The National Bible Contest was held here in Montreal this week. We had the honour and the pleasure of hosting two girls from Toronto in our home for the two nights they were here for the event. These girls are friends of my daughters, so there was great excitement and anticipation all around.
The trip was all-consuming and all-inclusive so I was really just providing beds to fall into each night. The first night was the “night before” the big competition so a good night sleep was a goal for everyone. One of our guests was self-aware enough to realize she needed to be alone in order to ensure a sleep-filled night. So, that first night, we had one girl in a bedroom upstairs and three in the guest room downstairs. While they all went to sleep a good hour later than usual, they all slept well. Today, the girls took a bus back to Toronto which means that nobody really cared how well they slept last night:). All four slept downstairs, fewer hours than the previous night :).
All the girls had a wonderful time as did the rest of my family. I am quite sure that all four girls will be tired from this visit, but that is all part and parcel of the treat.
This experience has caused me to pause and ponder, as we will sometimes do. How can we create and implement a successful bedtime? Can we establish a routine that will send our little ones, and our big ones too, off into a restful, healthful, and efficient sleep?
Here are 3 things that we have found helpful in our house throughout the years.
1. Be consistent. Our bodies have their own internal rhythms. When we tap into these and go with the natural flow, our bodies will guide to ensure they get the sleep they need. To a certain extent, a person can “train” themselves in this regard. I have seen this work time and again with my own kids. (Why time and again? Because I suffer from a time allergy. I have no concept of time whatsoever. This means that I forget that it is now x o’clock and that means child A must go to bed). If a child consistently gets into bed at 8 o’clock and gets up at 7 o’clock, his body will send tired signals in time for that 8 o’clock bedtime and will awaken at the 7 o’clock rising. It is a beautiful phenomenon.
2. Create a quiet but connected bedtime routine. Some children are frightened by the idea of being left alone in the dark to go to sleep; some are frightened by the very idea of sleep. I know I was. Building one-on-one time into your bedtime routine can help ease a child into a peaceful and relaxed sleep. In our house, we will read together and spend some time chatting before singing HaMalach (a bedtime prayer) and having one last cuddle and kiss. This together time is very therapeutic and its consistency allows our children to know that no matter how busy our days may be, we always come back to each other at bedtime.
3. Another thing that has worked well for us is that we separate the chores of the routine from the fun of it. Our children get into pjs and brush their teeth right after supper. This eliminates the desire to snack before bed and gets the jobs done when the child is still awake enough to accomplish them quickly and willingly. I will note that this rule does not apply to our teenagers!
If anyone else has any successful bedtime tips, please share them in the comments. What works for one family may not work for another.
Wishing you restful nights.