4 Tips For A Successful Nighttime Routine
4 Tips for a successful nighttime routine
Nighttimes can be tough; for parents and preschool-age children alike. Kids find it so unfair that they’re sent to bed earlier than everyone else. Why should they miss out on all the fun?! Or they might be too excited to sleep. Or they might be scared. In any case, they hate hearing the command to go to bed, and they’ll do whatever they can to stay out of it. Obviously, this presents a lot of problems for their weary parents. They’ve spent ages getting them settled, cajoling them to brush their teeth and get to bed…only to have their tot totter out 15 minutes later. It’s a frustrating thing. You know how much your kids, especially preschool-age children – and you – need sleep…so you don’t want either of you missing out. Luckily, there are a few quick tricks you can try to help your child stay put in bed until morning. Here are 4 tips for a successful nighttime routine.
1. Create a soothing bedroom environment for your preschool-age child
If your child’s bedroom is all bare walls and bright lights, it’s no wonder they don’t want to settle there! These things just enhance wakefulness, feed into fears and make it next to impossible for your little one to relax.
On the other hand, creating a kind of sleep sanctuary can work wonders. And it’s not hard to do. Simply pick out a cozy duvet in a warm color (or let your child pick their own) and adorn their bed with whatever cuddly toys are necessary. Use soft lighting, either via a dimmer switch or a bedside lamp, and turn off the overhead one before you put your child to bed. Relaxing music can also work a treat, as does the kind of surface your child will be sleeping on.
Basically, your aim is to create a calming, cozy and safe environment for your child to return to. The more welcoming their bedroom is at night, the more likely they’ll want to stay put.
2. Help your preschooler face their fears
Is your preschool child scared of monsters in the closet? Well, make it into a game. Before you go back to your own room, both you and your child could sing a little goodnight song to all the monsters under the bed, or in the closet (because they need their sleep too.) Tell your child matter-of-factly that the monsters are kind monsters that love their sleep so it’s only polite to wish them goodnight.
If that doesn’t work, test out your kid’s room for yourself. Sleep there for one night and be ready to face any of their fears with a rational explanation. For instance, you’ll know that the creepy shape in the corner is just their dressing gown on the door. Or that the creaky sounds are just the water in the pipes. (Hopefully, you’ll have an explanation for everything!) That way, when your child runs into you in the middle of the night and expresses a fear, you’ll be able to say: “I know, I heard it too. But don’t worry, this was all it was…” And so on.
3. Reward good behavior
Sometimes a little positive reinforcement can go a long way. I draw the line at calling it bribery! You need to remember these are toddlers and preschool children we are talking about here :). But if your child has a tendency to wander in the night, give them an incentive to stay in bed.
For instance, you could create a sticker chart. For every night that your child stays in bed until morning, you place a sticker on the chart. If by Saturday you have an unbroken line of stickers…it’s treat time! You could take them out for ice-cream, or to that superhero film they wanted to see, all because of their bedtime behavior during the week.
4. Lead by example
Your children idolize you and it’s only natural for them to follow whatever you do. So if they see you staying up late to watch movies, or never sticking to the one bedtime, they’ll pick up on those habits. They’ll try to push their luck; hopping out of bed to see if they can join you for just 5 more minutes and see what they can get away with.
So not only do you need to be strict with them, you need to be strict with yourself. Set your own bedtime for a reasonable hour and stick to it. Turn off screens at least 30 minutes before lights out to reduce alertness and read a book in bed instead.
Your little one will see how you stick to a bedtime routine, how you settle down for the night and will be more likely to follow your good example.
So the next time your child is restless at night, try out these 4 tips for size. Hopefully, they’ll start going to bed without too much hassle…and they’ll actually stay there until morning! Meaning you and your family all get the great rest that you deserve.