A recent survey shows that 33% of parents find Bedtime the most stressful part of the day. Research, carried out by Blinds 2 Go, also shows that parents find Shopping, Dinner time and Eating Out almost as stressful. You can read more information about this research here.
Bedtime is quite a calm affair (generally!) in our house, and so I thought I would share with you some of the tips I’ve picked up over the last 3 years of parenting on how to achieve a more relaxed bedtime routine.
Be prepared. When you come home from work or you’re back from the nursery pick-up, sort out dinner and prepare for bath time. Make sure you have towels to hand, toys for the bath, pyjamas on their bed ready to get changed into. If you’re running around trying to find things – you’re not helping yourself and your stress levels will rise!
Every evening, we eat our dinner at around 5:30pm. After dinner, we put the television on and let O zone out watching an episode of Peppa Pig, Ben and Holly’s Magic Little Kingdom or something similar. We find that this helps to calm him after a busy day at pre-school but prevents him from falling asleep to early! During this time, we give him some fruit and a cracker with cheese to eat for supper to make sure that he’s not getting up during the night because he’s hungry.
After some Quiet Time and supper, we take O upstairs for his bath. The warm water helps to relax their muscles and encourages them to wind down. Washing O’s hair can sometimes become stressful as he doesn’t like the water going in his eyes, but we’ve now convinced him to lie down in the bath so that most of the shampoo washes out itself. If your little one is too young to do this, there are lots of innovative products on the market that can help to shield their eyes. Also, using a lavender scented bubble bath or soap can help to encourage children to relax; meaning that bedtime is a much more welcoming prospect.
After a bath, a chilled out bedtime story or two is a great way to help children to calm their minds and bodies. No matter what age they are, listening to the soothing sounds of your voice is something that definitely calms your baby. Older children, like O, like to choose their own stories which helps to keep his concentration on the book. After our stories, we lay in the dark with O and sing two songs whilst stroking the back of his head. We have found that this helps him to fall asleep peacefully.
Bedrooms are for sleeping. Although many parents don’t have the space to store their childrens’ toys anywhere else but their room, there isn’t really any need to have a television in the room. I hear of children falling asleep with a DVD on or watching re-runs of Peppa Pig, and it’s just not good for promoting a night of decent quality sleep. Read your bedtime stories by the light of a lamp, or dimmed ‘big’ light to encourage your children to give in to their sleepy eyes. Minimise distractions as much as possible.
We are creatures of habit and, so, routine is a vital part of our everyday life. I acknowledge the fact that routine doesn’t work for everyone, but in the vast majority of cases it does. Establishing a routine early is achievable at any point, although the earlier, the better. Setting a time to start off the bath, the length of time you allow play in the bath, the ideal time for your child to fall asleep. This will, in turn, get them into a routine of waking up at roughly the same time every day after a full night’s sleep.
And there we have it. My tips to making bedtime less stressful and encouraging a calmer, more peaceful nights sleep for your little one.