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Do you have tired kids? Scientists have discovered that a consistent bedtime routine will help your child fall asleep faster and sleep better at night. See what worked for me and discover loads of tips that will help to craft your own bedtime routine.
Want to know a secret?
Consistent bedtime routines are a tired parent’s secret weapon.
Yes it’s true!
A recent study of 10,000 + kids world wide found that children who have a regular bedtime routine enjoy an earlier bedtime AND fall asleep faster.
I bet that sounds good?
They also sleep better than children who don’t have a routine.
Yes you read that right! SLEEP BETTER!
It seems that a bedtime routine helps cue children for sleep, because it prompts the body to release melatonin (nature’s sleep hormone).
Some helpful resources
But wait there is more!
The unexpected benefit of a bedtime routine
I created bedtime rituals for each of my children while they were still infants. At first I did it for myself. I knew that a routine would help my children get ready to sleep at the same time each night.
They would fall asleep and I would have some precious alone time in the evening.
My boys went to sleep quickly and I got my alone time.
But it wasn’t long before it hit me. That quiet space at the end of the day provided a sacred space for some deep one on one connection. I wouldn’t have traded it for anything.
Do you see where we’re going with this?
Not only does a bedtime ritual will help your child fall asleep easier and earlier. Something many tired parents really need at the end of a long day. BUT It can be also powerful tool of connection with your children.
So let’s get down to it
A bedtime routine does have to be long, or complex, in fact the simpler the better. Here are a few tips
- Turn off all screens at least one hour, preferably two before bedtime. The blue light from electronic devices interferes with the production of Melatonin. This is the hormone that makes us sleepy, so we do not want to prevent this from happening!
- Create time for winding down. Transitions don’t always come easy for kids. So you can’t just announce that it’s bedtime and expect your children to be ready for sleep. Things like baths and stories create easy transitions.
- Give yourself plenty of time to walk through the routine without hurrying. You never know when this will be the one night your child needs to talk about something really important, is in need of some affirmation and reassurance, or simply wants to be held for a while. This time together is precious, so enjoy it while it lasts.
- Follow the same basic routine each night, but stay flexible. Let your child guide the process. Maybe they will need a few extra stories to calm down tonight, or want to talk to you about something. Don’t rush it.
- Include some physical contact. We are social animals and physical touch has both mental and physical benefits. Appropriate touch like a hug, a kiss, or a gentle massage will benefit both children and parents.
- Include at least one story, as reading together has magical powers of connection.
- If you have several children you can gather in one place for most of the ritual, but do spend some time with each child as you tuck them in and say good night.
- Let your ritual evolve as your children grow up. There will come a time when your children will feel that they are too old for a bedtime routine. Be respectful of their wishes, but make sure that you still make time for a moment of connection as they go to bed. You might provide a last snack and hang around in the kitchen for conversation. It’s amazing how profound those talks can be. Otherwise a hug and word of affirmation as your older child goes off to bed can provide a much-needed moment together.
What’s the magic formula?
There isn’t one. You just have to find out what works for your children and do that. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard is to look for progress not perfection.
Let me give you an example of a simple routine
I created bedtime rituals for my children at a very early age. Our routine went something like this
- Everyone scampering up the stairs with me in hot pursuit threatening to tickle their feet. (A little bit of fun that begins the transition and got them upstairs with no fuss.)
- Bath time with lots of water play (Starting to calm things down and send the message that it is bedtime)
- Story time with an abundance of cuddles and wonderful books (More calming activities and that all important physical contact)
- Lingering for quiet conversation (quiet moment of connection)
- Tucking them into bed with a hug, a kiss, and a prayer. (The signal that now it is time to sleep.)
It took about 45 minutes and at the end of that routine they went to sleep quickly and I enjoyed a couple of hours of kid free bliss!
Now it’s your turn
Figure out what will work for your family.
There will be nights when things are not perfect. Your kids will get tired and grumpy. You will get tired and grumpy. Don’t stop! It takes a while to establish a routine. Keep doing it until you find one that works for you.
So why not give it a go?
Working on a peaceful bedtime routine for your kids will help everyone feel connected as a family AND get your kids to sleep with no fuss. That’s got to be worth the effort right?
Can you help?
Do you have a bedtime ritual? What do you do? How does it help you connect with your children? Do you have questions? Please join in the conversation in the comments below.