Do you find yourself stuck when summertime comes along and all of a sudden the happiest days end with dramatic meltdowns and tears at bedtime?
Maybe it’s a foreign thing that is making you crazy.
Maybe it’s just a thing of dread that you have to ‘get through each night
Maybe they’ve been fighting bedtime for (literally) their whole lives and now it’s worse and you’re ready to start pulling out your hair.
Wherever you fall in the mix, you’re not alone and you’re not without help.
I know we all wish there was a one size fits all bedtime solution for these tough nights, it can be so tough when every night feels like an inescapable challenge with no rules and no winner. But I’m here to come alongside you and remind you that we are all learning and doing our best. Here are some things to consider if you’re in the ‘exhausted and struggling at bedtime’ mom's club.
- Visual bedtime routine
For a lot of families, busier days mean more unpredictability for kids. There is typically a lot less structure during summer when school is out and there is more going on. For kids who really need structure and a say in their day, allowing them a visual routine that they can arrange, see, and predict can help things feel smoother because bedtime is no longer just another unpredictable event at the end of a long day.
- Check the environment
I have one child that is really sensitive to the temperature in the room. I can’t even tell you how many times I've just needed to change the temperature in the room and then things settled down fast. My son really needs the room to be chilly. Not just cool, but actually chilly. It’s always been his thing. I don’t relate to this at all because I tend to be really cold all the time anyway, it was such a strange thing but once I saw the correlation I realized it was consistent and it was just part of what he needs to settle in and get cozy.
- Hydrate + nourish throughout the day
Be intentional to hydrate + nourish your children throughout the day! Bedtime is not the best time or place for a full meal and a huge beverage! But a child who is hungry or thirsty just won’t settle well into sleep and on the flip side, catching them up on calories and hydration can set them up for nighttime wake-ups because they need to use the bathroom or their bodies are so busy digesting that they don’t get the quality sleep that they need. So the goal here is just to be intentional with hydration and nutrition throughout the day to avoid squeezing it in right before bed.
- Set a screen time shut-off time
Choosing a time of day when the home becomes screen-free can help your child’s brain settle down. Screen time is super stimulating for the brain and having screen time too close to bedtime can make it harder for kiddos to settle in and feel relaxed. Shutting screens off 3 hours before it’s time to settle seems to be a good limit for us–but this could look different for every family so feel free to experiment and see how it makes a difference.
- Set psalms to music and sing them to your child
Part of helping your child settle into peace is being in that place of peace yourself. When I find that a tough place to find for myself, I like to just pause the chaos and sing psalms to my kids. It is a good grounding technique for myself, speaks truth to my children, and is also reassuring for both of us. This isn’t fancy and there is no musical talent required. In our home, some psalms nicely take their own tune as they come out, but others come out to the tune of Cocomelon songs. Both work just the same!
- Help your child decompress before bedtime
I get it, sometimes it’s late and we just want to say “that’s it. Now it’s time for bed” but kids need time to unwind and decompress just like us grown-ups. Start working with your kids, no matter how young, on how their brain needs to unwind. Depending on the age, it could be anything from a book or a puzzle to coloring or just talking or journaling about their day. This is really child-specific and it could require some trial and error–but it is a really important skill for them to have and when they’re feeling calm and all ‘unwound’ bedtime will be easier for everyone.
- Be intentional to connect throughout the day
Our kids are really good at asking us to connect with them–the trouble is, it doesn’t always sound like "Mommy, I’m really feeling like we need to connect." Instead, especially for little children, it is *more often* going to sound/look like meltdowns, tantrums, crying, and boundary testing. Sometimes those types of behaviors are really a cry for connection. And no matter why you’re in there with them, if you’re there with them the connection sensors in their brain say that is what they need. To avoid this desperate plea for help, be intentional to connect throughout the day so that they aren’t suddenly realizing they haven’t connected with you right before it’s time to go to sleep.
Do you have any helpful tips you’d like to share with our community about bedtime during the summer? We’d love to hear what you have to say–drop a comment below!