Bedtime routines are important, no matter the age of your child. There are no set rules on what a bedtime routine needs to look like, as each family and child will have different needs, however, the repetitive motions of what happens before a child goes to bed, help them to not only understand that it will soon be time to go to sleep, but it will help them wind down and feel more comfortable with the process.
kids needs structure
As do adults. However, a child’s schedule is determined by their caregiver, giving them little to no say over what is happening. Because of this, a structured bedtime routine helps them to know what is coming next, giving them security and allowing them to calm down enough to get ready for sleep.
I have 2 kids. Timothy is 5 and Ethan is 1. Their bedtime routine looks different but is very much the same every night.
We let him know it’s time to start getting ready for bed soon by giving him a 5-minute warning. This gives him the opportunity to bring his playtime to a close. We then go upstairs for a quick tidy-up of his room, followed by brushing his teeth, going to the washroom, washing his hands and changing into his pajamas. Then he hops onto his bed and gets his bedtime story, then 5 pages of his Children’s Bible. Prayers, hugs and kisses are handed out and he goes Pee one last time (and washes his hands). He gets tucked into bed, asks a couple questions and hands out another round of hugs and kisses. His bedtime routine generally takes about 30 minutes.
We let him know it’s almost bedtime as well. While his understanding may not be there, we want to create the habit of letting him know. We then clean his G-Tube Site, give his meds, change his diaper, put on his O2 monitor, change him into Pajamas. He currently gets a sweet little talk about how much he’s loved, prayers, gets hooked up to his feed and placed into his bed. Even at this age, he knows when those things happen in that order, sleep will soon follow and we can generally see that awareness in him with how he behaves.
Confusion brings battles
When children don’t know what’s next they start to feel confused, scared, anxious. Those often turn into many battles fought as the child lashes out. We need to remember that children are still trying to figure out their emotions, so anxiety could look like a massive tantrum. When they know what’s coming, they feel more secure, often avoiding the need for battles, which can make bedtime a much better experience.