Have you ever had a great day with your family only to find your child isn’t quite ready for the fun to be over when bedtime comes around? Simply put, sometimes the world is just too fun to let go, meaning now the junior members of the family as so wound up you, as a parent, know it’s going to be a long night.
Or is it?
What if you can help your child unwind after even the best or most exciting day, so they can easily go to sleep at a reasonable hour? Don’t believe it? Try these techniques and see what happens.
Let Them Play
While this might seem counterintuitive, kids burn off a lot of energy when they’re playing. By giving them some free, unstructured time, they’ll run off a lot of excess energy and even work through some of what happened. It doesn’t have to be long; even a few minutes helps.
Take a Walk
As with playing, a little exercise can go a long way toward unwinding. The best part of walking, though, is you get to unwind right along with them. You might be surprised to find out you need this downtime every bit as much as they do.
Engage in Conversation
In a long and heartfelt conversation, let your child talk about what they did today. Ask lots of open-ended questions, asking them to describe their day and what they liked about it. The best part? You can enjoy seeing your outing from their point of view as you both decompress.
Your child might want to draw or spend time writing about their day as part of remembering it. Or if they’re not old enough to be this articulate, or maybe want to be creative, you can give them some clay or other art materials and just let them create whatever they feel like.
Work the Routine
Even if you’re going to bed later than normal, following your typical bedtime routine will help them wind down and slip into the idea it’s time to go to bed. It’s important not to skip portions of this routine even if you’re late, as your child already has a strong connection with this routine, and you want to disturb this process of unwinding as little as possible.
Add Some Music
As your child settles into sleep, very soft music or ambient sounds designed for bedtime or relaxation might help them to unwind further.
Ask them to Breathe
Even children can learn to breathe to a rhythm you count out for them. Several long slow deep breaths are sometimes all you need to send a little one right off to sleep.
The important thing here is to listen to your child. Choose what they’re naturally inclined to do. Some kids process better through talk, others through play. Learn what works best for your child and go from there. You’ve got this!