By: Sarah Meikle/
Children, especially young children, thrive on routine and love predictability (think of all those stories you’ve re-read and songs you play over and over)!
Understanding this can help solve one of our most common parenting issues: BEDTIME MELTDOWNS!!
Bedtime meltdowns can put the best of us to the test, and really ruin a good day. So, how do we avoid them? The best advice we can give is to create a bedtime routine and stick with it. It is important to remember that it’s never too early or too late to establish a bedtime routine, even teenagers need good sleep hygiene. If children go between two households throughout their week, it is a good idea to have both parents on the same page and have the bedtime routine as similar as possible.
Our tip for making this successful; involve your children in the plan so that they share in the decision-making and new rules. One way to do this is by having a “Family Meeting”.
Children will get excited and feel empowered when they have a say in helping to make family decisions. They are more likely to stick with the routine that they helped design. Sit down together, address the problem that needs to be solved, and brainstorm solutions together.
Here are some things to consider:
- Decide on what time is ‘bedtime’. During your family meeting give your children two choices for bedtime and make sure that they are choices you would be happy with. For example. “Should bedtime be at 7:30pm or 8:00pm?” Does this mean ‘lights out’, or the start of a longer routine leading to ‘lights out’?
- Get visual! Draw out the steps to bedtime on paper and hang them for reference. This can lead to independence too!
- Limit screen time at least one hour before bedtime.
- Bath time is a great way to begin your routine and is a perfect way to get the body ready for rest.
- Brushing teeth at night…creates good oral hygiene habits and allows children one last movement activity to get their wiggles out.
- Add in some simple yoga/stretches and meditation to help settle the mind after a long day. Soft instrumental music might be the perfect touch!
- Bedtime stories set your child up for school success and the importance of early literacy!
- Ask your child what their favorite thing about their day was. This is a great way to end the night with something they were grateful for! Remind them that tomorrow is a new day, with a fresh start to ease any negative feelings they may have had.
- Say “I love you”. Let your child know how much they mean to you!
Every family is unique, and what works for some may not work for others. Just like everything in life, you may not always be able to stick to the routine, but doing your best to stay as consistent as possible just may help limit those Bedtime Meltdowns!
Sarah Meikle has been a Parent Liaison for Lenawee Great Start since 2015. She is a certified trainer for the Strengthening Families Protective Factors Framework through the National Alliance of Children’s Trust and Prevention Funds and a facilitator of the Active Parenting Training. She enjoys partnering with local organizations and agencies to help serve the families of Lenawee County. She was raised in Adrian where she attended Madison Schools. She is a proud mother to two beautiful children, Camden and Kaylee.