No doubt every parent experiences the typical mid-afternoon slump and by the time 2pm rolls around, bedtime cannot come soon enough. Is 3pm too early, anyone?
Getting through the afternoon and ensuring a smooth bedtime routine is definitely something that is easier said than done. Tired parents plus tired children … it can be a recipe for disaster. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to help your evenings run a little smoother.
Instead of leaving dinner to the last minute each day, set aside some time to work out a plan for the following week – and buy all of the ingredients accordingly. Not only will this save you money, but your sanity will also be left intact because you won’t be left staring at the fridge every night trying to piece together a meal. Don’t get me wrong, scrambled eggs are nutritious – but allocating time to plan your meals will leave you feeling prepared for the week ahead.
Get dinner prepped before arsenic hour hits
Taking your organisational skills one step further, make it a goal to get food sorted sooner rather than later. Try and have the bulk of your meal prepped before dinner time arrives, so you don’t have to cook it with a baby in your arms … or a whining toddler hanging off your legs. Making this one simple adjustment can turn your entire afternoon around, leaving you time for your children when they need you – rather than being in the kitchen. You could even dedicate one day a week to cooking a handful of meals, so you don’t have to cook dinner again all week. The freedom!
Read more about bedtime routines:
- How to create the very best bedtime routine for sleep-resistant toddlers
- Bedtime routine checklist – how many can you cross off?
- Here’s how to prepare young children for the end of daylight saving
Put away the screens
Encourage your child to spend the afternoon outside in the sun before it sets, and turn off the TV. It is well-documented that screens affect sleep and have little to no benefit for children under two years of age. Additionally, exposure to natural light and outdoor play helps regulate melatonin levels, which is essential for a good night’s sleep.
Lay out those PJs
It might sound simple, but it does help – honestly. Get organised and have your child’s pyjamas and bedtime things laid out ready for him to hop in to straight after his bath. The less time spent rustling through wardrobes with a child who is intent on being freed from his towel, the better. Trust me on this.
Listen to mothercraft nurse Chris Minogue talk about how to handle bedtime battles:
Carve out time for your child, one on one
Another helpful tip is to set aside time to spend with your child, just the two of you. Ten minutes spent connecting with your child during the day can help when it comes to his bedtime because he will feel like his emotional-needs cup is full. He will feel important, and a priority – and will be less likely to demand your attention later when it’s time for bed. Something as simple as reading together after a bath can make all the difference.
Consider your child’s senses with music and lighting
Creating the right kind of environment helps to get a child in the right mood before bed. Consider dimming the lights after dinner, turn off The Wiggles and put on some soothing music. There have been proven benefits to playing classical music to children. And there are so many fantastic apps making this more accessible, too. Including Kinderling Kids Radio segment, Settle Petal, which runs from 5pm-8pm and features chilled out tunes and stories for the kids to relax into dinner, bath and bedtime routines.
Evenings don’t have to be a chaos-ridden calamity. Implementing a few simple changes to your early afternoon routine will help pave the way for a smoother bedtime for your child. And who knows – maybe bedtime will be something you both learn to look forward to.