After writing yesterdays blog on reading, I began to think more and more about our bedtime routine and its importance to our family. Our bedtime routine began with my first son. When he was about 6 month old and in a ‘regular’ sleeping schedule, I decided that we needed a bedtime routine. Our routine began, simple; bath, books and bed, but as he got older and other children were added to the picture, we refined our routine.
Our bedtime routine begins an hour before bed time. My children are pretty wound up most of the time so it is crutial to slowly bring them down to a state of calmness rather then expect them from going from all-cylinders-firing to off in position in a matter of minutes. The first step is switching floors. Most of the time, we are on the main floor of our house, once bedtime had crept upon us, we move upstairs and begin the calming down process. I think that the change in floors is a physical signal that we have begun the bedtime process. The process is as followed:
- Bath or Shower
- Pj’s on
- Teeth brushed
- Stories and cuddle time on Mommy and Daddy’s bed
- Music on
- Kisses and tucked in
So why are bedtime routines so important? Why not change it up every night to keep life interesting?
Bedtime routines are important for many reasons.
1. They allow the child to get a good night of sleep. Studies show that if a child doesn’t receive a restful night of sleep it leads to poor behavior, inability to concentrate in school, hyperactivity and a general decline in physiological health. Research for the Prince’s Trust, showed that students aged 16-25 years old who scored lower on tests reported not having a rigid bedtime schedule when they were younger. They showed characteristics of insecurity, failed exams twice as often, and lacked a drive to succeed.
2. They give adults “Me” Time. Having children is a huge emotional and timely investment. Most of our waking (and sometimes sleeping) hours are focused on our a children. “Me” time is vital for our health, and overall emotional well being. It is NOT an indulgence, it is necessary! It allows us to unwind from the events of the day, review what we have experience, and plan for the future. Some easy “Me” time ideas include a hot bath, reading, knitting, and Blogging!
3. Maintain your relationship with your spouse. “Studies show that healthy relationships make us happier, improve our well being, and can offer health benefits. Conversely, unhealthy relationships can damage our self esteem and cause stress and anxiety.” Therefore, although children take front row most of the day, it is equally important to set aside time in the day to maintain a health relationship with your spouse. Whether you are newlywed or married 30 years, a marriage takes work and its important to make the time to solidify that relationship. A strong relationship between mom and dad, leads to a solid foundation for the family.
4, Teach your children structure and routine. Repetition is very important to children as it gives them a sense of control. By knowing what to expect next in the bedtime routine they feel safe and secure. It also allows them to understand the transition from the busyness of day and learn to self sooth and relax. These are important behaviors to learn as they allow the child (and later the adult) calm themselves and deal with stressful situations. Routines also teach the child how to prioritize activities and how organize and prepare for the next day.
5. Build and nurture a relationship with your child. This is a time where there are no distractions. Cuddling and darkness tend to have a way of opening up a child, leading to conversations that might usually not occur. It is a time that you can give your child your undivided attention and share thought or feelings they may not have shared with you in another situation. Beware that this may be used as a stall tactic; but if treated right, it can be a very intimate, nonthreatening time in which your child may feel comfortable enough to unburden any stress they may be carrying.
Bedtime routines are personal, individual and enjoyable. Regardless if it take 10 minutes, half an hour or hour, it must be a system that works right for your family. The more simplistic the routine, the easier it is to follow and the more benefit you receive. Instead of looking at bedtime routines as a daily chore, look at the benefits its giving you and your children.