Tips for a stress-free bedtime routine on a school night
Whether a child is embarking of their first term at primary school, or they are busy preparing for SAT exams, a good bedtime routine can have huge benefits for school-aged children.
Bedtime routines are a great way to encourage children to relax and unwind after a busy day as well as establishing and maintaining good sleep habits, so they wake up rested and refreshed ready to face the day ahead. For this article, we spoke to bloggers for their tips on how to create a soothing and stress-free bedtime routine.
Try and tackle homework early
After a long day, it can be tempting to put homework off until the last moment, however, tackling projects or assignments earlier in the evening can help make the rest of the night run smoothly.
We spoke to Luke, 11, and his mum Catherine from What Luke Did Next about how their family goes about completing homework: “I try and do my homework as soon as I have had a drink and a snack after school as I find that if I am on the computer too late it is much harder to sleep”, says Luke.
“I also find that the later I leave it, the more I can't sleep thinking about things I should have done. I keep some paper and a pen near my bed so if I can't get to sleep for thinking about something then I can write it down and forget about it. I always read for about half an hour before bed too which helps me relax and then I play white noise when I go to sleep which I find it helps a lot”, he added.
Ensure children tuck into a nourishing meal
Schoolchildren are constantly on the go; busy making new friends and absorbing lots of new information from school.
Many children are hungry by the time they get home, so there is no harm in giving a small snack to help take the edge off until supper time.
Popular afterschool snacks which won’t spoil their appetite
· Peanut butter with apple slices
· Fruit kebabs
· Cucumber and carrot with hummus
· Eggy bread
· Rice cakes with a variety of toppings
· A mini pitta-bread cheese pocket
Once snacks have been eaten and homework has been completed, start thinking about supper time. Children should be encouraged to eat a varied diet which includes fruit, vegetables, starchy carbs like rice, pasta and bread, as well as proteins like meat, egg and fish. Choose My Plate advises that processed soy products like nuts and seeds are also considered to be part of the protein food group.
Quick and tasty supper ideas for children
· Scrambled eggs, toast and grilled tomatoes
· Chicken and vegetable stir fry
· Toad in the hole
· Spaghetti and meatballs
· Beef stroganoff
· Tuna pasta bake with rainbow vegetables
Allow some downtime
Allowing children to watch an episode of their favourite television program after they have eaten is a good way to give them some downtime. However, it is best to avoid screen time directly before bed as this could hinder their sleep, suggests the National Sleep Foundation. “Although your kids may not realise it, the artificial blue light that’s emitted from these screens can suppress the body’s release of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, thus increasing alertness and resetting your child’s internal clock (or circadian rhythm) to a later timetable.”
There are other ways to ensure children get some downtime, including playing board games, reading, or taking part in extracurricular activities. Having downtime for any child is important because it allows them time to recuperate, refresh their minds and relax. Yoga Calm believes downtime is key for children: “While most all of us are conscious of the need for downtime – weekends, the occasional ‘mental health day,’ vacations, and the like – to decompress from the pressures and demands of our everyday lives (whether we claim and embrace that downtime or not), it’s easy to forget that kids need this just as much.”
Maria from Suburban-Mum told us that she makes sure her children don’t have any electrical devices on for at least half an hour before bed so they can have some “chill out time” away from the screens.
“They usually spend this time playing quietly with Lego or reading a book. When it’s time to go up, they will take it in turns to have a shower and brush their teeth etc. Then they read in bed for about ten minutes before lights out. I always give them a countdown too, so they are aware when it’s time to go upstairs or lights out.”
Don’t rush the bedtime routine
Feeling relaxed and refreshed, especially on a school night is important, so taking the time to create a soothing and calm environment before bed is crucial. Sara from Mind Your Mamma makes sure that her children are upstairs at least 45 minutes before bedtime. “I'll help our youngest have a shower first, and then the elder children come up for theirs. The bathroom can get a bit crowded when they all need to use the room at the same time, so the key for us is to make sure there's only one child in the shower and one brushing their teeth at a time.”
To help make going to bed as smooth as possible, Sara gets the children’s beds and bedrooms ready beforehand: “Once they're all showered, they put their cream on and get into their pyjamas, ready for reading. Each child will read their own schoolbook for about five to ten minutes, and then my husband reads them a storybook. We’re currently reading Shakespeare's adaptations.
“Once the story is finished, it's lights off. But I stay in the bedroom with them until they fall asleep to avoid them getting up and chatting away. I'll have to stop that at some point, but I enjoy doing it. It's been a lovely part of our bedtime routine for nearly 11 years now, and it works well for us.”
Reading books in bed
Reading in bed is a great addition to a night-time routine because it allows children to use their imaginations.
There are countless new children’s books being published every year, so you will be spoilt for choice. Some books to consider reading include:
· The Tiger who came to Tea
· The BFG
· The Gruffalo
· We’re Going on a Bear Hunt
· The Wind in the Willows
· The Tale of Peter Rabbit.
Josie from Me Them and The Others believes reading is the key to getting kids to settle down before bedtime: “Our eight year old was finding it really hard to settle at night but once we got him to start reading in bed for 15 minutes before going to sleep has really helped him to drop off more easily.”
Enlisting the help of private household staff can really help families establish a good routine throughout the day as well as the evening, and having an extra pair of hands to help is key for a stress-free bedtime routine. To see how Beauchamp Partners could help with your family’s weekly routine, contact our team today.