I don’t want to say this too loudly but: School starts in a month. That means you still have a lot of time to prepare. And it’s a good time to start thinking about what you are going to do to get ready for that big first day.
One of the most important pieces to having a good school day is getting enough sleep the night before. And one of the best ways to help your child get a good night’s sleep is to have a consistent bedtime routine. Having the same routine every night will help your child learn to relax, fall asleep more easily, and stay asleep.
So how do you set up a bed time routine? Here are a few tips:
- Decide on a consistent bed time. If bed time is the same every night, your child will get used to expecting bed time. It will be easier for her to follow the routine. And her body will be prepared so she is likely to be able to relax faster and more easily. Also, if you have a consistent time for bed, your child will be less likely to try to convince you to give her “just a few more minutes” to stay up. Lots of parents relax bed time during the summer. If you have done that this summer, now is a good time to start back on your regular bed time schedule so that your children can get used to it before school starts.
- Develop a consistent routine. This can be whatever works for your family. Some families have a bath time before bed, then brush teeth, put on pajamas, and have a story. Some families have longer or shorter routines. What you do will depend on what works for you and your child. The most important thing is to keep the routine consistent. It might also help to write down the steps for your child (or draw pictures for younger children) and hang them up somewhere that he can see them, like the bathroom mirror. This will help both you and your child to stick to the routine and can help your child to develop independence in following the routine himself.
- Make the bed time routine relaxing. You want your child to be able to wind down so that she can fall asleep easily. So make the last couple of things in the routine relaxing. This may mean reading a story and getting a goodnight hug and kiss. Or maybe reading a book is too exciting for your child. So deep breathing before bed time might be a better idea. It depends on you and your child. Studies suggest that you should avoid having your child watch tv or videos right before he goes to bed, though, because the screens can actually interfere with good sleep. Check out this list from Parenting Magazine for possible relaxing bed time activities.
With a consistent bed time routine, children will be more likely to get a good night’s sleep, will wake up in better moods, and will be better able to learn. It also means that they will be better prepared for their morning routines! Check back next week when we talk about helping your child to get the best start to her day with morning routines.
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