Bedtimes can be disastrous for some parents. With refusals to cooperate to outright screaming the house down, it can be a time that a lot of parent’s dread.
So here are 5 top tips to help bedtimes run a bit more smoothly:
1- Do the same routine in the same order every night. While this may be boring to you as parents, it really helps your children feel more secure at bedtime. They will always know what’s coming next and so there will be no shocks which may lead to upheaval. It’s important that anyone who does bedtime (mum, dad, grandparent, nanny etc) knows which order the routine is in so can be all singing off the same song-sheet.
2- Set boundaries and limits. Toddlers and pre-schoolers are the champions of stalling tactics when they don’t want to go to sleep. They’ll ask for more books or songs, suddenly want to tell you all about their day or ask any (and all) questions to prolong bedtime. So it’s important to set boundaries so they don’t waste time and then become overtired. For example, they can have 1 book and 2 songs before bed. Stick to these same boundaries every night so they don’t think that because they’ve got away with more on one night, they can keep pushing for more and more every night after.
3- Give them some choice. Toddlers and pre-schoolers don’t often get many choices or control in their lives and this can lead to them getting frustrated. So allowing them some choice at bedtime can make them feel more empowered and help bedtimes run smoother. So let them choose which book to read (I’d narrow it down to a few options so it’s not overwhelming) or what pyjamas they’re going to wear that night.
4- Make bedtime fun! Bedtime doesn’t have to be super boring and just something to endure- you can make it fun along the way. Using sticker charts to check off which part of the routine you’ve done can be fun and motivating for them. Or use timers to help along the way- I had an old family I used to nanny who used the Mission Impossible soundtrack after bathtime so they kids had to get into their pyjamas quickly- and they loved it!
5- Make time for connection. Bedtime issues often arise because of your children’s need for emotional security and connection, so it’s important for some children to have their ‘emotional tanks’ topped up before bedtime. Have some laughs during their bath and lots of cuddles while they’re having a story and you will probably find that bedtimes run a lot more smoothly.
If you’re having bedtime battles, why not try some of these tips and see how it goes, and let me know how they go!