The kids are back in school. Why then is it so hard to get them into bed? If your bedtime routine went on summer vacation, now is the time to dig it out from under the winter coats and boots, shake it off and put it into action.
Here are a few things to remember:
Children ages 2 to 6 need between 11 and 13 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period. (Younger children may get a portion of that in a daytime nap). If we budget 11 hours of sleep at night then children need to be asleep at 8 pm if they are getting up at 7 am for school.
Kids often get tired around 6:30–7:00 pm. If we push them past that sleepy period (because we are enjoying their company), adrenalin starts to kick in, and what was once a tired youngster becomes and intergalactic missile who cannot be stopped until the adrenalin runs out.
Some families quit late bed times cold turkey. Others like to do it in stages. Choose a plan that works for you, even if that means starting the bedtime routine 5–10 minutes earlier each night. If your plan doesn’t fit you, you won’t stick to it.
Be sure that the routine works for the child now (not the child of last year). Evaluate whether your little one still needs you to put her pyjamas on—maybe she can do it herself now.
Take time to write the plan down (with words and pictures for non-readers) along with times beside it so that everyone knows the plan. Your child can then take responsibility for telling you what comes next instead of you having to nag every step of the way.
Need more help? We have helped thousands of families with bedtime struggles. Like us at facebook.com/parentingpower to learn real life parenting tools for your family.
Julie Freedman Smith and Gail Bell provide tools for real life parenting through their company, Parenting Power™. Using over 40 years of combined experience, they work with parents across the country through telephone coaching, podcasts, and video courses to ease the stress and guilt of parents while providing practical solutions to everyday parenting challenges. Visit www.parentingpower.ca to ask your own parenting questions.