The benefits of an evening routine
I know I may have already had a few eye rolls but take a few minutes to read on, it isn’t as military as you are probably thinking. It is great to have a predictable evening routine with a set lights out time. When I say a routine I don’t mean you have to do every activity by the clock, rather you are doing the same series of activities in the same order everyday. For example, you have dinner, bath, breast/bottle feed, quiet time and then bed. It could be a simple sequence of three to four activities that are predictable in everyday living.
By creating this routine both you and your child know what to expect throughout the evening. This in turn helps your child to be calm and also to settle more efficiently. Consistent and familiar routines enable your mind and body to relax for bed. There is also the added advantage that if your child is unsettled or ‘not themselves’ for one reason or another you can eliminate some of the causes as you have completed the routine. For example your child may scream when going to bed one night which is unusual, so instead you are more certain that there must be something else going on like teething or a temperature or potentially a developmental milestone.
If you think about your own evening routine it often has the same sequence. This involves eating dinner and completing the evening chores. Once these are done we often watch television or read a book until we are drowsy. This is our routine. If we have had a busy day at work we need this evening wind down time to be able to slow our mind and relax before bedtime. This is the same for our children.
By implementing a routine you will feel more in control and this in turn will make you feel happier and more relaxed. The evening routine helps your child more than you think as they are developing their sleep rhythms and habits. You are providing them with a lifelong skill.
‘Consistency in establishing sensitive and responsive routines throughout the day and night is known to help babies and children sleep through the night.’
Tresilian Sleep Book
With the holiday season fast approaching now is a great time to embed this behaviour. This routine then becomes predictable and helps your child to settle more efficiently when you are away on holidays or at your in-laws house. This will allow you to enjoy the festive season a little more!