1. Be gentle at bedtime

If your child is acting up at the moment at bedtime, seems a little more demanding, is taking longer to settle, wants to sleep in your bed with you, or is asking for an old comforter back, try not to get frustrated – this is their way of showing you that they need a little more love and reassurance right now. We are going through a very stressful time, and children will be picking up on all the stress and anxiety around them. They are having to deal with massive changes to their daily routine, and it is unsurprising if they need a little more reassurance at bedtime. Be gentle with them, and try not to lose patience.

Child sleeping in bed for Nurture Collective Blog tips for better bedtimes

2. Daylight and exercise.

Make sure your child gets plenty of natural daylight and exercise during the daytime. You will find this makes a big difference to how well (and for how long) they sleep, and how sleepy they feel at bedtime. Make sure they get outside during the daytime and are exposed to lots of natural daylight. Get them running around, skipping, jumping, cycling, playing catch, and generally doing as much exercise as possible. In addition to this, try to limit the amount of screen time and sugary foods they are given, especially the closer you get to bedtime because these things are not going to help them feel sleepy.

A child playing outside in the mud with trucks for Nurture Collective Blog tips for The better bedtime Blog

3. Don’t rush the bedtime routine.

Your bedtime routine is a transition period that takes your child from the “awake” part of their day, to the “asleep” part of your day, and it is very important that you don’t try to rush it. This transition period needs to be consistent and should begin and end at roughly the same time every day. Make sure you do the same things each day – a warm bath, putting on clean pyjamas, having a bedtime snack or milk, having a quiet play, and then finally having a bedtime story and some one-to-one time together. Your child will sense if you are trying to rush things, and this will put them on edge, and probably make them more resistant. Take your time, and keep things calm.

Parents cooking together mum holding the baby and letting the baby test the food from a pan in the kitchen for Nurture Collective blog

4. Reading at bedtime

Bedtime stories are a really important part of bedtime, and all parents should aim to read to their child every night before bed. You can take turns with your partner, encourage an older sibling to read to a younger sibling or let your child take a turn at reading out loud themselves. Reading just before bed is an extremely calming, soothing activity that encourages closeness and bonding, and also improves literacy skills. So choose a few favourite books, get nice and cosy on your child’s bed, and spend some time reading together

Mum reading daughter a bedtime story in bed before Nurture Collective Blog tips for The better bedtime Blog

5. Unpack your child’s “emotional backpack”

The last thing you should do before saying goodnight and turning out the lights is to help your child to unpack their “emotional backpack”. Children generally start each day afresh with a blank slate (think of them with an empty “backpack” on their back). By the end of the day they have accumulated all kinds of thoughts, worries, fears, memories, and experiences, that they are now carrying around with them (their “backpack” is now full and weighing them down). To help them relax and feel at peace, have a little talk with them about all the things they might be carrying with them in their “backpack” – maybe they got very upset during the day, or had a tantrum, maybe you had an argument, or they fell over and got hurt. Maybe they watched a really scary movie or heard something disturbing on the news. Maybe they heard you and your partner arguing, or are nervous about something that is going to happen tomorrow. Gently talk through whatever might be in their “backpack”, and reassure them that they have nothing to worry about, that you still love them, and that everything is going to be alright. This will help them to feel much more at peace and will make it easier for them to fall asleep.

mum and son eating breakfast together sharing a happy moment for Nurture Collective blog

Imogen Champion a Parenting Coach and Collaborating with Nurture Collective

Written by, Isobel Champion

Formerly a top London nanny, Isobel specializes in creating a calming environment for both parent and child. Having spent over a decade working with children and their families in London, she is a specialist in creating strategies and solutions for struggling parents, challenging behaviour, and developmental hurdles. Visit her website to know more!

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