A good bedtime routine for children can be one of the most challenging things for parents to establish. It can also be stressful for parents every day, trying to convince kids to wind down and get to bed. Many parents are willing to try anything to get their kids into bed without experiencing rising blood pressure and anxiety when bedtime comes. Here are a few ideas parents have shared that help them get their kids tucked into bed with less resistance.
1. Animal Sleeping Bags
This parent found that a critter-shaped sleeping bag helped her create a story that interested her child and got him to run into bed every night.
“I made my son a shark (sleeping bag) for Christmas. Now every night, we just tell him it’s time to feed the shark. He happily crawls into said shark and sometimes we give the shark other “snacks” to eat. The snacks being other, smaller stuffed friends. Tonight our shark is eating another shark, the 5yo, and a horse I think. It has cut down our fights over bedtime by a significant number.”
2. Adopt a Stuffy
Stuffed animals may not do the trick of getting kids to bed. But the idea of adopting a pet and becoming their ‘caretaker’ or ‘parent’ could motivate them to be more responsible at bedtime.
“My son’s kindergarten teacher gave them all little stuffed dogs, along with an adoption certificate that they signed promising to read to the dog daily. So now my son hurried to get in bed for reading time to make sure he follows that promise.”
One parent really loved this idea:
“This is awesome! Gonna share it with my local primary school FB group.”
Many parents believe that kids need to ‘wind down’ at night before bed, meaning they must be calm and still. Many think that if they start running around and playing before bedtime, they will only get more hyper and worked up. But some parents realize that this isn’t working for their children. Any pent-up energy they still have will make it even more challenging to get them to bed.
“What works for my younger kids? A bed time story each, a silly game where we call out to Daddy and hide under the sheets and jump out to scare him when he asks, “Where is everyone? I can’t see them.” Sometimes we have a little romp and wrestle on the bed if there’s heaps of energy left. I’ve also heard from somewhere, that a lot of kids use physical activity (I.e. wrestling and running around the house before bed time) as a way to regulate their nervous systems before they go to sleep. If there’s any truth to that – then it makes sense to let them do what they need in order to get quality sleep.”
“We do this sort of thing too. Even as a little baby I found that my daughter needed some pretty serious movement to settle sometimes or she would just work herself up into a screaming mess. This led to the leg-crank method. When I was holding her and I could feel her getting wriggly I’d take one leg and crank it up and down. This got the wiggles in one place and let the rest of her body relax, and hey presto – sleep! Now that she’s older we run the wriggles out, or wrestle them out or lay on the floor together and relax in a way that we’re touching, but her body isn’t restrained by a cuddle. It depends on the day.”
“100%! My older son especially gets wound up at bedtime. Even when he was a baby, he would get agitated before sleep. The other night I had him do 100 jumping jacks before his bedtime story.”
4. Trick Them
Of course, tricking your kids into going to bed can only last so long. They will catch on eventually as they grow, but take advantage of it for as long as it works!
“I just conditioned my children to think their daily fish oil tablets were “sleeping tablets” The placebo has worked wonders for both but this sounds good, too!”
One parent excited to try this bedtime hack commented:
“Genius. I like it I like it a lot. You are an Angel!!”
5. Turn Bedtime into Playtime
Kids would rather play than get ready for bed. So why not turn getting ready for bed into a little game?
“What seems to work is making getting ready for bed a playtime-like event. Recently my son has started showing his stuffed animals how he gets ready for bed. Each night it’s a different animal.”
6. Play a Song
Playing a song like a signal to start getting ready for bed may help kids accept the time rather than parents telling them repeatedly. It’s even better if it’s one of their favorite songs, and even better if it gets them to dance around while getting read and burn some more energy.
“We started using a song to signal that it’s time to get ready for bed. It’s now called the “pretty pretty princess time for bed” song…. it’s relieved fighting with both of our girls about bedtime.”
7. Customize Your Bedtime Hacks
Parents need to recognize that every child is different, and the same hacks won’t work for everyone, especially older children. Customize your bedtime routines in a way that helps each child find a way to relax and get ready for bed that works for everyone.
“My 13-year-old likes to watch a comedy show with us on the couch after his younger brothers have gone to bed. He gets his last bit of energy out by having big belly laughs and jokes with us.”
Some parents pointed out that these tips will only work temporarily, and kids will get tired of them. If it isn’t too much, change things and try different ideas. It’s much easier to put effort into the bedtime routine than to listen to kids whine and complain about not wanting to go to bed.
What bedtime routine works for your family?
Bedtime hack ideas are courtesy of Reddit.
Feature image: copyright Yuganov Konstantin via Canva.