It’s no secret that kids thrive on routine. Childhood is packed with unknowns and constant change, so knowing what to expect at certain times of the day allows them to feel safer and more secure. In particular, establishing a consistent nighttime routine can have a slew of benefits for both parents and children. Nightly rituals can cut down on the stress of bedtime and help to instill good sleep habits. Bedtime can also become a special time of day. In Hoda Kotb’s new book, You Are My Happy, the Today show co-anchor touches on how bedtime can be a time of gratitude. Here are a few ways in which you can make the most of the time just before your child goes to sleep:
Reflect on the day.
Bedtime is a daily opportunity to check in with your child. There are fewer interruptions in a quiet, darkened room, and this alone often inspires children to open up and share details about their day. It also makes them more likely to bring up any questions or worries they may have. Giving your child just a few minutes of undivided attention will invite them to talk and can nurture your relationship with them.
Take a moment to be grateful.
Ask them about what they are grateful for, and don’t hesitate to share your own thoughts. In You Are My Happy, a mama bear and her cub cuddle together before closing their eyes for a good night’s sleep. In this time, they reflect on the everyday wonders of life that make them happy. You want to encourage your child to share their worries and their fears, but you also want to help them appreciate and marvel at the world — something at which they are inherently good at. Listening to what they have to say will brighten up your day as well as theirs.
Talk about tomorrow.
Tell them the plan for the next day. Remind them of any routines you may have, as well as any new things that they may be able to look forward to. Ask them what they are excited about. Whether it’s going to school, seeing a friend, or just reading another chapter of a book on the go, knowing that there is something to be excited about the next day can soften the blow of an early bedtime and also add a bit of structure to the next day.
Read a story.
We are huge advocates of incorporating story time into bedtime. There are so many perks to reading to your child every day. Reading can help build empathy, aid language development, strengthen your relationship with your child, and ultimately make them more likely to be successful later in life. Choosing a gentle, lullaby-like story like I’ve Loved You Since Forever can also help them wind down at the end of the day. Reading aloud to your child, even once they are able to read on their own, is a sweet way to stay connected to them well into the teen years — and even adulthood.
Tell them you love them.
How do you wind down with your child at the end of the day? We’d love to know!