Emily Stone, LICSW, social worker and Senior Clinical Strategist at Mightier
With spring approaching, we are starting to see the weather becoming warmer and the days getting longer. For many families, when the sun is out longer, it can cause shifts and changes to the bedtime routine. Many parents may start to hear their child say things like “I don’t want to sleep, the sun is still out!”
While the longer days full of fun and sunshine are exactly what we have longed for after an emotionally draining fall and winter, getting enough sleep is still an important part of children’s (and adult’s) mental health.
This week is Sleep Awareness Week. While we know that sleep is important for our health, we also know that children can struggle with bedtime routines and getting into a good sleep routine. At Mightier, we are constantly working to help families improve their mental health, while also having fun.
Here are some ideas that may make your child’s sleep routine a bit easier (and a bit more fun at the same time).
With the warm weather finally settling in, now is the perfect time to get outside and moving! Many kids have been cooped up inside for several months because of cold weather and virtual school. Finding fun and movement-based activities outside could be helpful for an easier bedtime. The more exercise kids get, the more tired they will be when it is time to settle down to sleep. Try things like long walks, playing a sport, or drawing with chalk. You can also try to have your child pick the activity they would like to do to help them get more engaged. (This exercise will be great for you as an adult too!)
Choices at Bedtime
Kids love having choices, especially when it comes to doing something that they would prefer not to do (for example, bedtime). While giving them the choice of what time they go to sleep should not be up to them, there are things that they can choose that may help them to settle down a bit more easily. Try having your child choose the blanket they would like to sleep with, which stuffed animal (or animals) would like to join them, the book they would like to read, or the pajamas they are going to wear.
While many kids will love nothing more than their own special adult reading stories to them, it can be fun to mix up storytime with guest speakers now and then before turning off the lights. One really fun way to bring some special stories into the bedtime routine is using podcasts. Allow them to pick out a story during the day that will get them excited for the night ahead. This article gives some great recommendations for podcasts for kids (the Best Bedtime Podcast section may be really helpful).
Everyone loves good music to get their day started. Some kids can be motivated by the reward of their favorite song as an alarm or it being played first thing when they wake up in the morning. Have your child pick their favorite song to be woken up with as a reward for a great night of sleep. It may even help them get moving and active to start their morning routine!