Creating a consistent evening routine can help reduce the stress and challenging behaviours that increase around at this time of day. This is often related to fatigue (theirs and ours) and attempts to push the boundaries. Creating a routine makes the process more predictable, enforcing the routine helps children know where the boundaries lie and after the first few days you will find that they transition off to bed much more happily.
Some key points to consider include:
- Make sure that from dinner time on you are helping your child’s body wind down. To do this avoid sugar or processed treats after dinner.
- bringing dinner forward to 4pm and then having a snack or sandwich at 6.30 can also help keep everyone happy during dinner time.
- Dim the lights, turn on quieter music and turn off the tv
- Transition straight from the bath or shower to the bedroom as the water is very powerful in helping kids to calm
- Ensure that bath or shower time is relaxing by staggering it so one child goes at a time, using music, epson salts, essential oils or dim lighting to create a calming environment.
- Avoid using technology after dinner and use music instead.
- Make time to give each child your undivided attention for at least 5 minutes, this is the time that they crave your attention and when we give it to them before they have to ask, their body is more likely to settle. Try not to read stories or entertain them during this time. just snuggle, pat or ask them some gentle questions like what was the best part of your day, what are you grateful for or what would you like to dream about tonight. These intentions can help them go off to sleep happier. You may find abc kids listen (or similar podcast apps) helpful to play while you get around to each child, or to help them wind down before you enter their room to say goodnight.
A simple evening routine could include
- Dinner/supper (if you have early dinners)
- Bath / Shower
- Brush Teeth (while in bath or shower)
- Story /podcast / abc kids listen