Bonding at Bedtime

toddler reading bedtime

A bedtime routine can create a sense of calm and security for kids, allowing them to share about their day and bond with their parents. Your child needs good rest in order to learn, grow, and play. Establishing a bedtime routine is important for a child of any age and gives kids time to wind down, discuss their day, and snuggle with their parents at the end of the day.

Importance of a bedtime routine

A  bedtime routine is important for kids because it helps signal to their bodies that it’s time to settle down for the day. A good night of rest is not only essential for your child’s growth and development, but it also prepares them for another day of learning and exploring. Parents often create consistency with their babies that includes bathtime, snuggling, reading, and nursing or feeding them a bottle, but bedtime routines are just as important for kids of any age. As your child becomes more independent with their bath and brushing their teeth, you can still be there to read a story or chat about their day and give a goodnight hug and kiss. “When my daughter was little I always sat with her in the rocking chair and we would read a bedtime story every night. And to this day that girl reads a ton of books on top of college studies.” said Marci Mixan. Setting aside time for them to share their thoughts creates a bond over time and helps your child feel loved after a busy day.

Establishing a routine

Each family’s bedtime routine will differ based on their schedules and family dynamic. The important thing is to be consistent. Debbie Hardy shared that her kids would tell about their day, including the good, bad, and favorite, read a book, pray, and sing “You are My Sunshine”. Families may establish a routine of taking a bath, putting on pajamas, brushing teeth, and reading a book. As you tuck in your child, leave time to talk about the highs and lows of the day and what they are excited or nervous about the next day. Share a moment that made you proud of them, tell them you love them, and give them a kiss goodnight. Some parents may sing a song, turn on a music box before bed, or say a bedtime prayer. The routine may even vary with different children, especially if they are different ages. Larger families may decide to read books together, to stagger bedtimes, or to have one parent read to one child and the other parent read to another child, taking turns each night. How the routine looks isn’t important, what is important is that it is consistent and it works for your family.

“I put a little table in the baby’s room so they can color while I feed him and rock him to sleep. That is their wind down time because they have to be quiet.” said Ashley Frew, Olathe mom of three. “They have an evening and morning chart (jammies, brush teeth, clean up toys, etc). They check each one of those off as they do it. They each pick out one of the library books we got for the week. They share a room, so I read both books while they’re laying in bed, warm up their Warmies, and they go to sleep.”

Open conversation

After a long, busy day it’s tempting for parents to quickly tuck their children in and get back to their eventing. While this is necessary sometimes, it can mean missing an opportunity to have conversations with your kids and discuss topics they may not open up about any other time. Amy Cameron, Olathe mom of three says she reads books but stops to talk when important subjects come up. She said they also have a secret handshake that they do before bed. When you are tucking your child in at night, ask them questions about their day. “How did your science test go?” or “Who did you sit with at lunch?” You can also help them review the day by asking questions like “It was fun to see grandma today wasn’t it?” or “It was disappointing when your team lost the game wasn’t it?” Point out some things you can look forward to tomorrow, let them know you love them, or just listen to what they want to say.

Some families may feel that bedtime is difficult. Maybe your child won’t stay in their room or asks for multiple cups of water, bathroom breaks, says they are scared, or simply won’t settle down. Try to establish a routine and be patient. If your child says they are scared, lay down with them for a short while. If they want a drink of water, allow one. Set up a calming and safe atmosphere where you and your child can unwind from a busy day and spend time talking without distractions. You and your child can work as a team to make bedtime less stressful and create a time for bonding.

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