By Marnita Coleman, Special to AFRO
Putting the kids to bed can be a frustrating task. They never want to go to bed, even if they are fast asleep on the sofa. Our little ones will fight with all of their strength to stay up for a few more minutes, using age-old excuses like, “I’m not sleepy” or “I’m thirsty.” They think we are oblivious to their schemes, but we’re not. The problem is that we don’t have a plan of action that gets them into bed without the runaround. Simplify the process and take the bite out of an annoying situation by creating bedtime routines that are easy for your kids to follow.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, doctors determined that children ages three to six years old need at least 10 to 12 hours of sleep per night for optimal health, while children seven to 12 years old require 10 to 11 hours of sleep. This is important to know if you want to give your kids a strong, healthy, and rested start for a new day’s journey. The clincher is how to get them to adhere to bedtime routines without starting World War III. Begin by determining what time the kids wake up in the morning and counting backward according to the recommended sleep time stated above. Don’t forget to factor in your child’s morning temperament, as to whether you have to drag him out of bed every morning. If not, consider allowing your behaved child the privilege of staying up a little later at night. Once the bedtime schedule is set, stick to it. For example, if your 6-year-old gets up at 7:00 a.m., an appropriate bedtime would be 8:00 p.m. That’s 11 hours’ worth of sleep. If he’s a prince in the morning, tucking him in at 8:30 p.m. still works.
(Photo Courtesy/Bing Images)
To really get the ball rolling towards a smooth nightly routine, give your children a gentle warning about 30 minutes before bedtime, try something like “Kids, almost bedtime.” Prepare to hear the protests, grunts, and shouts. The pushback is real, but the good news for the kids is that there is a half-hour remaining, so technically, it’s not a harsh intrusion. A gentle warning works as a nudge that mentally prepares our children for the transition into their bedtime routine and to mark the official end of their day.
At 15 minutes before bedtime, alert them again with a firm reminder. Saying something like “Okay, kids in 15 minutes cut off the TV and get to brushing your teeth,” would work because their minds have already accepted that it is bedtime and their easy routine gives them confidence in what they are supposed to do.
At bedtime, start the process with, “Okay, who’s brushing their teeth first.” The expectation is that everyone is moving. Someone is cutting off the TV, while someone else is heading towards the bathroom to brush their teeth.
Lastly, say your prayers, tuck the little blessings in, give lots of hugs and kisses, and end with a bedtime story or something delightful. Now, have a latte. It’s me time. Creating bedtime routines, keeps harmony in the home and teaches the kids structure.
Marnita Coleman is an author and host of The Marnita Show, a parenting show heard daily across the globe. For more parenting, log onto TheMarnitaShow.com.
The opinions on this page are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the AFRO.
Send letters to The Afro-American • 1531 S. Edgewood St. Baltimore, MD 21227 or fax to 1-877-570-9297 or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org