A Positive Bedtime Routine: How it can help you have a better parent-child relationship
When you had your first child you were probably inundated with advice on how best to raise them. You would have received advice on anything from breastfeeding to discipline and everything in-between. You may have noticed that at the core of all of this advice was that fabulous seven letter word: routine. Routines, in our opinion, are the key to keeping both mum and bub happy (and – let’s face it – sane). You may not have known how important a positive routine is to securing both you and bub a full night’s sleep, but we are about to tell.
So just what is a “positive bedtime routine”? Well … it is a routine which, at its essence, involves calming the child whilst preparing them for bed. It is designed as a way of making the child feel ready for bed as well as relaxing their busy mind which will aid in them falling and staying, asleep. In the long term establishing a positive bedtime routine will help the child fall asleep easier as well as help them form good habits which they can carry through to teenage and adult years.
A positive bedtime routine starts approximately 20 minutes before bed and incorporates all of the usual nightly activities such as bathing, brushing teeth and story-time. Broken down it would look something like this (using 7:30pm as the desired bedtime):
7:10pm: child finishes shower/bath
7:12pm: child brushes teeth
7:15pm: child goes into their room and engages in a quiet activity such as reading or colouring
7:20pm: you read to your child or tell them a story
7:29pm: you give your child a cuddle and kiss and wish them sweet dreams.
Obviously, your routine may deviate from those activities and may not follow that strict of a timeline. However, it works well to show the types of activities which your child should be carrying out before bed. Note that there is no screen time, as studies have shown that the bright lights from either a tv or tablet screen actually awaken the brain. That would be counterproductive to what a positive bedtime routine is trying to achieve!
A positive bedtime routine also helps when you are trying to settle your child for an earlier bedtime. Say, for example, your child is usually ready for sleep at about 9pm but you would rather they go to sleep at 7:30pm. You can begin by implementing this routine for the 9pm bedtime and then gradually (by using 10-minute increments) bring the routine forward every couple of days. So for the beginning of the second week of the routine, start it at 8:30pm so the child goes to bed by 8:50pm. Then three days later start the routine at 8:20pm. Eventually, you will have coached the child’s body clock to be ready for sleep by 7:30pm.
So, if you are struggling to get your child off to bed or they are the type of child who repeatedly gets out of bed for a drink, or to retrieve a toy etc, try implementing the positive bedtime routine. You can adjust it to incorporate having a drink or collecting the toy within the 20 minutes. Eventually, the routine will make the stress of bedtime lessen and will improve your parent-child relationship.
For more information on positive bedtime routines, please do not hesitate to contact KIDS. Alternatively, complete the form below, and one of our friendly team members will contact you.
Raising Children.Net.Au, (2016). “Positive Bedtime Routines” [online]