Do you ever get that feeling that you’re doing absolutely everything you can to make bedtime go smoothly and everything still seems to go wrong at the end of the day? When you’re trying hard to be consistent about a routine, it can feel very frustrating when you face a meltdown every night and when your little one just can’t seem to settle.
In many cases, among all our great efforts and best intentions, there are little mistakes we are making that can sabotage our entire success. The following are some of the most common things we do in the hopes of making things better for our kids when we’re actually making things harder for ourselves and our children at the same time.
- We’re not as consistent as we think we are – When you say you’re consistent about your child’s bedtime and waking time, the odds are that you mean only weekdays or school days. Most of us are inclined to let kids stay up later when they don’t have daycare, preschool, or school the next day. Breaking the routine on those days means we’re not actually as consistent as we tell ourselves we are. Keeping your child’s natural sleeping and waking clock set every day – not just on school nights – helps to make it easier for them to feel tired at the same time every night, awake at the same time in the morning, and less likely to struggle to get a good night of rest.
- We don’t spend enough time winding down – If your child is still wakeful, simply putting him or her into bed isn’t enough to make him or her restful. Winding down is a vital part of the bedtime routine. It should involve quiet activities in dim lighting. This helps to encourage the production of melatonin – a natural hormone responsible for the body’s sleeping and waking cycle (circadian rhythm) – and therefore restfulness at the right time. Encourage your child to start winding down about an hour before bedtime.
- We consider bath time separate from the bedtime routine – Baths before bed, especially when using gentle, natural products with soothing scents such as chamomile or lavender, can encourage restfulness at night. The warmth and the relaxation from the bath – as well as the regularity of it – can boost the effectiveness of a bedtime routine as a whole.
- We skip story time together – Starting very young, enjoying stories from books or simply sharing stories you know is a wonderful way to wind down in bed after bath time while taking part in quality time together. Regular bedtime story time can help to build an even closer relationship between you and your little one while being soothing overall.
- We make the sleeping environment too stimulating – At the same time that we want to make a child’s bedroom fun, it’s also important to remember that it is a sleeping environment. Make sure that the bedding is soft and comfortable, that your child has a toddler pillow or a youth pillow suited to his or her age and size, that the room is kept just slightly cool. Make the room quite dark, with a night light only if necessary. Make sure the night light provides the least amount of light possible to make sure that your little one can make safe trips to the bathroom in the night. Anything brighter could disturb sleep.
By correcting these little mistakes, we can encourage a much more restful night of sleep for our little ones each night. Keep them up consistently for improved restfulness over time.