Why Stories Are Essential To A Stress-Free Bedtime Routine
If you’re a parent, you know that children are always on the go. This energy can be an adventure, but it can also be a bit chaotic. It is crucial that as a parent, you create a firm anchor for the day in the form of a stress-free bedtime routine.
One of the best additions to a bedtime routine is storytime. Bedtime stories have the power to calm children down while exercising their imagination. If a child goes to bed after hearing a story, they will have peaceful dreams that keep them asleep while also boosting their cognition and reflection. This article will outline the reasons why stories are an essential bedtime routine.
Bedtime Routines Provide Security
During sleep, your body undergoes critical healing. Throughout the day, a child will have exposure to a variety of different conditions and interactions that affect their mood and development. If they do not have the proper amount of rest, bad sleeping habits can form. By constructing a bedtime routine that your child is excited for, you demonstrate the importance of sleep.
Depending on the age of your child, they may already be in preschool or kindergarten. If they are exposed to external stimuli regularly, then they will be faced with situations and interactions throughout their day that may take a toll on their emotions. If a child knows there is a safe resting place when they come home it can provide them with peace. If a bedtime routine continues for an extended period, a child can rely on this time as a secure part of the day when the only thing they need to do is listen and rest.
Allows Decompression After Long Days
When you think of a long day, you probably imagine yourself after a hard day at work. But in many cases, a child can experience just as much stress throughout the day; however, vocalizing it can be hard for them.
Throughout their time at school or in daycare, a child will be stimulated by the other children, games, toys, and teachers. A child learns from everything. They observe and notice when things change. When put into new scenarios, a child can often become frightened and nervous. Usually, it takes time for a child to become entirely comfortable in a new situation because it may be entirely new to them.
A child expects comfort and familiarity when they come home. Many children can hold onto their issues throughout the day until they get back as they know they can fully express themselves. When it comes to bedtime, having a story with characters they recognize will help them decompress.
Therefore, bedtime is a sensitive part of the day that requires careful planning. While a bath is a perfect way to wind down your child, having a story they can fall asleep too is an essential tool in developing a strong foundation for their learning. The reliability of a story helps the day’s events fully sink in. By shifting their focus to a book, you engage their empathetic and compassionate emotions filling them with good feelings before they drift away.
Helps The Mind Process Large Concepts
As mentioned above, throughout the day, your child will encounter many scenarios that they may not understand. By reading them stories before they fall asleep, you can help them to comprehend broad concepts that may have presented themselves throughout the day. For example, if a child is outside in a play yard, and they are engaging with a toy, they may be reluctant to share the toy with another child. They may not see why this is unfair. The reason is that the child does not fully understand the power and importance of sharing.
By reading your child a book in which the results of sharing are exemplified, such as two characters becoming friends or working together, the next time they are in a similar situation, they will refer back to this story and remember how to behave. Books help children to learn about courage, love, revenge, and friendship. They demonstrate explicit action vs. consequences scenarios that are very useful in teaching a child about real-life interactions.
Boosts Memory and Cognition
When you were in high-school or receiving your post-secondary education, you may have heard that if you studied before you went to bed, you were more likely to remember the content. It is a common practice among all ages of people but is even more impactful for toddlers.
A toddler that is put to sleep by a bedtime story has a better chance of memorizing new vocabulary, heightening their literacy, and comprehension levels. Creating a bedtime routine that is story-centric will prove to be one of the greatest things you can do for your child’s brain. Not only does it lower their stress, but it also fills their dreams with reassuring and vocabulary rich content. If you read your child stories from a variety of genres, you can help them to learn a broader range of vocabulary. If you get in the habit of doing this every night, your child will soon grow to love this part of the day and start reaching for books on their own.
While sleep may come naturally to many, it is a skill that you must practice. By creating a routine that focuses on story-telling and books, you can eliminate a high-stress scenario from arising. A child that knows what is coming allows them to prepare, thus calming them down mentally. Not only will you be helping your child have better dreams, but you will also be investing time in their future success.
Tips For Creating A Bedtime Routine
So what are some of the ways we can create a good bedtime routine for our children? Here are some tips:
- Make the routine short and predictable. A story can be a great part of a bedtime routine.
- Make the routine soothing, with gentle light and sound.
- Make the bedroom cool and dark. Studies suggest the best temperature for sleeping is somewhere between 60-68 Degrees Fahrenheit.
- Use a white noise machine.
- Set a bedtime and keep it. Set a wake-up time and try not to vary it by more than an hour, even if your child has had a restless night.
- Eliminate screens especially before bedtime. On top of the fact that a lot of screen activity is stimulating, the blue light from screens suppresses the production of melatonin.
- Keep naps brief and schedule them for early afternoon.
- This might seem obvious, but no heavy meals, caffeine, or sugar before bed.
- Encourage physical exercise during the day and outdoor time.
Tools For A Great Bedtime Routine
There are a plentitude of strategies for developing a good bedtime routine. On top of that, there are some tools that can help as well. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Storypod - With a customizable bedtime mode complete with a built-in nightlight, and white noise soundscapes, the Storypod is the first in the list of tools for parents trying to establish a good bedtime routine. Add to the above features the fact that the device will tell your child stories, sing them lullabies, or even read them a book, it's hard to not see how this won't become an essential tool in your toolkit.
- Black out curtains -Studies have shown that even a dim light can hinder a person's sleep cycles. Obviously, use your best judgement, and consult with your family pediatrician when determining how much light to use in your child's sleeping space.
- Cooling matress pad - With a wealth of data out there suggesting that cooler temperatures provide us with a sounder sleep, keeping cool while sleeping is a must. We really like the Chilipad. Previously only available for larger humans, they recently released a smaller version for children.
- Weighted blankets - Originally used by occupational therapists, weighted blankets have been demonstrated to be something that can be beneficial for many. From relieving anxiety, helping soothe hyperactivity, and promoting deeper sleep, the benefits are striking. Weighted blankets shouldn't be used in children below the ages of 2, although there are things known as weighted sleep sacks for that age group. Always consult your pediatrician.
Consistency in bedtime routines is critical in whisking your little ones off to Sleepytown. Stories certainly can be an essential part of a well established bedtime routine. With all the benefits, it would be silly not to include story time into a nightly routine. Furthermore, by following the advice above, using the tools listed, and using your best judgement, your little ones will develop great sleep habits and be well rested for whatever adventure the next day brings!!