At the end of each day, children need to unwind, just like adults. I think we often forget that they can have tough days too. There are so many simple ways you can help your child unwind, most of which can be incorporated into the bedtime routine. In our house, the children are at an age where they are more consious of the need to unwind, especially before bed, but they sometimes still need prompting, especially if they’ve had a little bit too much sugar throughout the course of the day.
Today I’d like to share with you all what works for us. Of course, every child is different and what works for one may not work for another, but all of these techniques are great for relaxing busy little bodies. Recently I published 10 Ways To Unwind After A Tough Day for adults. Give that post a read if the children have left you feeling a little tense.
I don’t limit screen time because often my children require some ‘quiet time’ away from each other to unwind, but I do try to avoid screens at bedtime. There is a noticeable difference in how easily the children fall asleep when screens are avoided in the hour before I tuck them into bed and turn off the lights.
- Bedtime stories – we read at least one story every night before bed. This hasn’t always been the case, in fact, I didn’t incorporate stories into our routine until about a year ago. I wish I’d done it sooner, the children love listening to me read.
- A warm bath – I don’t know about you, but I love a nice hot bubble bath at the end of the day. My children are the same, Mia especially would bathe for hours if I let her! Bath-time can be fun, but it can also be a relaxing sensory experience too. Try dimming the lights or using lavender-scented products to help your child unwind.
- Cuddles – affection strengthens the bond between parent and child. This article by parentingforbrain.com contains some fantastic information about the benefits of hugging your child. In our house, we do a lot of cuddling. Sometimes just because, and sometimes because its needed. Both of my children instantly relax in my arms, particularly when they are wound up or upset. Helping your child unwind can be as simple as a big cuddle – and we all love a big cuddle! What are you waiting for?!
- Quiet time – relaxing in a loud, busy environment is not easy, in fact, it’s pretty much impossible. Limit volume and distractions in the evenings.
- Singing – Quiet, calm singing can be incredibly soothing for children of all ages.
- Offer sleep inducing snacks – ever heard of the phrase hangry? It’s an informal term which means bad-tempered or irritable as a result of hunger. My son is often hangry, and requires regular feeding before he becomes a child who cannot be tamed! Children cannot unwind properly if their tummies aren’t full. Oats, bananas, honey and warm milk are just a few examples of sleep-inducing snacks (s).
- Burn off any remaining energy – I know this point entirely contradicts the suggestion of quiet time above, but what works one day, doesn’t necessarily work the next. Some children, especially children who attend school full-time like mine, still have energy to burn in the evenings. If your child is still full of life at 6/7pm, try a short walk or a bike ride to positively channel their energy.
- Be consistent – a change of routine can be hugely detrimental to children. Even if they don’t seem unsettled, a change in routine can be confusing for them. With a set routine they know what is coming next, there are no surprises.
- Prepare the following day – every evening before bed we prepare school uniforms and breakfasts for the following morning. This eliminates any anxiety about rushing upon waking not just for me, but the children too.
- Massage – if the children have had a particularly difficult day, I often give them a little hand or foot massage. Massage helps to relax muscles and reduce tension.