My children are very routine oriented. They like to know what to expect and do well with predictability. But this week Grandma is visiting which changes everything for them. I just overheard my daughter giving my husband a hard time as she was brushing her teeth, getting pajamas on, and being read to at bedtime. She ended up getting in trouble! This is not like her at all to act that way at bedtime! Want to know what I think was the problem tonight? She stayed up 45 minutes past her usual bedtime and didn't have a 30 minute "quiet time" or nap in the middle of the day. Seems crazy that only 75 minutes can make a difference, but it does. Also, Grandma is lots of fun so that changes how tired my daughter gets! Tomorrow I will make sure the bedtime is more predictable in the order of events and the time that it occurs! I guess we live and learn! But overall, I highly recommend keeping the bedtime routine as predictable as possible so that the kids can calm down enough to fall asleep.
Some other quick ideas for making the bedtime routine more successful is to quit "rough housing" or other alerting play activities at least 45 minutes prior to "lights out". Many young children can't "shift gears" quickly and then have trouble calming down enough to sleep. If your child is sensitive to touch, then do teethbrushing and bathing at least 45 minutes prior to "lights out". This is because the activities that are aversive to them over-alert them and then it is hard for them to calm down. Trying more calming activities prior to bed are better choices for promoting the child to fall asleep quicker. Ideas include reading or being read to, soft music, playing with quiet toys, and cuddling with family members. Don't use loud or brightly blinking toys close to bedtime. Some kids can't play games that require a lot of problem-solving close to bedtime because they then can't slow down their mind enough to fall asleep. My daughter fits into this category....she is a deep thinker and wants to solve the world's problems. So, I really have to choose pre-bedtime activities wisely with her. I definately don't let her watch the news, that would worry her too much. For now "Good night, sleep tight!"