Relaxing Bedtime RitualsAsk some parents what the worst time of day with their children is, and many of them will answer with a resounding “Bedtime!”
This is one event that can last from a few minutes to several hours, with many mothers feeling so totally exhausted by the time their child falls asleep that all they want to do is climb into their own beds at a time when they should be relaxing and winding down with some much-needed “alone” time.
How can you make bedtime less of a chore and more relaxing for you and your child? Well maybe you should try some soothing bedtime rituals that slowly relax your child so that they can fall asleep on their own. Children feel secure when they have regular routines; they know what to expect and family rituals that you establish in your home give your child a sense of belonging. Feeling calm before bedtime may also reduce incidences of bedwetting.
Here are some ideas for developing a regular relaxing bedtime routine:
- Establish a regular time to begin your nightly bedtime routine and be consistent; consistency helps everyone know what to expect.
- Begin with a warm bath to initiate the relaxation process. After the bath, perform the tooth brushing and hygiene routine and have your child use the bathroom for the last time.
- After your child is dressed for bed, have him or her lie down for a gentle massage. During this time, you can sing to your child or briefly discuss the good parts of his or her day. Keep it upbeat and positive.
- Read a bedtime story to further relax your child. Sometimes they will even fall asleep at this point because they are so relaxed!
- Say a prayer with your child, thanking God for the blessings of the day and asking for His blessings on family members and those who are sick or in need of some extra attention.
- Make sure your child has that favorite stuffed animal, doll or blanket to cuddle with as they fall asleep.
- As you leave your child, use the same goodnight phrase, such as, “I love you – pleasant dreams!”
- Plan for what you will do if your child gets out of bed after you have said your final goodnight. Be firm and get them right back to bed – no stalling!
The Sleep Book for Tired Parents, by Rebecca Huntley, offers additional practical tips to help ease your child into a regular bedtime routine.
Dr. Paul Groulx, Ottawa Chiropractor and father of two daughters is familiar with childrens’ bedtime routines and reminds everyone to make “family first!”