This new year a lot of parents I know, have been wondering how to set a routine for their children when it comes to bedtime. Some end up sleeping really late and that means, waking up tired the next morning. Some, on the other hand, sleep too early and barely have a routine in place. In my home, the kids go to sleep by 8.30 pm and wake up at 6.15 am. The question is how did we manage to get two kids both under the age of 10 into a routine like this? `
Well, it isn't rocket science and that's what I wanted to share. Here is what worked for us.
Lead by example:
Kids emulate their parents and they want to do exactly what you are doing. You can't go to bed past midnight and force them into bed early – they simply won't buy it. So you need to follow the early to bed rule too!
Make sure your kids know that mom and dad are accessible for play and work and talk in the morning. Nighttime and bedtime is strictly for sleeping. Be firm and let them know they can talk in the morning. You need to establish a routine.
Don't tire them out:
A lot of parents believe that completely tiring kids out is the way to get them to bed early. Some people also believe dropping afternoon naps will get them to bed early. In my home we prefer the kids not to be too tired at 7.30 pm because that's when we sit down as a family and spend some quality time. I also found that it made playtime and dinner time too rushed and added a lot of anxiety for us as parents. Bedtime is about reading, cuddles, giggles and hugs before it is light's out! Even paediatricians agree that children need some quiet time to unwind before bedtime.
Food also plays a huge role in sleep and with the lack of processed foods like biscuits, chips, chocolates, in their system, they are never high on sugar.
Become creatures of habit:
If it becomes habit forming to do things on a routine, it becomes second nature and they will do it every day of the year. My kids wake up like a rooster at 6.15 or 6.30 every morning any day of the year. It's just their body clock. There is a flip side to it too but it just works for us as a family.
Find a cue that works for them:
Our kids just fall off to sleep when it's time but what worked well and does even now is reading. We agree on 3 books before bed time and it works really well. By the second one, they are knocked out and it just sends a message that it is time to sleep. You could try books, music, warm bath, sharing your day with each other – find one that works for your kids.