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Keeping A Good Bedtime Routine

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

As I wrap up sleep week, another common question I get from parents is how to have a consistent bedtime for children when your own schedule is not consistent.

I think it is best for kids to maintain some sort of schedule as they do well with knowing expectations and consistency, and that goes for bedtime routines too. That being said, if your schedule is inconsistent does that have to mean that your child’s is too? Not knowing the age of your child makes it a little harder. For a younger child bedtime can be at the same time but may have to be with a different caregiver, like a your-babysitter, spouse, or even having an older sibling help with the bedtime routine. I often got home later than I would have liked, and missed the bedtime routine with my kids when they were young, but felt it important enough that they went to bed on time that I would only get a goodnight hug and kiss long after they were asleep. On other days I made it a point to be able to be home for bedtime so that we had that experience together, even if only one night a week and weekends.

With older kids, even if your schedule is inconsistent, I would let them know the expectations of bedtime and lights out, even if that meant that I was going to have to call them to check in that this was happening. I also utilized a college student to come over in the evening to supervise the evenings and bedtime when necessary in order that my crazy schedule or my husband’s travel schedule did not disrupt most bedtimes.

There are so many studies that re-iterate the importance of bedtimes and good sleep to promote school readiness, attention in class, academic performance and success in kids that I tried to make their schedules as consistent as possible.

That wraps up a special week focusing on sleep. We’ll chat again soon.

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