People have been mentally and physically tortured by enemies. Coal miners have been stuck underground for days on end without food. Sailors have been stranded in the middle of the ocean with no fresh water and surrounded by sharks. But none of these, I repeat none….are as difficult or grueling as dealing with a young child at night time.
In this video, we are helping you establish a night time routine to ease your pain. Establishing a routine is important from the time your baby is born. Children thrive and love routines. If you are not sure about this, why do you think your child watches the same movie 427 times or wants to read the same bedtime story 855 times. Night time is a battle zone in houses across the world. So my hope here is to offer some advice to make night time a little easier for both you and your child.
Step #1 – Take inventory – Write down all of the things you need your child to do before they go to sleep – Bath, put on pajamas, brush teeth, read a story, etc. Put them in chronological order.
Step #2 – Establish the time you want them to go to sleep. Just a tip here, your 4 year old should not be going to sleep at 10:00 o’clock. Experts agree that earlier bed times are better for kids. It’s also better for the parents.
Step #3 – Work backwards with realistic time slots. For example, if you want a bedtime of 8:00, they may have to start reading at 7:30pm. Then before that they need to brush their teeth and hair at 7:20. You get the idea. Once you have all of the items and times listed, you are ready for the next step.
Step #4 – Dinner time gets established – This is the crucial step in the entire routine as dinner is the foundation for the schedule. If dinner time is off or inconsistent the entire schedule get’s thrown off. If you or your spouse are in charge of making dinner happen, it’s essential to make the effort to keep it on schedule.
Step #5 – Make the schedule visible for everyone – You can put a whiteboard in the kitchen, print out copies and laminate them, but just make sure it’s in an easily visible area. I would suggest putting the schedule in a common area such as the kitchen as well as a copy in your child’s room. When the kids are just starting this, you may allow them to mark off each item as they do it. Put a check box next to each activity. When they are little, they like checking them off. The schedule is the best way to establish their routine.
Here are some tips that are crucial to it’s success:
If your child is old enough, let them help make the schedule.
Also, you need to be on same page with your spouse – same thing if you co-parent. It won’t work if one has a steady routine and the other doesn’t.
Next, consider a more flexible routine on weekends but not too flexible. Maybe they get an extra hour after dinner before their routine begins.
The process of night time “winding down” is really important. Reading is a good way to do this. Playing games and using electronics is not recommended before bed. They are stimulating and they won’t help the process.
When they need some help staying on schedule, don’t tell them what to do. Instead ask questions like: “What comes after putting your pajamas on?”
Be consistent – remember kids thrive on routine and consistency.