Bedtime: Love it or Loathe it?
Which side of bedtime do you land on? Love it or Loathe it?
We know this is a loaded question for many reasons. Bedtime routines and experiences are as unique as children themselves. Some kids are sound sleepers who happily trot off to bed while others go into full fight mode at the mere suggestion of bedtime. Wherever your child is on this spectrum here are some thoughts/tips grounded in experience and research that might be of help!
The amount of sleep a child requires is unique to each individual.
Just like adults, different kids need different amounts of sleep to thrive day-to-day. Despite what others may tell you, that is the honest, medically proven fact.
The American Academy of Pediatrics* offers guidelines for how much sleep children typically need at various ages. However, it’s important to recognize that those guidelines are just averages and they include any sleep in a given 24 hours (that includes naps!)
If bedtime is a battle or your child is not sleeping through the night (and they are at the age to do so), take a step back to assess how much sleep your child seems to need at this phase of their development and aim for that. It can be trial and error so give yourself some grace as you figure it out!
Having a consistent routine is a huge help at bedtime.
Regardless of when they go to bed, HOW they go to bed matters! Having a consistent bedtime routine is crucial to a smooth transition from day to night; play to rest.
Bedtime routines are unique to each family. Some families relish in the quiet moments of bedtime for conversation and connecting while others find that a more independent routine works for their family.
Consider what works best for you and your child. Think through work schedules, school schedules, commitments and mealtimes. There are many things that will help shape what a bedtime routine will look like - don’t underestimate what your lifestyle and child’s temperament are already telling you is possible!
Do everything you can to stick with a bedtime routine that is as consistent as possible. Children thrive when they can predict routines -- especially those that are a part of the rhythm of their day.
How actively involved you are at bedtime is 100% up to you and what your child needs.
You’ve likely heard of the many ways to put your child to bed - co-sleeping, patting the back, reading stories, putting them down and walking out - and there is not one that is THE one to do.
Think through what works for you, the parent. Are you at your wits end by bedtime? Are you craving slowed down, quiet time with your child? Are you eager to get it done and get back to your other children, work, dinner or adult time?
Once you know what you are best suited for, start creating a routine that benefits you both. Know that there is no gold star or prize to be won for a successful bedtime. Trust your gut and do what works for your family.
And if you’re not the bedtime person in your house, that’s ok. We all bring something to the table. You can support your child’s bedtime routine in lots of ways throughout the day!
Consider what pre-bedtime routines might aid in getting ready for sleep.
Keep these areas in mind as you consider what might work best!
Bath time - could a nightly bath/shower help signal it’s almost bedtime?
Set a timer - whether it’s to give your child a heads-up that bedtime is coming or to signal how long bedtime should take, timers can be a huge help!
Give them a job! Kids can pick out their pajamas, arrange their pillows or choose a book or two. Giving children a role in the process can help alleviate some of the power struggle.
Support sleep behaviors - nightlights, sound machines, a lovey or blankie, monitoring the temperature of the room, limiting screen time before bed, soothing music - all can be helpful to support a healthy, sustainable sleep routine.
If it’s not working, reassess. Sometimes we get stuck in routines that just are not working. Don’t be afraid to change it up and try something new. We’ve all been there as parents. Sometimes what we are doing just isn’t working and it’s time to reconsider.
However you get there, sweet dreams to all the Workers & Players! Of course, we are at the ready to talk you through your sleep struggles or questions.
You know where to find us!
Email: hello @workandplayecc.com
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