If your child has a lot of energy it can be difficult to get them to calm down and settle into bed, here are some of my top tips to help make bedtimes easier.
1) Play outside in the morning
Playing outside is a great way to burn off energy, and fresh air and exercise are important for every child. If you are struggling with bedtimes though, it may help if you spend time outside in the morning or early afternoon rather than in the evening. It's not easy to leave bright sunshine and go straight to bed. If you come indoors, where it's a little dimmer, for a few hours before bed your child's body will start to produce the hormones it needs for sleep.
2) Quiet time
Another reason to avoid playing football late into the evening is the need to ease your child gradually into a more relaxed state before bed. Quiet activities like jigsaws, crafts or sensory play are great for this and really useful for the hour or so before you start your bedtime routine. You could even use chamomile flowers in a sensory bin or make lavender playdough and keep it just for bedtime. Active children often enjoy this sort of fine motor activity and may prefer it to reading stories.
3) Turn off the TV
TV, computers and other screens can cause real problems at bedtimes. They are so stimulating that they set your child's brain buzzing for as long as two hours. Even if you have no problem with bedtime and the child looks sound asleep their brain is still active and they aren't getting as much rest as they should. Best to turn of the TV a couple of hours before bed.
4) Have a consistent routine
A consistent bedtime routine is really important. Children love the security they get from knowing what will happen next and really thrive on that sort of structure. Your bedtime routine should be no longer than 40 minutes, from going upstairs to you leaving the room, and might include things like a bath, putting on nightclothes, a story or a song. You could even take pictures of your routine and stick them up to make a timeline for your child to follow, leading inevitably to bed.
5) Make bedtime pleasant
If your child hates water or can't stand stories then bedtime is not the best time to try to change their mind! You don't need to include baths and books in a routine just because other people do, they can be something you do in the morning or during the day instead. Build your routine around the things that help your child to relax and wind down.
Use bedtime to connect with your child after a busy day. Set aside any frustrations, forgive them any accidents or bad behaviour and share your love for each other. For some children that means cuddling up together for a story, others like to share favourite things about the day or sing a special family song together. Whatever you do, a few moments of loving connection gives a sense of peace and security which we all need.