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Make your kid’s bedtime routine easier—and go faster—with these 5 tips

At the end of a long day, the bedtime routine can seem like an uphill climb. Not only are the parents tired—but so are the kids. Everyone is a little less patient and a little more irritable.


Sometimes it takes all the energy I can muster up to make the process happen. The bedtime routine seems to go at a snail's pace. It starts with a teeth brushing battle, followed by demands for snacks, then the need for repeated teeth brushing. How about those days when they don't want to get into the bathtub? Then once they are in they refuse to get out.

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It all comes to a close by choosing the longest book ever written for a bedtime story.

But it doesn't have to be a battle. When it comes to bedtime, there are several things that we, as parents, can do to help the process run like a well-oiled machine.

Try these 5 tips to have a no-fuss bedtime routine in your house:

1. Find the sweet spot for bedtime

As our children grow, their sleep needs change. If you have a 3-year-old that suddenly refuses to fall asleep at night, his nap time might need to be shortened. If you have a 12-month-old who is fighting her 8pm bedtime, she might be overtired and actually need an earlier hour. Watch your child for cues and try to understand these changing sleep needs over time.

2. Use momentum

When it comes to the bedtime routine, just do it. Don't start and stop. If you get the kids into PJs, then check your email and scroll Instagram, when you return to the process you are going to be starting over.

Use momentum in your favor. Be fully present and be full of positive energy—once you get the process started, keep things moving. This will help to make it happen seamlessly.

3. Skip the screens

At the end of a long day it can be tempting to flip on the screens and let our kids veg out. Research shows us that kids actually have a harder time settling down and falling asleep after exposure to screen time. Not to mention that dragging your kid away from a favorite show to do something unmentionable (like brush teeth) is a losing battle that you don't want to fight.

Instead, choose low key activities like reading books, just prior to bedtime.

4. Pattern the events

There are certain parts of the bedtime routine that a child comes to dread, while other parts make them light up. My daughter hates brushing her teeth, but loves the bathtub. So we pattern these events to work in our favor.

First we brush teeth, then take a bath. This first-then principle is an effective strategy for gaining cooperation. It works as a type of natural reward. First we get the hard stuff done, then we get to do the fun stuff.

On a similar now, my little one also hates getting out of the bathtub, but loves choosing her bedtime book. So we carry the pattern on and emphasize this simple language—first you get out of the bathtub, then you pick your book.

Seriously, this trick works like a small miracle.

5. Bring the calm

There is one constant for all parents at bedtime—we are tired. Our daily allotment of patience has been exhausted. We are much more likely to get frustrated and irritated.

But here's the thing, if we get mad and angry we are going to throw the whole process off course. Our children are mirrors of us. When we get frustrated, they get frustrated.

So whatever it takes—we have to bring the calm. It will make the bedtime routine faster and more pleasant for everyone.

This is how we’re defining success this school year

Hint: It's not related to grades.

In the ever-moving lives of parents and children, opportunities to slow down and reflect on priorities can be hard to come by. But a new school year scheduled to begin in the midst of a global pandemic offers the chance to reflect on how we should all think about measures of success. For both parents and kids, that may mean putting a fresh emphasis on optimism, creativity and curiosity.

Throughout recent decades, "school success" became entangled with "academic achievement," with cases of anxiety among school children dramatically increasing in the past few generations. Then, almost overnight, the American school system was turned on its head in the spring of 2020. As we look ahead to a new school year that will look like no year past, more is being asked of teachers, students and parents, such as acclimating to distance learning, collaborating with peers from afar and aiming to maintain consistency with schooling amidst general instability due to COVID.

Despite the inherent challenges, there is also an overdue opportunity to redefine success during the school year by finding fresh ways to keep students and their parents involved in the learning process.

"I always encourage my son to try at least one difficult thing every school year," says Arushi Garg, parenting blogger and mom of a 4-year-old. "This challenges him but also allows me to remind him to be optimistic! Lots of things in life are hard, and it's important we learn to be positive during difficult times. Fostering a sense of optimism allows kids to push beyond what they thought possible, like biking without training wheels or reading above their grade level."

Here are a few mantras to keep in mind this school year:

Quality learning matters more than quantifying learning

After focusing on standardized measures of academic success for so long, the learning environment this next school year may involve more independent, remote learning. Some parents are considering this an exciting opportunity for their children to assume a bigger role in what they are learning—and parents are also getting on board by supporting their children's education with engaging, positive learning materials like Highlights Magazine.

As a working mom, Garg also appreciates that Highlights Magazine can help engage her son while she's also working. She says, "He sits next to me and solves puzzles in the magazine or practices his writing from the workbook."

Keep an open mind as "school" looks different

Whether children are of preschool age or in the midst of high school, "going to school" is bound to look different this year. Naturally, this may require some adjustment as kids become accustomed to new guidelines. Although many parents may wish to shelter our kids from challenges, others believe optimism can be fostered through adversity when everyone is committed to adapting to new experiences.

"Honestly, I am yet to figure out when I will be comfortable sending [my son] back [to school]," says Garg. In the meantime, she's helping her son remain connected with friends who also read Highlights Magazine by encouraging the kids to talk about what they are learning on video calls.

Follow children's cues about what interests them

For Garg, her biggest hope for this school year is that her son will create "success" for himself by embracing new learning possibilities with positivity.

"Encouraging my son to try new things has given him a chance to prove that he can do anything," she says. "He takes his previous success as an example now and feels he can fail multiple times before he succeeds."

There's no denying that this school year will be far from the norm. But, perhaps, we can create a new, better way of defining our children's success in school because of it.

This article was sponsored by Highlights. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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