Dinnertime is over. The kitchen is now closed, and the clock is edging towards the late evening hours. But little voices can still be heard in whispers or shouts depending upon what your household looks like after the sun goes down or shortly before.
For some parents, the evening time can turn a blissful day into a disastrous nightmare especially if no type of bedtime routine has been established.
Creating an evening stability with expectations of when children should be in bed not only makes the morning go more smoothly, but also has a great impact on children and their overall behaviors.
“Children who have irregular bedtimes are more likely to have behavioral issues than children who have a regular bedtime routine. A survey of 10,000 children showed that irregular bedtimes are linked with difficulties such as hyperactivity, acting out and being emotionally withdrawn.” (npr.org)
On average, children between the ages of 5-12 need 10-12 hours of sleep especially if they are actively involved during the school day and since their melatonin begins to rise between 7-8pm, it’s only natural to settle down for the night around the same time.
Begin by turning off screens and dimming lights about thirty minutes before you want your child to go to bed. By turning the lighting level down, the body is given the opportunity to produce more melatonin, it’s natural sleep ingredient, which in turn helps the body relax and eventually fall into a deep slumber.
A simple bedtime routine should include a consistent set time for the weeknights and weekends, and expectations of what needs to be done before heading into bed. (i.e. brushing teeth, get a drink of water, etc) Most school age children are suppose to read for a certain amount of time each day. Why not incorporate that time into your child’s nightly routine? You not only establish a set time, but also a life-long habit of reading. If children are not in school, bedtime can still be a great time to read to your child and spend quality one on one time with them which they truly love, want, and need.
Children demand to have structure in their lives and rightly so. After all, that is how God created us, to have order in our lives. “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1Corinthians 14:40)
Going back to school and getting into the habit can be challenging, and so can establishing a bedtime routine. But, stick to it, pursue it, and when it’s all said and done, I believe you will be grateful that you stood firm and planted a nightly bedtime routine.