“Mommy, I need another drink of water.”
“I forgot to go potty!”
“My toe really itches.”
These and countless more cries right at bedtime can drag out a preschooler’s bedtime routine, and bring stress and frustration for you as the parent.
Just as your preschooler needs plenty of sleep, so you need some kid-free time after your preschooler goes to bed. But a poorly managed tuck-in time can imperil your preschooler’s sleep--and your sanity.
So what can you do to have a positive, stress-free bedtime routine? Consider these five tips.
1) Decide on a consistent bedtime
Preschoolers need routine and consistency. If at all possible, make bedtime the same time every night.
2) Make a list of things that need to be done before bedtime
Consider putting this list into writing at first, then mentally check each step off nightly. By checking through this list every night, you’ll avoid the many requests that come as soon as you turn the light out. Your list might include...
- Locating any special blankets or stuffed animals
- Changing into pajamas
- Brushing teeth
- Going potty
- Getting a small drink
3) Have a 30-minute wind-down time
This should be a time when your preschooler isn’t running around and shouting. Have him or her clean up playthings and quietly color or look at a book. Avoid letting him or her watch TV this close to bedtime.
4) Read a story
Ah, yes. The tried-and-true method of the bedtime story. There’s a reason why so many generations of parents have found this successful. Reading a story calms your child. You are cultivating the parent-child bond as your preschooler listens to the soothing sound of your voice.
You are also helping your child feel secure, as you are taking time to give her special attention. Bible story books, such as the Jesus Storybook Bible or The Big Picture Story Bible, are an especially great way to close the bedtime routine, since they can help cement these important truths into your child’s heart.
5) Enforce staying in bed
This might be the most important tip. Once in bed, the preschooler must stay in bed. If you allow your preschooler to get up after you have put him down to bed, you are simply training him to repeat this act every night, creating frustration for you and loss of sleep for your preschooler.
You will actually be doing yourself a favor by firmly not allowing her to get one last drink, or one last snack. If you have done everything on your pre-bedtime list, the exceptions to this rule should only be genuine emergencies.
Bedtime can be among the most precious moments a parent enjoys with his or her child. But if bedtime is mismanaged, it can end the day with stress and frustration. These few tips can help give you less stress and more snuggles.