For us parents, trying to get our children to go bed at a regular time can be challenging. What has worked well though is establishing a nighttime routine that prepares children for bed, rather than one that has a strict time that everyone in the family must be in bed by.
A typical nighttime routine should include taking a bath, brushing teeth, and a calming family activity. Children need to wind down before going to bed, so if you select 8 p.m., for example, as the time for your children to be in bed, and at 7:45 p.m. they are busy playing video games, their brains are still going to be wired by the time they need to be in bed. It is important to set a time for them to start their routine, as this will begin the process to calming them down and ending the night peacefully.
As the time is nearing for the routine to begin, take a look around the house and make sure that everything that can be done that night is done. Have them pick up and clean up after themselves. Also, double check that they have all their homework, clothes, and other items they will need in the morning ready. This will make getting out the door in the morning problem free.
Use the time while you bathe your younger children to talk to them. Some subjects are the type of bedtime story they want to read or what can be expected during the next day. When they are brushing their teeth, double check that they are doing it properly and not doing it in a mad rush to do something else. Explain to them the importance of doing this routine every day.
Once they head toward the bedroom, your children’s anticipation of reading a good book will be peaked. Not only will they be anticipating an interesting story, but they will also be eager to spend quiet, loving time with you. The books you and your children choose can range from simple bedtime stories that can be read at one sitting or more lengthy books which can be read one chapter at a time. And, reading is not exclusive to younger children as it can be a relaxing experience at any age. There are actually many benefits to reading to older children and I discussed them in a previous blog. No matter how old a child is, reading time will always be special.
Be sure to set aside time after reading to pray with your children. Praying together is an important opportunity to talk to God together. Be sure to include in your prayers a lot of “thank yous” to God, as instilling gratitude in your children will make them more appreciative of what they have. There is no better way to end the day!
Having a good, full night’s sleep is just as important for the health and development of your children as eating properly or being active. Creating these routines will develop good habits that continue into their adult lives.