How to End the Day Well with Bed Time
Security of a predictable parent
Even if you have never watched the TV series “The Waltons” you’ve probably heard that before.
“Goodnight John-Boy” is the epitome of a family settling down for the night. Safe and secure in their home, surrounded by loving family.
Studies show over and over that a firm but loving parent, leading the way through life, produces secure children. Confident in the world, assured that they are loved.
That doesn’t mean they don’t fight it.
I understand. I don’t like to go to bed either.
It feels like giving up. Ending the day means no more fun. Well, for me, it means no more tasks get crossed off the to-do list.
What can a parent do to smooth the way toward one last peaceful hour with their child?
How can we create memories of warmth and nurture – instead of strife and arguing?
Let’s get practical
Be the parent.
There is no point in arguing and cajoling.
We are in charge.
If we stick to the plan, eventually peace will rein.
A defined routine gives children a sense of security and confidence.
To keep up your enthusiasm during “Project Dependable” trade off with your spouse.
Lauren at Military Wife and Mom wrote a post on the importance of sharing the bedtime routine.
Plan a chunk of time into the evening so you can move gracefully from play time to bedtime.
If your child is waking up at night (beyond babyhood), they might thrive with a small protein-rich snack before bed.
Remember the tenacity of children
If you begin it, you will continue it.
Staying with a child until they fall asleep and other elaborate bedtime rituals will come back to bite you in the behind.
Imagine how charmed you will feel kissing all 200 of your child’s stuffed animals to sleep – on the 45th night.
Count the cost.
Routine can be effective without being complicated.
Tools for bed time success
Routines are made for breaking
Parenting is an art.
And like most art, rules are made for breaking.
Occasionally, deviate from the routine, and let them stay up late.
This is what makes sleepovers, holidays, and a once-a-year bedtime ice cream run so special.
Cool, clean sheets in the summer
And warm, cozy bedding in winter.
When I crawl into a bed of tangled sheets and wonky blankets, the night does not go well.
Children may not know it, but they appreciate a cared for bed too.
Blue light emanating from screens messes with our brain.
I chalked this up to voodoo medicine until my doctor told me to turn off all the screens two hours before my bedtime. I didn’t have any problem getting to sleep, but I couldn’t stay asleep.
After doing a little research, I’m a believer.
It’s easy to put a blue-light filter on computer screens, smartphones, and other portable devices.
TV is trickier.
There are blue-light filtering glasses on the market. Consumer Reports rated the Uvex Skyper Safety Eyewear (orange) to be the best at blocking blue light. They run about $8 on Amazon. We found it easier and cheaper to turn off the TV and read.
(Some of the links in this post may be “affiliate links”. This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive a small commission. That’s what keeps the site up and running. Regardless, I only recommend products and services I use personally and believe will add value.)
Adults matter too
When planning your child’s bedtime routine don’t forget about yourself.
Adult brains benefit from the cue to wind down also.
When our children were old enough to play outside alone, we discovered a new challenge.
Doors, windows, cars, water hoses were all fair game. We would be under the delusion that all of these areas were secure, only to wake up the next morning and find the garage door open or water trickling out of the sprinkler. Just because I didn’t go out to the car to find my lost book – and leave all the doors unlocked – didn’t mean someone else didn’t.
We came up with a “Damage Control” list. Each night we quickly run down a checklist. By sending each person to double-check a different area it only takes a few minutes. It has had the added benefit of making our kids more responsible for their actions (or inactions!).
This evening ritual also went a long way toward helping us drift off to sleep.
Have you ever sat up in bed and asked, “Did we lock the back door?” Of course, you have to run down and check. This mini-aerobic activity does not encourage sleep.
Check out the Sleep Better: Tuck in Your House checklist.
Get the practicalities out of the way. Then do something nice for yourself and have a better nights sleep.
Being the boss
Being a parent isn’t always fun.
Sometimes we have to make a choice to be unpopular to be the anchor in securing our family needs.
If you’ve slipped into loose bedtime habits, it may take some time to change direction, but if you stick to your guns the peaceful evenings on the other side will be well worth the effort.
And lest you think bedtime rituals end at the door of childhood, Michelle wrote a post for Proverbial Homemaker on the 5 Reasons You Should Be Tucking Your Teens In At Night.
What tips do you have for a smooth bedtime routine? If you have a bedtime related blog post, I invite you to link to it.