It's late. You're all tired. You've announced bedtime. And yet, your darling child refuses to go bed. Cue the hide and seek game. Next is the slow march up the stairs (and eventually down). Bath time is especially drawn out. Little throats are suddenly thirsty for more water and monsters need to be banished. Finally you break and the yelling starts. Still, your child is not asleep. Sound familiar? I've been there and I want to help. So here I'm giving you five tips to avoid bed time battles.
1. Set your own bedtime routine
Create a relaxing and rewarding bedtime routine for yourself. Make your child's bedtime part of your routine. You will be more invested in creating and sticking to a schedule when your downtime is on the line.
2. Bedtime starts after dinner
Dinnertime is a natural break in the day that can be the start of your bedtime routine. Visual schedules hanging in the kitchen are great for younger kids. From there you have a great routine that you can have setup from the time that they've finished cleaning up dinner to the time that they've actually closed their eyes
3. Keep activities fun and relaxing
Switching to quieter play will likely help with transitioning. Coloring, building, or simple games tend to be easier to wrap up than a video game or play fighting. Having kids picking music, bubble baths, and books keeps this fun and interesting for them. Movies and games that rile your kids up are not the best choice an hour before bed. Video games are best to be avoided close to bedtime as well. It can be difficult for kids to bring themselves down from a heightened state.
4. Set time limits for activities- and stick to it!
A lot of times it is so easy for us to just turn on Netflix or Nick Jr, etc. and let it play. Then we can clean up dinner, veg out, talk on the phone. Bedtime sneaks up and now you're back struggling with the kids to disengage from the TV. Establishing a limit for an activity and setting a timer can reduce or eliminate this struggle. So if you have 20 minutes for an activity, keep it at 20 minutes. Which leads to the advice I give the most:
5. Give yourself a buffer for transitions
Kids can have a hard time with transitions depending on developmental age. This is especially true of younger kids, as well as those with some special needs or diagnoses. Give yourself at least five minutes before and after a transitions. That fifteen minute bedtime story may well be close to a half an hour or longer. What should really take you maybe an hour and a half for bedtime may take you two hours. This isn't a huge deal because you've already built in your buffers. Big tip, probably obvious: don't let them know they have extra time.
I hope these tips will help you to prevent future bedtime battles! Check back for future blogs and additional advice and tips.
Should you if you need a little bit more in depth help you can always go to www.ameltherapy.com/contactus to work directly with me for parenting consultations. I also treat children and adolescents in the Philadelphia area.