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Set a bedtime routine for kids

How to create a bedtime routine for kids that’s hassle-free AND enjoyable

Oh, “bedtime routine”, how these two words give me chills down my spine. And there isn’t a single parent whom I met that hasn’t had the same feeling at least once in their lives. The good news is that a bedtime routine for kids has so, so many benefits opposed to a chaotic “go into your bedroom. NOW!” strategy. I cannot state it enough: children LOVE predictability. Their minds are chaotic enough and the last thing they need is a schedule that brings more uncertainty.

But let’s start with the beginning.

Many studies have shown how important it is for children to have a very strict bedtime routine. This article offers all the insights you need if you want to dig deeper into science.  We’ll stick with the key things to take away.

First, let me tell you a short story. When my now 3 years-old little girl was only a baby, she used to wake up multiple times during the night. Like A LOT. But I knew that it was all normal because babies have different sleep cycles than we, adults, have. Plus, I was breastfeeding her and every time she felt just a little bit uncomfortable or thirsty or hungry, she would just literally attach herself to my breast. But that’s a different story.

The thing is, we kept the same chaotic schedule for a long, long time. We stopped breastfeeding when she was almost 2, hoping that this would end the night time wakening. It has, to some extent, but the problem was still there. I just couldn’t identify it.

When her third birthday got closer, I started to think that I might as well do something about her bedtime routine, because it was super chaotic and it drained me of all my energy. Plus, she was about to start Nursery, so that kind of forced me into researching everything I could about bedtime routine for kids.

So here are the top things that have helped me tremendously. And, I’ll tell you what, my little girl turned from an untamed dragon to a sleepy little angel. And I bet this new bedtime routine has everything to do with it!

1. Create a consistent schedule for your bedtime routine for kids

Children need to sleep at roughly the same time every single night to get the most out of their bedtime routine. Consistency is key here. Earlier bedtimes seem to work better, especially if they have school to attend the next morning. Just like adults, they need enough sleep to function properly. For instance, I feel like a dinosaur ready to roar at the faintest sign of human interaction if I don’t get my 8 hours of sleep every night. No wonder your child feels the same!

So make sure you always put your kids to bed at the same time every single night. In order to do this, you need to begin earlier than your programmed sleep time. Which brings us to the second piece of our puzzle:

2. Begin the bedtime routine 30 minutes before sleep time

That is to say, start brushing teeth, get into pyjamas and anything else you’ll do with your kids on bedtime 30 minutes before you kiss their foreheads and they (hopefully) dive into sleep. This way you avoid prolonging the time it takes for them to actually get the sleep they need. Why 30 minutes? Because you don’t want to make any longer – it will only fuel them up with energy, but not shorter either – it won’t leave you with enough minutes to squeeze in all the things you need to do.

3. Bedtime stories and no screen time!

Mum reading bedtime stories to her children

Bedtime stories are an amazing way to help your children gently fall asleep

Oh, my favourite part of the bedtime routine! Books are an amazing tool to help your child dive into sleep nicely, calmly, without resisting. Especially if you choose the right stories. There are so many to choose from and you don’t even need to buy a dozen of books to do that. A visit to your local library will definitely fill up your arms with amazing bedtime books for children! At the same time, cut out the screen time before going to bed, I mean it.

A huge part of making my daughter’s bedtime routine so, so easy and enjoyable has been implementing this rule: “No screens at least 1 hour before bedtime!” The reason is easy to predict: gadgets only make the children’s brains more active and it takes a while for them to really unplug. We had nights when my little girl would wake up at night, screaming about things she’s seen in the cartoons. That was enough!

So gently switch the smartphones with books and you’ll see results, I promise. Try out this strategy to make your child get into the habit of reading or being read to.

Bedtime should be a pleasure in a couple of weeks if you follow these simple steps. Have you already tried any of them? How does your bedtime routine look like?


Until next time,

Cristina Guraliuc storyteller

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