Establishing and then sticking to a routine might make your day-to-day life easier, but it has even more benefits than you might realize. It can help build healthy habits, ease anxious thoughts, and strengthen one’s resiliency during times of stress.
While this is true for both children and adults, it turns out that routines are especially important for youngsters. Today we’re taking a look at why, and how to create a bedtime routine.
Making the Case for a Bedtime Routine
Children need more sleep than adults, even though it might not feel that way to sleep-deprived parents of newborns or toddlers. Nevertheless, there is scientific evidence that children who don’t get enough rest are at greater risk for obesity, high blood pressure, depression, and behavioral issues. It can even help them learn better.
You have probably seen that when your child hasn’t slept enough, they can be a real bear to deal with the next day. It’s the same for you as the parent as well. This is the other crucial reason to implement a bedtime routine for your child. Your mood, mental health, and ability to be a good parent all depend on getting regular kid-free time.
In addition, the structure of an evening routine helps your child feel grounded and safe. Doing the same activities in a predictable order signals that it’s time to transition from day to night. It’s a great opportunity to teach your children how to relax and soothe themselves, a skill that will serve them well all their life.
Elements of an Evening Routine
So, what should you include in your pre-bed preparation activities? Following this checklist in order isn’t as important as making sure the routine is actually a routine. It shouldn’t vary from night to night. Here are some suggestions for structure:
- A light snack, glass of milk, or cup of warm milk
- A bath, perhaps with lavender essential oil
- Brushing teeth
- Getting into pajamas
- Saying goodnight to other family members and pets
- Gentle bedtime yoga, stretching, or meditation
- Snuggling or rocking together
- Discussing the previous day’s events or what’s to come tomorrow
- Reading storybooks, telling a story, or singing lullabies
- Prayers, if your family is religious. Alternatively, you could ask your child to name a few things to be grateful for
- Tuck-in, one last hug, and lights out
Another vital step is ensuring that you stay consistent. Don’t let your child drag out bedtime with endless requests for water, reassurance, goodnight kisses, and so on. That will set a precedent you’ll come to regret.
A Soothing Environment
All of us sleep better in a dark, quiet room. Keep the temperature on the low side, but provide plenty of blankets (or a warm, safe set of footie pajamas or sleep sack for a young baby). A little aromatherapy is an excellent choice, as is a nightlight.
Experts discourage the use of music or TV as “company” while the child falls asleep, but a white noise machine can be helpful. Also, don’t forget to tuck your youngster’s favorite stuffed animal or lovey in right alongside them.
Your Little One Will Be Asleep in No Time
With a solid bedtime routine in place, both you and your child will feel safe and confident about moving from day to night. Sticking to a schedule and setting boundaries builds a wonderful foundation that will help them grow up happy and healthy.
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