Building a Bulletproof Bedtime Routine

A boss bedtime routine is one the surest ways to make bedtime a smooth, consistent, and even pleasurable, (you’d better believe it!), part of the day. Most parents have some form of a nightly routine down pat, but here are some tips and ideas for creating the ultimate bedtime routine!

1. Start Early

First things first, the earlier you start the bedtime process, the less pressure there will be to have your child asleep quickly. Bedtime is a great opportunity for individual bonding time, and it would a shame to skip out on that simply because of scheduling issues. Start earlier, even if only by 15 minutes. Reminders are a great way to ease your child into it and increase time conscientiousness. Beginning the routine 20 minutes to an hour before you want them in bed is a great place to start.

2. Be Consistent

This one is pretty self explanatory, but consistency in the timing and order of the routine increases reliability and awareness that “Lights Out,” is coming. Go upstairs at the same time, dim the lights at the same time, and don’t have your child get into bed until its actually time to go to sleep. Consistency is key.

3. Offer Choices

Choices make things more fun, and can help anyone feel like they are more in control. Offer your child a variety of toothpastes, or discuss which PJ’s they feel like wearing tonight. Questions like, “Do you want the night-lamp on, or the door open?” or “Which teddy should we bring into bed tonight?” will help your child feel like they have a say in the matter, as opposed to having no choice. There’s also something nice about making small choices, between two good things, purely based on how you feel at the moment.

4. Breathing Exercises

Children may have difficulty calming down and relaxing after an eventful day. Breathing exercises are a great way to facilitate relaxation in your children. A relaxing bath or a quick massage have the same effect. You can try Back to Back Breathing, or Tummy Breathing. For Back to Back Breathing, begin by sitting on the floor back to back. Sit tall and close your eyes if you want to. Decide who will start – that person begins by inhaling deeply and then exhaling slowly, and then continues to breathe slowly and deeply. Their partner should feel the expansion in their partner’s back each time they breathe in and then try to sync their own breathing so that both partners are breathing in time together. Tummy Breathing may be better for smaller kids- you lie on the floor and place a small stuffed animal on your stomach. Breathe in deeply though your nose and feel the stuffed animal rise, and then feel it lower as you slowly exhale through your mouth. Rock the stuffed animal to sleep using the rise and fall of your stomach. For more cool breathing exercises, check out Childhood101.

5. Bedtime Reading Sessions

Let us not forget the power of a bedtime book. Whether a colorful story book, or a chapter a night with an older child, reading not only enhances essential literacy skills, but has been proven to have a positive effect on all areas of childhood education. Let them pick out their favorite book, (or books, depending on who you are), and don’t be afraid to take a trip to the library or Barnes and Nobles once in a while to keep things exciting.

6. Power Down

Dim the lights and have all screens in another room…including your own! For an older child, this might be a good time for them to get their own reading done, draw something, tell you about their day, or what they have planned for tomorrow.

7. Counting Blessings

This ritual is so amazing because it serves many purposes at one time. Asking your child, “What are three good things that happened today?” before they go to sleep provides closure and satisfaction, while promoting overall feelings of happiness and well-being.
Another tip? Most, if not all, of these ideas work just as well on adults! A concrete bedtime routine means more consistent sleeping habits for increased health and focus. Plus, a great day really does start with a great night. Try them out yourself, and see what sticks.

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