One thing that I hear a lot from parents is “how do I make bedtime run more smoothly?” and “. Bedtime is a common source of struggle but, luckily, I have 3 tips that I give parents to help make the bedtime easier for the whole family!
#1: Electronics & screen time. Ending screen time at least 1 hour before you start your bedtime routine is key! Studies have shown that the blue light emitted from screens actually stimulates our brain, therefore, we are ramping our kids up before we try to put them to bed! That sounds like a recipe for disaster. Turning off screen time and getting into the habit of having our daily reading time, bath time, or just checking in with each other about our days. This can be key in helping your child’s brain unwind, decompress, and begin preparing for sleep. Along with this tip, turning off overhead lights and using lamps instead is also helpful in bringing our nervous systems closer to a regulated state and ready for sleep.
#2: Establish a routine. The more consistency in your bedtime routine, the easier the transition will be. During the one hour before bed with no electronics, create a routine for your family. I suggest things like: 20 minutes of reading, bath time, story time, and peaks and pits. Peaks and pits is a technique that I’ve used with my own family over the years and it involves everyone taking a turn telling their peak (or high point) of the day and then their pit (or low point) of the day. This gets kids used to taking turns, and helps create a pathway for empathy.
#3: Transition Time. Making sure that you are giving your kids updates about how much time they have is key. You don’t want to overdo it by giving minute by minute updates, but rather larger chunks of time such as “Megan, we have 20 minutes left until it’s time to turn electronics off…Megan, in 10 minutes it will be time to turn off your tablet…Megan, we have 5 minutes until it’s time to turn off your tablet…Megan, in 1 minute it will be time to turn off your tablet and pick your book…Megan, it’s time to put away your tablet and choose your book.” Now, this may seem like a lot of reminders for your child. This is an individualized process and it’s important to remember that some children will need all of these reminders and for other children, having a lot of reminders becomes annoying and bothersome. You have to find what works best for both you and your child. In giving this much transition time, we are doing several things for your child’s brain. The first thing that we’re doing is helping them prepare for a change in environment. By giving them a time reminder, you are helping them with time awareness as they are learning what 10 minutes feels like in their body. Some kids over time will actually be able to tell you how many minutes are left, which is helpful if you’re forgetful like me! You are also teaching them time management skills as they will begin to internally process questions like, “Do I have time to start a new game if we only have 5 minutes left?” This level of insight is something that is often overlooked but by using transitions, you are helping your child learn valuable skills.
Last minute needs. Make sure your child is set up for success at bedtime by giving them a drink of water and having them use the bathroom before climbing under the covers.
I hope this information is helpful and useful and, most importantly, relieves some of the stress and challenges that accompany bedtime! If you want more tips or want to read a blog about a specific topic, feel free to message me on the contacts page or text any time. Thanks for reading!