Are your kids always too wired and full of energy when it’s time to sleep? Are you looking for ways to help your child relax at bedtime?
Both of our kids are full of energy and never give those sleepy signals that you are supposed to look for. Little M LOVES to chatter and knows every delaying tactic in the handbook when it comes to bedtime! A drink, a snack, night light on, door open, another sip of water… It’s easy to think that he’s not tired, but with his sparky nature, he can just keep going until he crashes.
Like all kids Little M really needs his sleep. So I’ve been working on ways to help him relax at bedtime – to make bedtime a more pleasant experience and to help him fall asleep more quickly and sleep better through the night.
Have bedtimes become a battle in your house? Are you looking for ways to help your kids relax at bedtime?
Here are 7 ways to help kids relax at bedtime (and sleep better) that I have found helpful…
Start the routine early
I have found this the key to everyone being more relaxed at bedtime. If we start the bedtime routine nice and early then I feel more relaxed and in turn that makes Little M more relaxed. It also allows for any delays so I can still be sure Little M will get to bed on time.
Every child is different and of course you don’t want to drag out the whole routine, but I find allowing 45 minutes for the bed time routine, instead of 30 minutes has made everything feel more relaxed. I think this is especially important for the ‘delayers’ until you get on top of their delaying tactics!
I also aim to have M in bed around 20-30 minutes before I would want him to be asleep, so that he has time to relax in bed before he goes to sleep. It’s unreasonable to expect kids to go to sleep immediately and it’s healthy for them to chill out by themselves for a few minutes before they drift off, especially if they have had a busy day.
Ensure sleep space is relaxing
It sounds obvious, but make sure that the sleep environment is dark, relaxing and conducive to sleep. No screens or bright lights in the room for example. Also involve your child in creating their sleep space – within reason of course! Little M likes to have a night light on in his room, so we gave him a soft red night light, as red lights have been shown to be less disruptive to sleep patterns. Some children may like white noise on in the room, or to have the door left open a crack. I found involving Little M in creating his sleep space has helped him to feel more relaxed. It’s also helped me to empathise with him at bedtime.
Make sure their tummies are full
Make sure your child has eaten a decent dinner, or had a bedtime snack if dinner was a long time before bed. Bananas are a good option for a bedtime snack as they are rich in sleep promoting potassium and a good source of carbohydrates.
Have a consistent routine
This is important for all kids, but especially for those who try all of the delaying tactics out there! For us the routine is pyjamas, teeth, books, potty and then a final song and relaxation exercise. I stick to this! Everyone’s routine is different. You may have a bedtime snack in your routine – that’s ok, but just be consistent with whatever you decide to do! Consistency and predictability is important for all kids, but especially for strong-willed kids who’ll benefit from the structure of the routine.
Do bed time routine in the bedroom
Doing the bedtime routine in the same space where children sleep helps them slowly unwind before bed. It’s a more gradual transition to sleep time. Pick any activities for your routine that work for you and your child. Pyjamas, books, songs and snuggles usually work well.
Spray lavender on their pillows
Lavender is one of the most relaxing herbs and safe to use with children. You can buy a sleep pillow spray or have a go at making your own. I’ve noticed since spraying lavender on Little M’s pillow he definitely falls asleep more quickly at night.
Finish with a relaxation exercise
To helps kids really relax right before sleep, finish with a relaxation exercise. This is simpler than it sounds! You just talk your child through a relaxing scene and describe it for them.
Little M loves it when we imagine he is lying on a beach. I ask him to close his eyes and imagine that he is lying on a soft, sandy beach, listening to the waves. I talk him though all of the things that he can see and hear, keeping my voice soft and calm. The clouds, the sky… Then, I talk him through brief reflections of his day.
Finally I ask him to stretch his body out from his toes right up to his head. Then I ask him to gradually relax his whole body, starting with his toes, then his legs and so on and finishing with his eyes. I tell him to ‘listen to his breathing’ and encourage him to breath in through his nose for 3 counts and out through his mouth for 3 counts.
This exercise really seems to relax him before bed and I love that I am helping him build the tools to calm himself. I think this is a great exercise for those kids who find it really hard to unwind and a bedtime story just isn’t cutting it! A relaxation exercise only takes a few minutes and works wonders!
That’s my 7 ways to help kids relax at bedtime.
Do you have any other tips to add? How do you help your kids relax at bedtime and sleep better?