How to Establish a Bed Time Routine for Children
A consistent bed time routine should be a cornerstone of your overall family routine. The benefits for you and your children are countless and your children will benefit from at least 11 hours sleep a night. It will also ensure you and your partner can get a proper amount of time together.
Studies show that children who don’t have a bed tie routine set in stone are most likely to struggle in school. Children with no regular bed time at age 7 or who went to bed later than 9pm were found to have lower scores for reading and mathematics. This should be evidence enough that bed time and sleep matter and you need to set up a bedtime routine for your children.
Setting up an effective bed time
Bed time is dependent on your children but up to 7.30pm is the recommended best time for children aged up to five and then range between 8pm and 9pm for children aged up to 12. Our steps below are guidelines for a bed time routine which should take between 30 and 45 minutes to complete.
- Encourage calm and relaxing games and time before bed time. Suggest reading and quiet puzzles rather than competitions and running about.
- Remind your child regularly that ‘it’s nearly bed time’
- Organise schoolbags and get ready for the morning so children realise the importance of getting sleep to be up early in the morning.
- Start the bed time routine with a bath to help your child or children relax. Older girls and boys can help bathe their younger siblings so everyone is involved together.
- Keep providing simple reminders so your children are aware of what’s next. Ensure you’ve got your boy’s favourite pyjamas or girl’s favourite nightie lined up ready for when they go into their bedroom so they understand what’s next.
- Never hurry your children, let them take their time but remind them what comes next.
- Keep the lights down low in the bedroom and read a story together. Take the time to listen to their thoughts and feelings and tell them something special about the day or themselves so they can go to sleep on a positive note.
- Have a final kiss and cuddle and then put the lights out, if your child has a fear of the dark switch on the night light or leave the hall light on.
If you have more than one child then stagger bed time slightly so each child can have a private one-to-one bed time and you can speak to them individually and discuss their day. The individualised bed time routine is much more effective than bundling them all in together and they’ll appreciate it more and you’ll have less of a chance of seeing them again in the evening.
This routine should set you in good stead with children of any age and will help them understand the importance of sleep. They’ll wake up more refreshed in the morning and you’ll be happier with a few hours free in the evenings.