Routine doesn’t come naturally to me and it never has. I’m one of those people who need routine imposed on them by external factors like school, work and appointments. (And even with those in place… I’ll be honest, I can still sometimes struggle).
I have, however, in the last ten years of being a parent, learned the value of bed time routine for kids, especially young ones.
I never really had a bed time routine when I was young. When I think about it, I don’t think bed time is really a big thing in Greek culture… or at least it wasn’t in our family anyway- Greek friends please feel free to refute me on this. When I married my British husband- or before I did actually- we discussed bed time routine for kids. Since we live in the UK, and have done ever since we had kids, it’s only natural that the ways of the land have found themselves into our dual culture home: bed time routine is an institution.
I think it really helps kids to understand that it’s time to go to sleep, when they have a routine. For example I think even babies start to understand bed time, when you do the same thing over and over, at the same time of the day. It brings familiarity, and repetition, both of which I think give kids a sense of security.
For our three year old boy, Reuben, bed time routine starts with a shower or a bath. Even when he is not in need of one, it still happens because that is the start of the routine. After that’s done, there’sw jammies on, and brushing teeth. And after that, a story. If both parents are in, he gets two stories… lucky boy! After the stories end, it’s time for cuddles and sleep. Cuddles can take place on the arm chair in his room, or in Reuben’s bed. If it’s the latter I fall asleep with him, more often than not… which doesn’t work well for me. But very often I can’t resist a little cuddle in his bed at the end of the day.
Apart from setting the scene and sending the message that it’s time for sleep, the routine also presents an opportunity to spend quality time together. This, I really love. Reading stories, talking about the day, and cuddling, is sometimes my favourite part of the day. That’s another thing I throw into the mix of the routine, actually: I ask “what was your favourite bit of the day?” It’s always interesting to hear what comes back, and Reuben usually asks the question back. Today his answer was “going to nursery”, and mine was actually doing bedtime stories.
His recent choice of library book is a vocabulary book about food. It has pages and pages of pictures of different types of food and the names of each. I’m usually not keen on these kinds of books, but Reuben loves them! And actually I’m really enjoying this one too. I realise there are many types of fruit he has never seen before, lychee for example, and coconut, or rhubarb and black currants, and papaya. I’ve really enjoyed going through the book with him and teaching him the different words. My absolute favourite bit was when we got to the sweetie page, this evening! His face, full of glee, was just priceless ( see photo). And just think: I would have missed it if it wasn’t for bed time routine!
Please feel free to share your bed time routine tips in the comments, both for kids and adults.
Soon it’s time for me to catch some zzz too, so see you tomorrow!