Sleep. It’s what every parent wants for their kids, especially at a young age. We understand that the art of getting your little one to rest their eyes is often a hard thing to master. If you’ve experienced pre-sleep tantrums from your child, have no fear. We’ve got some great tips to get you started on making bedtime for your little one a hassle free event.
Routine, routine, routine! You may have learned that routine is essential in the day-to-day operations of a preschooler, and bedtime is no exception! Below you’ll find some great examples of pre-bedtime routines you can establish with your child to help assist in their bedtime routine. Choose a couple activities that you think would work best with your child and stick to it every night. Eventually, your child will begin to take notice of these routines and know what to expect. Routine creates order and order is calming to a child and helps enable them to have better control of their environment and circumstances.
Here are some bedtime routines you can try at home:
- Give your child a signal: To signal when it is time for your child to start preparing for bed, play a silly song you both can dance to. Once the song is over, all other activities are done and it is now time to begin preparing for bedtime. This should be a song that is not sung or listened to in other times of the day.
Here’s an example of a fun bedtime song you can use to help your little one shake out their remaining energy.
- Bathroom routine: When your child goes into the bathroom to use the potty, change into pajamas, wash hands, brush hair, brush teeth and/or other activities, set up a routine of the order in which these activities are done. If one activity takes longer due to your child enjoying it too much or not wanting to move to the next activity, set a simple kitchen timer for a minute and let them do the current activity until the timer rings, when they need to move on to the next task.
- Do a calming activity with your child: In our world where we are constantly barraged by computer screens, fast-paced life and less and less face-to-face time with our loved ones, our minds are constantly running. Your child needs help to calm down their bodies and prepare for a restful night’s sleep. This activity might be to read picture books together for 10 minutes or rubbing each other’s backs or even telling each other a silly story that happened that day. You could even get creative and place glow in the dark stars on the walls and ceiling. Turn off the lights and lay on the floor and count the stars and talk about how God created so many beautiful things, including stars and people!
- Talk with your child about something in their day: Ask them questions. Be excited and engaged in what their little minds are learning and exploring. Tell them how much they are loved by you and others like their teachers and siblings. Tell them how much God loves them and specifically what you are proud of them for.
- Pray with your child: For peace and restful sleep. For other concerns they might have. Don’t ever be afraid to pray for their stuffed animal or something else that may seem a bit silly. Their tender hearts are exploring and God cares about our cares, even when our toys are missing or hurt.
- Sing or use music to set a calming mood: White noise can also be used for this purpose. Make sure the volume is not too loud.
- Use essential oils: For many adults and children alike, essential oils such as Lavender can help sleep tremendously. Put a little oil on your child’s earlobes to bring calm and rest to your child.
- Pray for your child after she or he is asleep: Proverbs 22:6 says we should “train up our children in the way they should go.” Part of this commandment is to pray not only with our children but for them. Pray they rest well, that their brains will grow and mature and their little lives will learn more and more about our Creator.
- Make sure your child is getting enough sleep: Is your child getting at least 8 hours of sleep per night? Your son or daughter may need more like 10 hours, depending on growth spurts, age, genetic makeup and other factors.
- Make sure your child goes to bed the same time every night: Once again, by creating routine, including the time you go to sleep, is very important. You may even find that your child will ask to start getting ready for bed before it is time. By having a child go to bed at 6pm one day, 8pm the next and 10pm the next, only confuses and frustrates the child, let alone throws off their sleep cycle.
- Is your child drinking enough water and eating lots of fruits and veggies? When your child is eating healthy meals with a balance of complex carbohydrates, fruits, veggies, lean protein and plenty of water, their body is running on clean energy and are actually tired at the end of the day, instead of crashing from a sugar high.
- Is your child growing or cutting teeth? Teething and growth spurts can often be causes of lack of sleep or fussiness. Take a deep breath and give an extra dose of grace to your little ones, as their bodies hurt and many times cannot express it. Sometimes it just helps to get some extra cuddles or a popsicle/ice cube to soothe those gums.
These tips are a starting point to help your child get the rest he or she needs in order to better explore and learn with their environment as they develop. Comment below for any other tips or questions you may have!