Welcome to the Parenting Blog! My name is Stephanie Cleary and I am an Early Childhood Educator and Parent Child Teacher at the Waldorf School of Garden City. You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
Transforming Our Young Child’s Bedtime
"There was never a child so lovely but his mother was glad to get him to sleep" – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ah, Summertime! The breathing out. The sunshine. The late nights. The great outdoor fun. Sleeping late in the morning. The lack of rhythm! The start of school around the bend! How did the summer move by so quickly?!? We will soon be entering a new school year. How do we prepare our young children for the transition into a new school year, or for some, into the first school year? Let's face it. Not everyone has an easy time holding rhythm during the year, let alone through the summer. How can we begin to shift this pattern? Start now. Wherever you are, whatever your life is like, starting now is the best place to be.
Let’s begin with bedtime. Ultimately a child that is preschool age benefits most from early sleep. If your child is going to bed late, begin bedtime a little earlier. Start tonight! If the child is going to bed at 10 pm (Ooooo... that’s late! Don’t worry. I won’t tell!), begin bedtime at 9 pm (still late.) The following week establish an 8 pm bedtime (you’re getting there!). Finally, establish a 7 pm bedtime (how well rested you will be!). Whatever time your child is tucked in, keep making bedtime earlier each week, half hour by half hour, until you finally reach the goal of 7 pm bedtime. This may mean shifting naps to an earlier time as well. Before your eyes, you will have a well-rested, happy child, and you will have sacred time for yourself each evening! I know it’s thrilling to even think about it! Remember to keep dinner and bath time early, to help create a stress free sleep time! If you are struggling with setting this new bedtime, add in a simple ritual to make bedtime special. A few sips of warm chamomile tea can soothe and relax your restless child. Rub a little lavender oil on the soles of your little one’s feet or light a candle and say a short verse. Keep it simple and choose only one ritual so it is easy to stick to it. Darkening shades or drapes can help a great deal with early bedtime. They also help children sleep later in the morning. When my children were toddlers, darkening the room was a worthwhile investment since they thought 5:30 am was getting up late!
Turning daily rhythms into rituals can deepen the experience for you and your child. Enjoy every moment with your little one!
"Sleep is the best meditation" – Dalai Lama
How many hours are needed for healthy sleep? In The New York Times article, “Zombie Prevention: Your Child’s Sleep,’’ Jane E. Brody mentions that according to the National Sleep Foundation, newborns should sleep 12 to 18 hours, with a gradual reduction to 12 to 14 hours for toddlers ages 1 to 3; 11 to 13 hours for preschoolers ages 3 to 5; and (yes!) 10 to 11 hours for school children ages 5 to 10. If having 12 hours or more of sleep is what it takes to have a healthy, happy child, then dinner at 5 pm and bed at 6:30 pm may be the answer.
Stick to it! You won’t believe how life will improve! A little rhythm goes a long way.
Stay tuned for my next blog when we will talk about creating rhythm around meal times.
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