Bedtime used to be a calm and tranquil wind down. Now, it’s the time of day you dread the most. Thankfully, our guide to busting the bedtime blues will help you side-step the tears and tantrums. Your toddler’s and yours!)
Once upon a time all your baby needed before bed was a bath, bottle and 22 minutes of Iggle Piggle and Upsy Daisy dancing around the Ninky Nonk.
Fast forward two years, and your beautifully behaved, freshly bathed bubba is now a fully grown tantruming toddler. So how do you restore order to the bedtime battleground?
Bedtime tantrums are far from uncommon and can be caused by reluctance to end activities, wanting to assert authority or simply being over-tired. All well and good, but when you’ve been running around after a crazed toddler all day or had a particularly stressy day at the office, bedtime can’t come soon enough. End the meltdown misery and reclaim your evenings.
Bedtime tantrums are far from uncommon and can be caused by a range of things
Start the wind down
'Give verbal warnings that activities are coming to an end. ‘“Just one more turn” works a trick,’ says Vicki Dawson, founder of The Children's Sleep Charity. This will help your toddler realise bedtime is getting closer.
Why not try using picture cards to remind your little one what’s happening next, helping him feel informed. For example a picture of dinner, followed by a picture of a bath and then toys. If only he was able to return the favour by holding up a picture of a glass of wine! You’re nearly there.
Routine, routine, routine
Just like babies, toddlers really do thrive on routine. It can be something simple like always having a story before bed or singing his favourite song – if you do it every night, he will start to pick up on the signals it’s nearly bedtime.
Keep calm and go to bed!
Engage your toddler in calming activities prior to bedtime.
‘An after-bath massage, followed by finger rhymes and a sensory story are good ways of getting the wind-down on track,’ says Vicki. Music can also be a good way of helping little ones relax at bedtime.
The toddler to-do list
Give your toddler jobs to do before bed, and lots of praise for completing tasks like putting his toys away and brushing his teeth. Not only will this reinforce the routine, but he may start to look forward to the bedtime build-up. Ok maybe look forward to is too much to hope for, but you see what we mean.
Cut him some slack
If you were on a night out with Ryan Gosling, you’d be pretty miffed about that coming to an end. Likewise, your toddler is likely feeling pretty upset that his fun-packed day is drawing to a close. Let your tot know that you understand how they’re feeling by reassuring them you can do it all again tomorrow. The fun-packed day that is, sadly, not the date with Ryan Gosling…