Bedtime can be a very special time. It can be a time of getting to know your child better. Or it can be a battle of wills where everyone misses out.
There is no perfect formula for bedtime routines, however children thrive most when they know what is expected of them and when the adults caring for them stick as close as possible to the rules that are set.
A regular bedtime - that parents stick to - give the bedtime ritual stability. Not only that, but research has found that going to bed at the same time every night sets your body clock so you actually get tired around that time. The extra bonus is that regular sleep habits mean better, more restful sleep.
Chaotic work schedules sometimes do not permit parents to be home early enough to have a consistent bedtime for the kids and that can throw everything off. This can confuse children.
If possible, when you have to work late try to get a babysitter who can put the kids to bed at the regular time. You can always sneak in for a hug and a kiss when you get home. If your work schedule changes frequently, the children will grow accustomed to that. They will learn how to be flexible and that is a good quality to instill.
It is natural for children to want to be important. Regardless of what time bedtime ends up being, try to incorporate some alone time into your last minutes of the day together. To avoid resentment from your children and to reassure them that you do have time for them, try a few of these ideas:
A bedtime story is a sure fire way to relax your child and get some quality cuddling in! Pick out a few books ahead of time that are not too full of action and stimulation. Then present the books to your child. Letting your child choose the book gives him or her opportunity to learn how to make choices. If the same book gets chosen night after night, that is okay. It might get boring or repetitive for you but children like familiar things. Reading the same book also helps children learn to read.
Each one of my four children has a favorite lullaby that I must sing. What is interesting is that each has a different favorite! Sometimes I try to change things around and sing something else for the sake of variety but it never works.
Find out which song your child likes, or even make one up, and make that part of your special time together. As my four year old once told me when I tried to get out of singing one night since my throat was sore, “That's okay Mommy. I can still hear your voice.”
When children relate going to bed with getting reassurance and love from the people
they love, bedtime is a lot easier.
also see in Health -> Child Development
About the Author...
Katrina Cramer-Diaz is a working mom with a background in education and plenty of experience in parenting. She lives in Virginia with her four children and works for the Virginia Beach Public Schools.
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