A predictable, consistent bedtime routine is vital to helping your little one get a good night’s sleep. But usually, somewhere around the toddler years, they tend to start pushing for that extra story, another few kisses goodnight, or some other excuse to delay bedtime by a few extra minutes.
If your little one is testing the bedtime boundaries, I’ve got some tips for you today that will keep the routine on track and make sure they’re happily in bed and ready for sleep right on schedule without having things turn into a battle.
One of the common complaints I hear from parents, it that their bedtime routine with their child takes forever. Now, you’ve probably already figured out how important a bedtime routine is, in the first place, if you haven’t then let me just give you a little heads up around that. A bedtime routine is super important. It acts as a predicting cue system for our body and our brain. It helps everything get in line with this idea that we’re going to be going to bed for the night.
If you think about it, you’ve got a bedtime routine, you probably do it in the same order every single night, and that really helps set the stage, that bedtime is coming, and gets our body and brain in line with that. So we want it to be predictable, we want it to move in a very step by step fashion, no random playtime in there, it’s gotta be bang, bang, bang, bang, teeth, bath, you know, books, whatever is in your process for getting your little one ready for bed at night.
Now the problem usually kicks in somewhere around the toddler years, where your little person figures out, hey, I could slow this down, I could start being difficult, I could start dragging my feet, I could start asking for a million things, in the bedtime routine, and now this once lovely 30 minute period is now taking an hour or more while you’re trying to chase a little one around the house to get them ready for bed. And that becomes a frustration point for a lot of parents, and by the times she’s finally in bed, you’re exhausted, and there goes your evening.
So let’s get this on track. My favorite, favorite, favorite, trick for getting a bedtime routine streamlined, moving in a proper fashion, is a timer. I use a timer for a lot of things around parenting. I think it kind of takes the pressure off of you a little bit, you don’t have to be nagging or harassing or harping on your child to hurry up, you just set a timer, and say, listen, we’ve got 30 minutes to get all of our activities done. We need to have our bath, get our teeth brushed, get into our jammies, have our storytime before this timer goes. And if we can’t do that before the timer goes, then you’re gonna miss out on a story. Or you’re gonna have some sort of a consequence for this.
So that was one of my go-to’s when my kids were little is if you can’t make it before the timer, then there will be no storytime tonight, and you’ll have to go to bed without it. And I would say, I haven’t met a child who doesn’t like stories, hopefully, you have a child who loves stories, and that is a great motivator for them because they know that they’ve gotta get their butts in gear and get things done so that they get that storytime.
Now, here’s the truth of the matter. You’ve gotta follow through on this, and this is the hard part, I know, for most parents, including myself, that if they do not meet the timer, you can’t offer the stories. And that might be the night where they all go to bed crying because they didn’t get their story. And, again, that’s life. Those are the lessons that we need to learn. That if you can’t follow the rule, and you can’t get your tasks done in time, then there will be no storytime. So you’ll have to stand behind that. And stand strong in it, but here’s the good news around that. It’s gonna happen a couple of times, probably, and that’s okay, and the good news is that your child will learn, that, hey, we really better motor here, and get our things done if we want that storytime. And it is a fabulous motivator for keeping things on track.
Now, set the timer somewhere that everybody can see it so that they can keep an eye on, and then the first little while, until they get the hang of this, it’s okay to kind of give little reminders through the routine, that, oh, you know, we’re halfway, we’re at the halfway mark, the timer’s gonna go off in 15 minutes. Just to give them a heads up, because kids don’t totally understand how long 30 minutes really feels, so they might need a little bit of coaching around that, but try not to be too harpy or naggy about it, cause they’ll just get super anxious and stressed out, and that’s gonna raise their cortisol level, and that’s gonna be hard for them once they get to bed, cause they’re kinda running with adrenaline when we want them to be calming down.
So you’re just keeping an eye on things, and you’re being calm and relaxed. It’s not your job, this is their job, and their responsibility to get everything done in time for that timer and it can be a lot of fun. My kids used to challenge each other, and come check, and go do their tasks, so hopefully, you can spin it as a positive.
Thanks so much for watching today. Sleep well.
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