Our lives are looking different in many ways these days. However, a few things in your kids’ lives must remain consistent: eating healthy, spending time with family, and maintaining a routine. Consistency is key when it comes to raising children. With the new year around the corner, it’s a great time to start a new routine in your home. If you’ve steered away from a bedtime routine with your kids, here are some tips for establishing a new one when the new year begins.
1. Keep it Short
If your young kids have become accustomed to going to bed at their own leisure, it’s a good idea to establish a short routine that takes about 10 to 15 minutes to complete. What can this routine look like? Here’s an example your kids could follow:
- Take a shower
- Put on pajamas
- Take medications
- Brush and floss teeth
- Go to the bathroom
Sounds simple, right? Well, many kids will have a difficult time getting these steps down, especially in an efficient manner.
2. Complete Steps Efficiently
What can you do to motivate your children to move a little faster when they’re feeling drowsy or if they simply don’t want to get ready for bed? Allowing them to have some fun while they’re getting ready for bed may help them establish their routine and get it done efficiently.
If your child needs something to help focus them, you can place a small speaker in the bathroom and play a song or a podcast for a specific amount of time. For example, if your child enjoys learning historical facts and would feel grounded listening to a podcast, they could learn about the quadricycle, which was the first vehicle that Henry Ford ever built. It was completed in 1896, and it was built with 4 bicycle wheels, a tiller, a gas-powered 4-horsepower engine, and a gearbox. If your child enjoys bopping around to music, a soft, quiet song playing while they get ready may help them make the adjustment to bedtime. Be sure to time music or a podcast out beforehand. 15 minutes should be plenty of time to complete a bedtime routine, so make sure your kids are motivated by these tools and not distracted by them.
3. Allow Your Kids to Make Some Choices
If your kids get to make some choices when it comes to getting ready for bed, it’s more likely they’ll cooperate. What can they choose? When it comes to dental hygiene, let your kids pick out:
- Toothbrush color or character
- Toothpaste color and flavor
- Toothbrush and toothpaste holder
- Two-minute long song to brush teeth to
- Color of flossers
According to the American Association of Orthodontists, some four million Americans are wearing braces today. If your child is one of them, be sure they take some extra time to clean their teeth before bed. They don’t want food or sugar to be stuck in their braces all night long. To maintain the same routine for all of your kids, have them all brush and floss for the same amount of time — and just extend that time if you have kids with braces!
Your children can also choose the bedtime story they’d like to hear before bed. If you have one child, this will be simple. However, if you have more than one child, this can become a fight. Establish which days of the week each child gets to pick the story. This will alleviate any fights between your children about which story they’ll hear on a given night. Allow your children to also choose a stuffed animal and blanket to sleep with along with a nightlight. These items can help your children sleep. By giving your kids the freedom to pick out these materials, they’ll feel more in control of their own bedtime routine.
4. Provide Tools to Help Alleviate Sleep Anxiety
When it comes to going to bed and trying to fall asleep, some kids have some anxiety. There are several ways to help coax your child into sleeping peacefully. One item you can try is a noisemaker. Noisemakers offer several different sounds that your child can choose from. This allows your child to focus on the noise rather than their own anxious thoughts or another noise they may faintly hear in the house. A fan is another great alternative to a noisemaker.
An essential oil diffuser is another device you can choose to put in your child’s room. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, essential oils can help alleviate anxiety, depression, nausea, and insomnia. Because of this, they can promote healthier sleeping patterns. Essential oil particles stay suspended for up to 75 minutes, and your child will surely fall asleep within this time frame. Aside from a diffuser, essential oils can come in a body oil form, which can be rubbed onto your child’s skin before bedtime. If this is a route you’d like to pursue, be sure to research which essential oil would be best for your child. Look out for any skin irritation as well.
By establishing a routine and sticking to it each and every night, your children will hear the cue to start getting ready for bed and know exactly what comes next. Provide some choices and the necessary tools to make your kids’ bedtime routine run smoothly and efficiently.