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Friday, August 25, 2017

Get Ready for School--Start your Bedtime Routine now! by Trisha Roberts

If your child has not already started the school year, they will be shortly! It is extremely helpful to get them into a Bedtime Routine now--ideally a week or two before school starts. Much of this information was presented in my post last year, "Beat the Bedtime Battles", but it bears repeating.

One frustration I hear expressed repeatedly by parents is, “I have such a hard time getting my kids to go to sleep—it is a Battle!” From my own experience I have found that having a nighttime routine is very helpful.  Children learn the routine and are much more likely to fall asleep when they know what to anticipate. A scheduled bedtime also ensures that your child is getting the necessary hours of sleep required for good health.

 Your routine can be anything you want depending on the age of your child and the amount of time you feel that you can spend each evening.  The goal is to be CONSISTENT. When each activity has been completed, they know that sleep time has arrived!  It is like reading a book:  there is a beginning, a middle and an end.  When the routine ends, it is time to sleep! This was my Bedtime Routine:

·         BATHTIME:  Taking an evening bath is a great way to let a child relax and unwind.  They have a final time to play in a restricted environment (as opposed to running all over the house!).  For me, evening baths were always easier than morning baths when everyone is on a tight schedule for getting out the door to work, school, or appointments.

·         PREPARATION FOR TOMMOROW: After bath, while kids are putting on their PJ’s, I found it helpful to plan my child’s outfit for the next day.  I would offer 2 options (which were perfectly acceptable to me), and then let my child choose which outfit they wanted.  This allowed them an opportunity to learn decision making and also eliminated a fight in the morning!

·         SNUGGLE TIME: I loved having a large rocking chair in my children’s room when they were young.  It was a great place to curl up together, to experience cuddles, kisses and connection.  People need touch.  Children need touch—recent studies have shown that it is critical to a child’s development.  (See our blog post from last week regarding the importance of touch!)  Gently rubbing or massaging your child’s back, arm or legs can help them relax as well as feel loved and cared for.

·        SHARING:  Talk about their day.  Ask open-ended questions like, “What was the best thing that happened today?”  “What did you see today that made you happy/sad?” “What did you learn today?”

·         READ: Let your child pick 2 or 3 books to read. Many studies have shown the correlation of early exposure to books and stories with earlier and higher levels of literacy and success in school.  Children who love reading tend to learn to read earlier.  Children who read well usually do better in school. (See our blog post, "The Importance of Reading to Your Children," by Guest Blogger Meghan Ames).

·         SING: Sing 1-2 songs together.  Children’s songs, hymns, pop music, whatever you and your child like.  We have several great products at our retail site: 

·         PRAY:  Give your child an opportunity to express thankfulness. Let your child think about others and their needs. Help them recognize that God created them, cares about them and wants to be their Forever Friend.

·         KISSES AND LIGHTS OUT:  A final kiss and hug and then “lights out”.  Make it clear that this is the end.  Walk out of the door and don’t return.  There may be crying at first, but your child will learn that whining and crying can’t manipulate their parents into returning!  You don’t need to feel guilty and “cave in”!  You have just spent quality one-on-one time with your child.  You are now helping them meet a very important need in their life—sleep!

Start now to prepare your child for their school schedule--don't wait until the night before! Bedtimes don’t need to be a Battle!  They can be a wonderful time to develop a strong parent-child relationship.  As you talk, laugh, share, sing, read, and pray you will create cherished memories. It is a golden opportunity to bond and connect! 

Blog Administrator:  Trisha Roberts

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