6 Bedtime Habits For Our Kiddos During This Hard Season
It feels like we have been living in a constant spring/summer break. It is the spring break that never ended and the summer that won let up.
We have swam past dark, eaten copious amounts of junk, stayed up late, slept in, stayed in PJ's too many days, had far past the recommended amount of screen time, and had little to no routine.
And here we are, late August and still in what feels like the twilight zone. Will it ever end? Will we ever go back to what we knew before? I am hopeful but I have low expectations as to when. Why? Because as William Shakespeare said "Expectations are the root of all heartache." So, when I lower them and then someone exceeds them I usually feel delighted instead of disappointed.
With all of that said, most kids are back to school...virtually that is. Some are in person with a very different type of environment. Nonetheless, we as parents have all been hanging on by a thread through lockdowns and quarantines and kids under our feet 24/7. As much as part of my coping and their coping over the last 5 months has been many "yes's" to things we normally don't do, I know now as we enter school again, we have to get back to a bit of a routine. Most kids thrive in a scheduled environment. Routines give them a sense of security and help them develop self-discipline. I, like most parents, want that for my kids too.
So, back to it and I consulted my dear friend Lauri Leadley, the founder and CEO of Valley Sleep Center to help me re-establish a better bedtime routine so that we can handle this very hard and trying season while now back in "school" with more ease and more strength. She equipped me with some great tools to add into our evenings to ensure that we thrive and treat our sleep health importantly.
Most of us adults thrive in a routine type setting as well. We like basic structure and a plan as to what our day may look like. I think there is a fine line between too rigid and a solid routine. If you have followed me for some time you know that my rigid ways were the detriment to me. I had to undo many of my strict rules within my routine to find the middle gear again. I still want fun and spontaneity and a little wiggle room as well. This takes time to create and trial and error. If your neighbor loves color-coded charts and it works for them, then YAY, let her do her thing...if you despise them but have another way, then you do you, sis. THIS is how we begin to create our own joy. Your schedule you create and routine you have for your kids will be the best because YOU know your kids best.
With that said, these 6 bedtime habits are helping us get back into the swing of things again. They are never perfect and some days we don't do them all but we stay really consistent with a few and our bedtime stays on track no matter what.
The result? Happier and more easy-going kids. My 7-year-old daughter thrives with this type of routine otherwise she becomes a pre-menopausal woman. YIKES. Lord, help me more on those days.
We try and stick to this or most of these during the weekdays that way we really look forward to fun and flexibility on the weekends.
6 HABITS TO BEGIN TONIGHT
- Gratitude chat- we love doing this. It is usually our discussion at dinner or as we tuck the kids in bed. "What made you grateful today? What was a win that made you smile?" We want to get their little minds to focus on the good before they fall asleep. I want to leave their minds filled with positivity and this helps set that tone. As they get older I will work on helping them learn to journal but for us at this stage it is perfect. You know how I feel about gratitude. It will change everything in your life for the better. It is a mindset and the earlier we model this for the kids and get their minds to go there first, the more likely they will always revert to this way.
- Create a Worry Jar- our kids are living in weird times and for most of them this is so hard. They see the news even when we try to keep it from them. We have harder conversations about what is going on so that we can guide them through this. Their little minds are worrying more than they should. Lauri suggests this as a great way to brain dump their worries and get them out of their heads and hearts plus it is a great way to open up conversations so they always feel safe sharing their hearts with you.
- Stick to the same bedtime and the same wake-up time each day- Like I said, this one we are super flexible on the weekends with because we plan for fun and some spontaneity but during the week we don't veer far from our set time for bed. It truly is what keeps these kids from waking up salty. Same time, every night.
- Power Down Hour- I immediately began this once Lauri suggested it. It is one of those things I am still working on for me because I know it is so important. We don't do electronics or video games or phones or computers with the kids an hour before bed. And lights dimmed around the house to set the tone of "winding down." Again, this is a big goal for me, I don't utilize this as much for me and know when I finally create a habit with this my sleep too will continue to get better.
- Bath or a hot shower- Most nights each kiddo spends some time decompressing in the shower or bath. This also helps increase melatonin naturally which helps to initiate and maintain sleep.
- Prayers and affirmations- We are big on this in our house. As parents, my husband and I's top goal is to lead our kids to God. I want them to run to Him always and work towards that relationship everyday. When that relationship is intact so much of life seems less fearful and more hopeful. So, we pray every night. It's always in the kids hands and we allow them to take the lead on talking to God before bed. As they have grown older it is one of the greatest fruits to see bloom from this consistent habit. We also recite affirmations every night. My husband started this when my son was 3 years old. We want them both to see themselves through the eyes of God instead of the opinions that one day may be hurled their way from the world. If we affirm them every night, we pray they believe those truths over anything the world may try to negate it with. Each kiddo has an affirmation we all came up with and now, all these years later, they can recite it by memory. Yes, they have memorized it but I believe they know it in the depths of their hearts as the truth. Create one with your kids and print it out so they can see it every day.
Lastly, one other nugget, when the kids first started school several years ago we got these little whiteboards for their rooms. They have a few simple morning tasks to complete their morning routines. I.E. beds made, dog fed etc. It gives them direction early in the morning when they wake up and the feeling of little wins before the day even begins. Plus, one day they need to be able to make a darn bed and there is no reason they should not learn that as early as can be. I hope their future spouses will thank me for that one, one day.
And as always, I never want to share these messages with the idea that we are perfect at this. We are not. But we try consistently everyday with the mentality of progress over perfection. We know not every evening will go as planned but it doesn't give us the excuse to not try.
We all want healthy, adaptable, thriving kids and I believe these little investments every evening do pay off in dividends.
To learn more about kids and sleep health please reach out to my friend Lauri with Valley Sleep Center...she really is a sleep ninja!