine short and simple to follow
- DO be consistent
- DO offer choices (ex: red pajamas or blue pajamas)
- DO remind kids to use the bathroom
- DON’T drag out the bedtime routine
- DON’T allow stimulating activities before bedtime (ex: screen time)
- DON’T assume your child will outgrow bad sleep habits
Bedtime routines are not difficult to come up with, but they do take some time before they start to truly work, so the important thing is to not give up! Even if your bedtime routine has been out of whack for several weeks or even months, it is possible to get things back on track with a little patience, persistence, and creativity.
How do you keep your kids’ bedtime routine on track?