Are You Ready for Bedtime?
by Julie Lavender
Though grown-ups typically welcome slumber time after a long day at work, outside the home and inside the home, little ones most often don’t want to give in to bedtime, even when their bodies are screaming for rest. Parents can help establish bedtime routines that will ease children into a snuggly bed to get that much-needed rejuvenation for another day.
Winding down before bedtime helps little ones’ bodies get ready to fall asleep. A good night’s rest is important, physically, mentally and emotionally. It gives kids the energy needed for another day of learning and playing and drawing closer to God.
Here are 10 tips to help those precious little ones settle down from the day and get ready for bed.
1. Make sure to remove all screen activity at least an hour before bedtime. Keep the kids (and adults, for that matter) away from computers, televisions, video games, phones, other screens. Games and screens excite the brain and prevent bodies from winding down. Find other activities to do instead, but make sure the activities are fairly quiet ones so that the kids do not get stirred up before climbing in the bed.
2. Send the kids for one last drink of water to prevent a request later. Encourage them to put the dirty glass in the sink or dishwasher.
3. Help the kids tidy their room. If kids are old enough to do it alone, encourage that accomplishment, but it’s also fun to spend that time together just before bedtime. Have them put clothes or toys or books or shoes or other items in their proper place. A cluttered room distracts the brain and hinders kids’ eventual slumber.
4. Teach the kids to organize the clothes and supplies they’ll need for the next day. This habit will serve them well as they grow into the teen years, and even adulthood. Help them pick out the outfit they want to wear to school or church or playtime. Be sure to find matching shoes. Choose a jacket or sweater or raincoat, if the weather forecast speaks of a need for one. Have the kids make sure school supplies, sports equipment, dance shoes or other extra-curricular items are handy and in one location.
5. Next, send the kids to the tub or help them. Make sure each child is squeaky-clean for a good night’s rest. Once pajamas are securely wrapped around the kiddos, teach them to hang the wet towel on a rack to dry. Don’t let them escape the bathroom without brushing their teeth and teach them to put away the toothbrush and toothpaste.
6. If it’s not quite time for bed, listen to calming music together or think of something happy and positive to draw in a picture. Adults too!! Work together to create a masterpiece before bedtime.
7. Snuggle in one of the kiddos’ beds to get ready for Bible story time and prayer time. But first, talk about good things that happened during the day and make a list of God’s blessings. Talk about them aloud or keep a journal by the bedside table to write in each night. Think of all the things to be grateful for!
8. Read a Bible story together. Talk about what the story meant during Bible days and what the story means for today. Ask the kids to share how they think God might want them to apply the story to their own lives. Encourage them to give specific examples from their own lives, if possible.
9. Say prayers together. Talk to God and be sure to thank Him for taking such good care of your family and for loving you with a never-ending love. Ask God to take care of each family member, extended family and friends, as well as the whole world. Tell God your concerns as a family, but refrain from sharing too much at bedtime that could make the kids uneasy before falling asleep. Ask God to give you a good night’s rest!
10. Before turning in for the evening, give family members a bedtime hug, an “I love you” wink and a smooch on the cheek.
Routines at bedtime help kids fall asleep with ease. The time together helps seal family bonds too. And, most importantly, encouraging kids to connect with God before falling asleep is one of the best gifts you can offer them as a parent or caregiver. Reading God’s Word just before bedtime reminds kids that God is always with them—from morning until nighttime and even while they are asleep. God’s Word helps kids know that God loves them with a never-ending love. Dwelling on God’s love is the perfect, calming way to end the day and fall asleep in the comfort of God’s love. For kids and adults!!
Julie Lavender is the author of Children’s Bible Stories for Bedtime (Penguin Random House) and 365 Ways to Love Your Kids: Turning Little Moments into Lasting Memories (Revell). A former school teacher, she is wife to David, mom to four adult children she homeschooled, and grandmommy to a precious 3-year-old.