An overseas family holiday had long felt like a pipe dream. With young kids,…
Ah, the witching hour. That window of time in the evening when us parents just want to relax and the kids turn a bit feral.
A little while ago, Ryan and I knew we needed to make some changes in this area. What we were doing wasn’t working, and we wanted to create a calm, efficient routine that helped us connect as a family and settle the girls for a good night’s sleep, which in turn would allow us to have some quiet time of our own.
It has actually worked a treat for us! Here’s what we did:
6pm (after dinner and the PM tidy)
Dim the lights: Our eyes and brains use light to determine the time of day, so it’s hard for our bodies to know what’s up when the house is lit up like a Christmas tree. We switch off the bright overheads and use soft, warm lighting (via dimmers, lamps) to signal that it’s time to put screens away and unwind.
Involve the senses: I put a calming essential oil blend in the diffuser, which has two benefits: 1. It smells divine and relaxes the mind; 2. The scent becomes associated with switch-off time in the brain, so it makes sticking with these new habits easier in future.
Choose a mindfulness activity: We bought a big box of textas and a bunch of colouring books and sit together at the table and colour in. We listen to music, we chat; it’s a great way to encourage Ryan and I to put our phones down and spend intentional time with the kids. And they love it too.
Bath time: Why do kids fight bath time so much? Honestly, I’d love it if someone fed me, ran me a nice bath, then insisted I go to bed! #adultgoals. We try to make it as enticing an experience as possible with bubbles, a couple of toys, their own special towels and products.
Positivity: I have a stack of affirmation cards, so once they’re in their PJs and have brushed their hair and teeth, the girls each pick a card and we read out the affirmation together.
Reading: The kids choose a book each, and we sit together on their beds and read. You could also make up your own stories if you’re creatively inclined.
Goodnight: By the time it’s lights out, they are well ready for sleep. The wind-down routine seems to help eliminate those ‘I’m thirsty’/‘I need to go to the toilet’/‘I just need to tell you something’ lines they try on us to prolong the process!
Get their input: Let the kids choose a creative activity, or the book they read, or the music to listen to. They are much more likely to participate if they feel part of the decision-making.
Give them five minutes’ notice: Letting them know wind-down time is coming helps them prepare and reduces the likelihood of tantrums when they have to stop what they’re doing.
Have a roster: If your kids are prone to fights about who goes first (the bath, the book choice, etc), put a roster on the fridge so there’s no room for argument.
Make it visual: Same goes with chores — if they are required to, say, put their dirty clothes in the hamper after the bath, put it on a chore chart on the fridge and have them tick it off when it’s done.
What’s your family’s bath/bedtime routine? Share by tagging me on socials using the hashtags #stephpase #stephing.