All parents know that routine is the best way to get children to bed smoothly. Whether your child’s routine includes a bath, book, songs or prayer, ideally you’ve found something that works. But as for our 3-year-old, we never know when our seamless nights will be interrupted by a cold or a growth spurt or a simple curiosity for, “Mama, I heard something. What’s that noise?”
He’ll do anything to stay awake.
Here’s some reminders on how to manage a peaceful evening — and not just for your child, but for you, too! Parents respond well to routine just like children, and a bedtime ritual should be something for you to look forward to with your child, not just another stressful night. It’s possible, and it’s exactly how we all should be ending our days: in gratitude and in peace.
Set a time, and declare it each night as bedtime. Our days are busy. Whether you have one child or multiple, both the child and the parent have schedules that keep us on our toes or, at the very least, a grocery list or beautiful weather to keep up with. We all have things to do! But there is reconciliation in this chaos, and it is bedtime. Choose a time, and then spend the next 15-30 minutes doing the exact thing every night. Do not interrupt bedtime routine with a playdate or a project, etc. Once you’ve declared that it’s time to start getting ready for bed, do only that. This time might include an evening snack, a book, a little bit of a movie, a song, a bath and PJs. Either way, allow this little window of your chaotic day to be familiar, something to strive for and settle into and a time to wind down. Together.
Talk about your day. Even though I’m always quick to ask about my son’s day as soon as I pick him up from school, this bedtime conversation is a special one. Once my son is in bed and cozy under the covers, my husband and I sit next to him, and we all give thanks. We tell our child all the good that happened to us that day, and then we ask him what things in his day made him happy. And we always learn something new! It’s incredibly endearing, but it also leaves my son with positive thoughts as he falls asleep.
Keep goodnights brief. Once you’ve said goodnight, don’t linger. If it helps, let your child know that you will check on them in a little while, but that now is the time to close their eyes and fall asleep. Remind them of the love and safety that will be with them through the night, but give them the responsibility to fall asleep on their own. Inevitably, my son always sneaks out for a bathroom break or the infamous drink of water, but I never stay in his room after these interruptions. It’s “Back to bed!” with a positive and warm yet affirming voice.
And then it’s time for you to relax, too. Another day gone, you did it!
About the Author
Angela Tewalt is a writer, storyteller and mother to two boys. She shares parenting stories and inspiration in Guidepost Parent.
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