What does it look like in your household around 7pm?
Do you flip a switch on your kids and say, “go brush your teeth, it’s bedtime?”
Or are you starting the process earlier and creating a smooth transition into your little ones’ bedtime routine?
I’ve talked, before, about how important a consistent bedtime routine is for kiddos, but now let’s talk about your family’s wind down time. Change is hard for a lot of kids (actually for people in general) but abrupt change is even harder to handle. Creating a calming, transitional wind down period is a good idea so that when bedtime happens, it won’t be this abrupt change that surprises your little ones.
What do I mean wind down time? What I recommend for my clients is that an hour before bedtime, they quiet their whole house down.
But what does that look like?
- Turn off all screens
- Dim lights
- Play soft, soothing music
- Only encourage calming activities
But make it your own! Does everyone have to play boring elevator music? No! Maybe soft soothing music to you and your family means Disney Lullabies or maybe it means instrumental acoustic versions of 90s alt rock.
Is coloring a peaceful activity for your kids? Or are they more of a puzzlehead? Do playing with blocks calm your toddler down or does the anticipation of knocking them over rile him up? This is your family’s wind down time so make it work for you! Make sure the activities that you offer your children are ones they enjoy so that this can be a time of day they can look forward to, not dread.
Some good pre-bedtime routine activities could be:
- Playing with playdoh or sand
- Building with blocks or other manipulatives
- Doing puzzles
- Stretching or doing yoga
- Coloring or drawing
- Memory or matching games
These are not activities meant to get your kids “wiggles” out. So if your child has a lot of energy, pent up inside, and you find they need to get it all out, make sure you offer activities, for that purpose, earlier in the afternoon or evening so that when it’s an hour before bedtime, your wind down can start.
If you’re not able to dim your lights, get creative. You can switch to lamp light instead of overheads. You can drape fabric over lights to soften the light exposure. And if possible, stick to warm colored lights at night.
By doing this, your little ones’ bodies will be prepped and ready to switch to sleepy time since they eased into it. By dimming your lights and switching off the screens, your body will actually biologically prepare itself for sleep by increasing its production of the “sleepy hormone,” melatonin. This hormonal release, along with the external cues of the wind down and bedtime routine, should make it much easier for your little one to fall asleep. 💜🧸