Bedtime antics!

How do you get your kids to go to bed at night is a question that I have often been asked over the years and the main answer to that question is consistency!! I know that you are probably thinking that you’ve heard that before, but I think that when you are experiencing problems getting your child to bed you can often feel overwhelmed and add that to tiredness and stress and it can often be hard to look at things in an honest and logical way.

When it comes to bedtimes you first need to decide on what time you would like your children to go to bed and you need to agree on this with your partner if you have one as everyone that is in charge of caring for your children need to be on the same page. Now, when it comes to choosing a time for your children to go to bed, much of that will depend on your own personal circumstances but as a guide the NHS choices website has a list of ages and how many hours the average child needs to sleep each night. You may decide to have a set bedtime every night or you could do what I do which is have a school night bedtime and a weekend/school holidays bedtime and for our family that has always worked well.

Once you have decided on an appropriate bedtime you then need to set up a bedtime routine that stays the same 99% of the time. The reason I say 99% is because in reality there will be times when the situation is out of your control and it is not possible to keep to it, but for the majority of the time you need to follow through with the bedtime routine from start to finish so that your child always knows what to expect each night. One important factor to consider is what your own mood is like at your child’s bedtime as you need to be calm with your children if you want them to stay calm and settle down nicely.

Here is a list of some of the things that you could include in your child’s bedtime routine depending on how old they are and what is suitable for you and your family.
  • Bath or wash.
  • A warm drink.
  • A quiet activity such as a puzzle or colouring in.
  • A bedtime story.
  • Teeth.
  • A quiet talk about the day’s events.
  • Cuddle time.
  • A healthy snack.
  • Listening to some calming music.
For FJ, my five-year-old, the bedtime routine starts at 6:30pm. First of all we do a quiet activity to help calm her down as she is a very active child. Then at 7pm, I take her upstairs and she has a wash, brushes her teeth and gets ready for bed. I then read her a story and then we have a cuddle and a quiet talk for about ten minutes. It is usually around 7:30 after all of this when I then leave the room and she is allowed to play with her toys or read to herself until 8pm. This then gives her the recommended sleep of 11 hours each night. On a weekend or school holiday I still do the same routine but an hour later as of course, she can sleep in for longer when there is no school. I only allow FJ to watch a DVD or play on her play station on a weekend or school holiday as well as I feel that doing such activities at bedtime can actually keep children awake rather than send them to sleep, so if she has school the next day it is important that she gets a good nights sleep. For my older two girls, it is recommended that they have 9 hours sleep, so they go to bed at 9pm on school nights and then it’s light’s out at 9:30pm and although I can’t force them at their age to go straight to sleep I do have the same DVD and video game rules which helps them go to sleep a lot earlier then they would if I let them do what they like at bedtime.

Once you have everything sorted for the bedtime routine it’s a good idea to write it down and stick it up somewhere so that everyone can see it and if you are doing this for the first time then it is probably a good idea to discuss your bedtime plans with your child but don’t do it just before bed when they are tired as they will not be able to take on board what you are saying. The best time to discuss your plans with your child is at a time when they are fully awake and in a good mood.

The only other piece of advice that I can offer on this topic is to stay consistent! It may be hard as at first as your children will probably try and test the situation to see how far they can push the boundaries, but if you stay calm and consistent they will eventually learn that this is how things are going to be and they will be much more compliant. I do still on the odd occasion get resistance from FJ when it’s bedtime, but I just stick to my guns and after a few days she goes back to accepting that it is bedtime and I never have a problem with my older two when it comes to bed and more often than not they actually just get up and say goodnight at 9pm without me having to say anything at all as they know the rules.

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  1. says:
    I totally agree with consistency. When we had Big J we never had any routine and this had a massive effect on us all. It took years for us to realise that a routine was needed, being first time parents we used to let him stay up late, sing with him, dance etc and it was a nightmare getting him to bed. Which looking back now was our fault he needed a routine, quiet time and we never gave him that. With our second it was routine from day one and it's so much better. Thanks for linking up #GoldenOldies
  2. says:
    Thanks for your comments Michelle :-) I think that routine and consistency are every parents best friend!

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