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10 Clever Tricks to Help Prepare for Your Kid's Bedtime

mother reading to daughter before the kid’s bedtime

mother reading to daughter before kid’s bedtime

The life of a modern child is just as busy as their parents, with scheduled periods of school, activities, lessons, play, meals, and favorite television programs. Stack this on top of a child's natural well of energy, and it's no wonder children may have a hard time getting to sleep. From energetic toddlers to curious grade schoolers, it's not unusual for parents to find their kids wired, anxious, and not at all ready to drift off to sleep. Fortunately, you're not alone.

Parents all over the world deal with high energy before their kid’s bedtime. The good news is that the techniques to help are natural and will also help you to sleep. There are many ways to do it, but the key is a relaxing bedtime routine. Let's take a look at ten different methods parents have discovered that can help your child settle down for bedtime.

1. Play the Bedtime Song

The first thing you can quickly introduce is a bedtime song. Our minds naturally associate music with places and activities. TV theme songs, soft restaurant music, your morning radio show. And kids do the same thing. Try playing a specific relaxing song or album every single night at bedtime. You won't notice any difference at first, but over time, your kids will start to wind down naturally when they hear the song.

2. No-Screens Time

Watching TV tends to leave the mind spinning. So does playing video games and chatting online with friends. Whatever age your children are, try to encourage an hour or two or without screen time before bed. It is an excellent time to play a quiet family board game, wrap up a few nightly chores together, double-check homework, or take a bath.

3. Team Up With a Partner

If you're raising your kids with a partner, it helps to build a bedtime routine that both of you can perform or tag-team on to make sure it's done calmly every night. It's beneficial for several reasons. First, it means your kids can get to sleep if you're sick or away for the night. And second, it means you can tag-team on stressful nights or even hand off the routine if one of you is too stressed to be a good bedtime parent. Kids can pick up on stress, also, and can worry if you are too tense at bedtime. So, teaming up with a partner makes bedtime parenting easier.

4. Eat a Soothing Bedtime Snack

Proper nutrition for parents and kids can be quite different. Adults shouldn't eat before bed, because unburned calories turn to fat. But children are small and going to bed hungry can be surprisingly distracting for them. A small snack about 30 minutes or more before bed can help your kids settle down and feel ready for bedtime.

Your best bet is a soothing snack that will digest comfortably overnight. Banana and graham cracker, for example, or a small bowl of plain cheerios are great examples of a little tasty bedtime snack. If your child begs for sweets, chilled jello or homemade pudding are good alternatives to ice cream or candy. And, of course, make sure snacks happen on the right side of tooth brushing.

5. Read a Calm Bedtime Story

Bedtime stories are a classic technique for a reason. Children love to listen to stories, and it gives parents a reason to sit with their child until they are almost asleep. But make sure to choose a relaxing bedtime book. Harry Potter and other chapter books for kids are often too exciting to go to sleep. Try older books like Little House on the Prairie or books explicitly written to be bedtime books.

If your child still wants to talk when the chapter is over, talk about what you just read. Reflect on what you learned in the chapter and ask what they suspect might happen next. Encourage them to consider it while they sleep and look forward to bedtime tomorrow to find out. It will give your child something pleasant to think about as they drift to sleep.

6. Give a Relaxing Bath

Another way to help your child get to sleep is to plan a hot bath and a cold bedtime right before they go to sleep. You can even use relaxing bath oils like lavender or chamomile. After they're all clean, encourage your child to relax and float in the bath, listening to the strange, gentle sounds they hear through the water.

If you wash your child's hair, give them a gentle scalp massage and speak softly about anything that comes up naturally. And if your children are older, encourage them to treat themselves to a mini-spa. You might even add a small music player in the bathroom to play relaxing instrumentals or the sound of rainstorms.

7. Dim the Light in a Special Way

Specific gestures make bedtime real for children, like lining up their stuffed animals or putting on their favorite pajamas. You can help your child mentally prepare for bed by switching the lights in their room to a dark bedtime mode. Or you might use a small lamp or closet light as your soft lighting source. Smart lights can even turn themselves blue and dim on voice command.

The goal is to give yourself enough light to finish bedtime, but make it dim and relaxing for your child as they wind down to sleep. The special dim light will tell your child's brain that it's 'night time' and, therefore, time to sleep.

8. Write in a Worry Book

Some children get anxious around bedtime. You get them into jammies, and suddenly every possible trouble has your child worried. What if the squirrels outside are hungry? What if a storm blows away your roof? What if there is a monster in their toybox waiting to pounce? For children who worry, one excellent solution is a worry book—a small journal where your child can write or draw their worries. You explain that anything written in the worry book can be closed up away, put under their pillow, and tucked away for sleep. Sleeping on a problem makes it easier to deal with and can give you answers in the morning. It helps children put aside their worries overnight when anxiety strikes most.

9. Introduce Monster Spray

And for kids who are sure a monster will jump out the moment you're not looking, there is monster spray. A cleverly relabeled bottle of air freshener can make a great show, and the lingering smell will remind your child that they are safe. That's one of many possible ways to symbolically banish the monsters to make your child feel better.

You can also stomp around the room declaring to be the scariest thing in the house. You can set up a teddy bear sentry watch to keep the monsters at bay. Or you can introduce monster-proof pajamas. Just be prepared to maintain the fiction by getting the same brand of air freshener, doing the monster act, or buying new 'monster-proof' PJs when they grow out of the old ones.

10. Guided Bedtime Meditation

Did you know that children enjoy meditation, too? They will get the giggles the first few times you walk them through it, but children can find deep enjoyment in listening to their breathing or going through a guided meditation exercise with you. Try starting with your child lying on the floor instead of in bed (they're used to wiggling in bed already).

Tell your child to close their eyes and listen to the sound of their breathing. Count breaths, counting slower as you go. You can walk your child through a relaxing visualization of a walk in a garden or a boat ride. Or you can play soft music for five minutes, then count breaths to come back up before going to bed or bath.

One parent suggests playing a 'soft sounds' game where the parent promises to make a soft noise, and children raise their hand when they hear it. It gets them calm, quiet, and focused while you play a meditation game together. Children are usually very quiet after finishing a meditation game.

Here at Nest Bedding, we're all about helping humans of all ages find the perfect night's sleep. For more sleepy insights, contact us today or keep browsing the blog!