The fast way to get happy kids is to get rested kids, yet getting kids to go to sleep is often one of the hardest things in parenting. Just when we get kids to bed they want a drink, need a hug or have to go to the bathroom. They’re up, and we have to put them back down. And the whole time we just want a little bit of peace in our evening.
Here are three steps to help:
- Prepare for sleep. We have to prepare our kids for sleep hours before it’s time to go to bed. First, make sure kids don’t have caffeine in the evening. Second, it’s important to cut off electronics: iPads, computer games and television an hour before bedtime. The unnatural brightness of screens makes it hard for the body to prepare for sleep. A body’s melatonin is released by darkness, and unnatural light makes it hard to wind down.
- Set up a routine. Kids love routine. Set up a schedule that is easy. Before you start the routine, take time to explain it to the kids. For my kids, they always look forward to the snack, and then the reading time.
Here are some steps that you can take. We follow this routine:
– Give a warning 15 minutes ahead of time
– Relaxing bath
– Put on pajamas
– Brush teeth
– Small drink and bathroom
– Diffuse lavender essential oil
– Give kids a chance to talk about their day. (I’ve found that if I give them 5-10 minutes to share about their day then they have an easier time quieting down during reading time.)
I read a few picture books to my younger kids, and then I turn off the light and read a longer chapter book on my Kindle or phone in the dark. Most of the time the kids are asleep (or close to asleep) by the time I get to the end of the chapter.
Some favorite chapter books we’ve read are:
The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Betsy Tacy Series by Maud Mart Lovelace
Anne of Green Gables Series by LM Montgomery
The Henry Huggins books by Beverly Cleary
Wings of Dawn by Sigmund Brouwer
The Chronicles of Naria by C.S. Lewis
Mr. Poppers Penguins’ by Richard and Florence Atwater
- Be consistent. It might take time for kids to get used to the routine, but the more you are consistent, the more kids will look forward to the routine. You will be able to look forward to a peaceful evening with your kids and after they’re asleep.
Rested kids are happy kids … and happy parents.
Walking in Him,