Bed time for my children was always a fun and relaxing time, because that was when stories and music came alive! My kids are now young adults, but I still remember we used to have fun around bed time. It was like they had been waiting for that moment their whole day.
This concept is very simple. You see, in order for children (or even adults) to enjoy something, it has to come through fun, whether it is reading, doing their homework, or helping you out with chores around the house. Sure we did have our struggles, but I learned from those experiences through trial and error.
The reason is when something is fun, children want to do it again and again… wouldn’t you?
So this was what we did – in five simple ways.
- Their bed time was “around” almost the same time, give and take. It was not a strict regime that it had to be that particular time, and sometimes they went to bed earlier, sometimes later. We were flexible about it, no stress no drama.
- My children would pick out a story book for the night’s story time. I would read out the story, and I added in colourful characters just for fun, and asked them to do the same. This really made the story FUN. There is no limit to who the characters could be, but the key is FUN! And a lot of laughter!
- After the story, they could decide whether they wanted more stories or go straight to sleep while listening to the music (yes, they normally sleep with music on). But the story had to be via the audio. They had a choice of whether a read-along story (listening to the audio together with a picture book or purely audio) or listening to music of their choice – Baby Einstein classical or nursery rhymes – and go straight to sleep.
- They had each a touch lamp (safe for them to control) and they could decide for themselves whether to have it on or off, i.e. they had a choice.
- Before going to sleep, I would ask them what story they would like to listen to the following night – oh… we would always call it story time rather than bed time. That gave them something to look forward to the following night.
I am a big fan of the “fun” concept. When something is fun, you enjoy doing it, because it is pleasurable and joyful. And you want to do it again and again. So when you introduce bed time as a fun time, and relaxing at the same time, you will enjoy it and I am sure the kids will be looking forward to it.
For example, if you enjoy watching basketball, opera etc. you enjoy it because it gives you joy and pleasure, and it is relaxing, right? This principal goes the same way for story time for your children.
Allow your child to have a say in which story they would like for the night, and a choice of whether to continue reading (while listening to audio) or just listening to music. As I personally like to read in bed, I allowed my kids to do the same. They had a choice.
I believe that when you give your children choices, it is empowering for them, as it gives them a voice and the chance to make decisions for themselves. Thus you tend to experience less power struggles and stress, and they are more cooperative and responsible for the choices they make.
There were days when I was just too tired to read with them, so they just happily settled for their audio books. And when they were tired enough to sleep (always within a very reasonable time range), they would switch off the light, listen to the music or more audio stories and go off to sleep.
No matter which bedtime method you decide upon with your children, just keep in mind, bedtime or story time with your children is meant to be fun. It is also a precious time to connect with your children. Make it fun, joyful and relaxing.
If you are struggling with bed time, try empowering your kids with choices (that they can handle) and incorporate some fun stuff that you enjoy together. Go with what you feel is right for you and your children and experience some powerful changes.