Ten tips for a smoother bedtime with young children.
Bedtime can be one of the most stressful times of day. Everyone is tired, your children may all be needing a lot of connection from you, at the same time, and your well of patience has run dry.
Combining the needs of different age ranges, from little babies, to manic bouncing toddlers, to older children, who have patiently been waiting for a little one on one time with you is really tough.
Routines have never worked for my family. I remember consulting those sleep charts with my eldest, wondering why he needed at least 2 hours less than the specified amounts. He’s 9 now and still needs a lot less than the others. Any time I tried, what I thought would be a really lovely routine, it just caused me and my son a whole lot of stress. I didn’t even attempt it with my younger ones. (I’ve always been secretly jealous of those who nail this though.)
I’ve muddled through, learning so much along the way, and now our bedtimes are actually really rather lovely and enjoyable for us all.
Here’s my 10 practical tips that have helped me through the tough times.
1. Accept that life with young children is messy. They cry, they shout, they fight, they embarrass you in public. Releasing the need to make everything perfect is so freeing, and often once you do this, everything clicks into place.
2. Be flexible, think outside the box. If they don’t want to put their PJs on, do they really need to? If they’re clearly really tired but don’t want to go to bed, would they enjoy going for a drive? Often this will relax them enough to fall asleep in the car then you can carry them to bed
3. Be playful and inventive. If they don’t want to brush their teeth can you make it into a game? Searching for their favourite characters in their mouth was always popular when mine were younger. Chewable brushes helped as a last resort when they couldn’t be tempted. We often brush our children’s teeth whilst they’re watching TV. We never forced them, and now they are all very happy and willing to brush their teeth.
4. Fill your metaphorical cup. Take 5 minutes (or longer if you can), to meditate, do Yoga, deep breaths, a Crystal layout, make your own Crystal Aura spray with calming essential oils and spritz it all over you, walk barefoot in the garden, anything that works to calm and relax you, before bedtime. Make sure you’ve had a snack and a drink too, to avoid any Hangry parent tantrums.
5. If you have a baby, try baby wearing. I’ve spent many an evening, with a baby strapped on my front, a toddler on my back, and reading a story to older ones, whilst bouncing up and down. Make sure you take a selfie to remind yourself how awesome you are.
6. Go with the flow, and constantly adapt to changing needs. There’s a tricky age somewhere between 1 and 3 years, where daytime napping goes crazy. If they nap in the day, then they don’t sleep until midnight, if they don’t they have meltdowns all afternoon. It’s a difficult time. It does get better, it really does, but navigating that time with an air of acceptance makes it so much easier. Self-care is so important at these times.
7. Get the crazy manic hour done before you get too tired. My children get a wild burst of energy shortly before they get tired. This can be so much fun, and a really lovely way to connect in the evenings, as long as you aren’t exhausted. Cushion fights, jumping on the trampoline, playful wrestling, running races (not against each other- that always ends in tears, I use my phone stop watch and they try and beat their personal best)
8. Prepare for transitions. Some children find transitions really hard. The trick is to always have something to look forward to. Instead saying it’s time for bed, try lets go and read a story (always good to have a new exciting one from the library to look forward to), or lets light a bedtime candle, have a Massage, or Crystal healing. Basically anything involving you being with them.
9. Talk with them about bedtimes. What would they like to do before they go to bed. How can you make it more enjoyable for you both?
10. Create a relaxing environment in the bedroom. My children all have their own little Crystal Angels by their beds, Dream Catchers, herbal pillows, a calming Crystal Grid. I’ve mastered the art of reading whilst simultaneously giving mini- foot massages with Lavender Oil.
I hope you’ve found some of these ideas helpful. I’d love to hear yours too, I’m always learning!!
With Love and Crystal Blessings
PS My Bliss Before Bedtime Guided Meditation for Stressed Out Parents Is Available To Download For Free Now