4 Easy Bedtime Rules to Help Your Kids Unwind

Jul 03, 2017

Talk to any parent, and undoubtedly the topic of sleep will come up. For me, sleep was an incredibly difficult subject because neither I nor my son got any for the first nine months. To make a long story short, we enlisted the help of a sleep consultant, and have been on the right path ever since. I’m going to share some easy bedtime rules to help your kids unwind and unplug, as well as to ensure that the entire family gets the rest they need.

Survey the Bedroom Environment

Before you lay down bedtime ground rules, take a look around your child’s room. Is your kiddo’s bedroom a peaceful place, or is it rife with toys and other items that stimulate the brain? Your child’s bedroom should convey the room’s purpose, and should be conducive to rest and slumber.

My son’s room, for example, is devoid of any toys (unless you count stuffed animals). A bookcase full of books makes the room homey, and further promotes the idea that the bedroom is a place for quiet and relaxation.

No Screens

If you’ve made the commitment to a toy-free bedroom, it makes sense to take that a step further, and make your child’s bedroom screen-free. Not only is it safer for your child to have a bedroom without a computer, television, tablet or smartphone, it’s conducive to sleep.

In addition to removing screens from the bedroom, you’ll want to enforce screen-free time at least thirty minutes before bedtime. Using parental control software from Net Nanny, you can manage your child’s online time and limit the hours they can access their connected devices. The blue light our devices emit is scientifically proven to disturb and disrupt sleep, especially in teens. Have your kids turn off and turn in their devices each evening, a minimum thirty minutes before bedtime, to allow their brains to begin to wind down and release melatonin.

Create a Routine

Creating a bedtime routine can be difficult if you’ve not established a set bedtime, so be sure to set a bedtime that allows enough time to unwind through routine and allows the minimum number of recommended hours of sleep for your child’s age. If you are uncertain of the number of recommended hours of sleep for your child’s age, the National Sleep Foundation has a helpful chart for quick reference.

For example, my 4-year-old son’s bedtime is 6:30 p.m. Between 5:45 p.m. and 5:50 p.m. we give a 10 or 15-minute warning so that our kiddo knows that he needs to wrap up whatever he is doing for the day. Once upstairs, the bedtime routine consists of a bath, a book (or books), and a “brain dump,” where our son shares about his day; the total bedtime routine lasts a half-hour and is the same every evening.

Remain Consistent

While the length of time it takes to create or change a habit is a topic of debate, you can expect a new bedtime routine to take a few weeks to become the norm...but only if you are consistent. Whatever your routine looks like, keep it the same; lights out should be the same time, nightly, as should the actual routine (bath, book, etc.).

Trust me, I know how difficult it is to have a child struggling to adapt to a change in their sleep routine. Anytime I’ve made changes to my son’s routine -- dropping a nap, changing bedtime -- there has been some struggle, and a lot of second-guessing myself. Thankfully, our old sleep consultant is a friend, and she’d talk me through the tough times. Stick it out and both you and your child will be rewarded with healthy sleep!