It’s no wonder that bedtime often erupts into a battle ground some nights. This is when parents are the most tired, (kids too but they would never admit defeat) and kids are the most resistant. I know that feeling of wanting, and needing, the kids to go to bed so that my night can start and I can either sit still for 5 minutes or start the next round of to do’s before falling into my own bed.
Children need to learn how to unwind, relax, settle down and calm themselves. It’s our job as parents to both teach and model this essential life skill.
It took me far too long to realize that yelling upstairs, “you need to settle down and get ready for bed” just didn’t work.
We’ve all read about tricks like, having a routine, dimming the lights, having soft music on and plugging in the night lights – all of which I think ARE helpful in the process of supporting our busy children as they calm down from their days.
Here’s a few new ones to try if bedtime has become a battle ground:
Goodnights & Gratitudes
While you’re tucking your kids in, laying beside them or sitting on the edge of their beds, walk through the day you’ve just had and be grateful for some of the best moments. “I’m so glad it was sunny today. It was awesome to see grandma & grandpa today. I had such a good time at recess this morning. I loved our dinner tonight. (too far?) I’m so excited that we have a dog as our pet…” There’s SO much to be grateful for, even after a rough day, and teaching our children to notice the small things and smile about the little things will impact the way they approach their days. Once you’ve remembered all your moments, and be sure to share yours with your children, it’s time to say goodnight to your day. “Goodnight Wednesday, thanks for being so fun! Goodnight Thursday, you were pretty tough and I’m so glad you’re done!”
It’s hard to suddenly lay still on your bed after running, jumping, skipping, spinning, laughing, rolling, playing and MOVING all day long. This is a really fun way for kids to ‘say goodnight’ to their bodies and settle each little moving part down for a great sleep. Starting with either your wiggly toes or the hair on top of your head – think about it, concentrate on it, thank it for the role it plays in your day, be grateful that it’s there and it works, and then say goodnight, one part at a time.
(There’s a great book, called Parts, by Tedd Arnold that could accompany this and keep things light and fun for your kids. It’s quite funny, and just gross enough that parents can grin and kids will LOVE it!)
Here’s a link to learn more about Bodyscans – http://www.mindful.org/the-body-scan-practice –
Build a Bedtime Routine
Routine, routine, routine! So important, but often SO hard to stick to. In our house it’s hockey practices, dance classes or late meetings that throw off our ‘routine.’ However, even if things need to shift by half an hour or so, try and establish a routine (an order or sequence of steps) that remains the same. This creates a rhythm for kids that removes any uncertainty, can minimize anxiety and sets kids up to succeed by ensuring that they complete all the steps. PJ’s on, room tidied, teeth brushed, clothes out for the next day, read, night lights on, music on, bodyscan/story/gratitudes and goodnights!