The studies are done and the results are in: Children with healthy sleep patterns have higher IQ’s and perform better in school.
(It’s true, you can google that! http://parenting.thesfile.com/the-brain/sleeps-impact-on-the-brain/sleep-and-intelligence/
I have a follow-up theory to that: Parents who have children with healthy sleep patterns are happier people. I’m not sure there’s a ton of scientific research to back that theory up, but I’d be a grouchy mess if I didn’t have a few hours of quiet at the end of each day. Establishing a bedtime routine is easier than you might think, even if you’re starting late or completely new to following a bedtime ritual. Kids like the comfort of routine and it’s never too late to start!
Taking bedtime from a battle to bliss isn’t a big mystery, but it does require a solid routine, consistency and a strong resolve to not give in. Establish a routine and stick with it. It’s worth it! It’s important that you develop your routine around your family’s needs. Make it work for you. Write it down. Post it on your bathroom mirror. Do whatever you have to do but be consistent.
Here’s a peek at our current bedtime routine(s). It works for our family. You can borrow it, you can tweak it, you can completely overhaul it. Totally up to you. Depending on the age of your little one(s), you can incorporate their last feeding (baby), one last trip to the bathroom (toddler), journal time (older child). The key is, it has to work for you and your family.
For my little twins who are 4 years old, my goal for getting them in bed with lights out is 7:30pm. We start our bedtime rituals at about 6:30pm with a bath. As long as they are out of the tub by 7:00pm, we’re on track without having to rush.
- Bath Time
- Brush Teeth
- Story Time: I always read one story, sometimes a few. My only rule here is that they must be still and quiet during this. We all pile into bed together for the story. It’s a fun time to cuddle and calm down before bed.
- Prayer: I pray over each of my children every night. As a Christian Mom, I believe that modeling prayer out loud to our children teaches them how easy it is to talk to God. I’ve personally seen that each of my kids have developed a very natural prayer life.
- Song: I’m not claiming I am a great singer by any means, but singing to my little ones makes me feel kind of like a rock star. It’s a sweet part of bedtime that everybody looks forward to. Sometimes I take requests and sometimes I share my favorite old-timey hymns with them. Often, they all sing with me and that makes this Mama’s heart soar.
- One Last Trip to the Bathroom
- Bed: Tucked in, hugged and kissed, reminded to stay in bed and sprinkled with sweet dreams.
Easy as pie. Right? Well, most of the time. Here’s the hard part. You must look at this like a business transaction once they are in bed. No refunds or returns (with the exception of sickness). Stand firm. It’s bedtime. Bed is where they need to be. Be prepared with consequences ahead of time for when they test you. (Notice I said “when” and not “if”.) Well rested children are happy, healthy children. If your little guys are having a hard time falling asleep at night or you feel like they are just nocturnal by nature, consider the environment in the hours leading up to bedtime. Watching TV, playing on a computer, hand-held devices, sugar, caffeine too much stimulus can make it harder for your little ones to wind down enough to fall asleep.
For my older twins (who just turned 10!) it’s pretty much the same, although, of course, they have a later bedtime and some quiet time before the lights go out. They still join us for story time and the song, which I think is magical considering their age. I give them about half an hour in their beds with the lights on so they can quietly talk to each other, read or write in their journal. Having that little bit of time being quiet and in their beds helps them wind down but also it gives them some time to talk about their day with each other. I suspect that when they are older, those nightly talks will be cherished memories. I go in and tell them goodnight, do hugs and kisses and prayers and turn their light off.
That’s it. Kids in bed. Lights off. Seacrest out.
It’s still early enough in the evening to clean the house, pack lunches for the next day, finish the laundry, start the dishwasher, make a cup of coffee and enjoy the rest of the night! (Or, make that cup of coffee and fall asleep in the chair. Whichever. No judgement here.)