So you’ve had a manic day and you’re looking forward to a quiet evening with your partner and a glass of chilled wine while the kids sleep soundly – but the bedtime routine is getting longer and longer and your nights are getting later and later.
Time to speed up bedtime! Find out how with these top tips…
- Keep a set routine – it will signal to the kids that it’s sleep time and help you to plan how long it will take (and how to cut that time down).
- Bring everything forward – they’ll soon get used to eating tea earlier, but the risk is you might have to deal with earlier mornings.
- Play some soft music to help them wind down after a busy day – it will also calm you down too!
- Don’t let your partner come in half-way through and disrupt the calm. Wait until they’re sleepy and let him slip in for a kiss.
- If you’re starving or desperate to take your heels off and have a cup of tea, delay bedtime until you’ve had chance for a drink and a snack. It will make you less ratty and the whole process will be smoother and quicker.
- There are certain times when you may need to make some sort of deal with you child. It’s not ideal, but it works. Let them know that if they do as they’re told and go to bed early then they’ll earn a (small) treat the next day.
- Do they have to have a bath every night? If it’s late and you’re tired, skip the bath.
- If your children are looking particularly boisterous then put all the clocks forward by half an hour and tell them they can stay up an extra 15 minutes. They’ll be excited but will actually be in bed 15 minutes early!
- Act like bedtime is a game and set an alarm clock by the bath and ask your little one to see if they can get ready for bed as fast as they can and beat the clock.
- If the kids keep getting out of bed, don’t spend your evening returning them – try just ignoring them and getting on with things. They’ll realise they’re not getting your attention and hopefully take themselves back to bed eventually.
- Don’t start tidying their bedroom before you settle them to sleep – avoid the delay and leave mess until another time.
- Stick to the rules – if it’s only one story or song, don’t give in to more pressure.
- Don’t start complicated discussions with your child about their behaviour, or warn them about upcoming events – particularly anything that’s likely to be traumatic. Tears will slow everything down!
- If they get out of bed, tell them they have to help you dust, fold washing, write thank-you cards, wash up, clean floors etc. That’s bound to send them back in a hurry.
- Tell the children you are going to bed now too and if necessary put your pyjamas on to prove it. Once they realise they’re not missing anything they are more likely to settle – and it wouldn’t hurt to get yourself in bed by 8pm for a change anyway!