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Weekend Family Bedtime Routine
As a mum to two teens, the older I get, my mantra has become “Sleep is everything.” It supports us to feel well, energetic, and relaxed. To me, it’s life’s magic elixir!
If you’re looking for easy tips to get the whole family - parents included - in bed, on time and feeling well-rested, even on the weekends, this article is for you.
Instilling good sleep hygiene in young kiddos is a gift that’s the basis of life-long good health. And when we make it fun, our kids will love snuggling into bed each night – no persuasion needed!
Here’s How to Make Sleep Hygiene Fun
Ummm, “sleep and hygiene” sound clinical and anything but fun! What is it?
Sleep hygiene is all about giving yourself and your family the best possible chance of sleeping well every night of the week.
Why is this important? Good sleep is like a magic tonic that keeps a family happy, healthy, and (the parents) sane, no matter the stage of life our kids are in.
Here are some of the ways that getting enough sleep benefits our kids:
- Less likely to grumpy, unfocused, stressed, or lacking in energy
- Is an essential ingredient for them to learn, concentrate, focus, problem-solve and remember things
- In terms of overall health: a growing body and brain needs sleep to develop and function well
And for us, as adults? Learn more in this article “Why Sleep Is Important”
Depending on how old your children are take the time to talk to teens and tweens about the importance of sleep and the difference that good consistent sleep makes.
Bring it up over a relaxed weekend dinner, talking about how sleep affects our brains and bodies. Ask them how they feel when they don’t get enough sleep to put it in context.
Talk up the positives of how getting enough sleep not only helps them perform better in class, in exams and in sports. It also makes for a better mood and gives them the energy they need for all the different things they want to do with their friends. (Note: a separate article focusing specifically on Teens and Sleep is following in the next few days.)
Use this type of family talk as a stepping stone to co-create a new bedtime routine with your kids, so they feel included and empowered.
For younger children, you could talk about turning a sleep routine into a fun reward system by having something like a star chart on the wall. One they get to fill in the morning after if they’re in bed and asleep by a particular time.
Another idea is to ask your younger kids to help you create a fun night-time sleep routine, where everyone plays their part in getting your home ready for sleep (see Tip #3 below).
Bedtime Routine Inspiration
Why is a bedtime routine so important to health?
Sleep is as vital to our physical, mental, and emotional well-being as nutrition, fresh air, and exercise. And when we teach our children how to get the sleep they need, we set them up to become unstoppable.
A bedtime routine is what sets this magic in motion. How you prepare for bed can determine how quickly and easily you and your family fall asleep and get the hours you all need.
The biggest part of a pre-sleep playbook needs to include turning off electronics at least an hour before bed. And then keeping devices out of everyone’s bedroom for the entire night, as it’s the blue light from screens that is a chronic disruptor of our sleep.
Three Tips to Get Your Family On a Weekend Bedtime Routine
Tip #1: Have a Fixed Wake-Up Time
Of course, weekends are a time to be more flexible, but sticking to a consistent routine is what works best when it comes to kids and sleep.
So on weekends, aim to have everyone up within 1-1½ hours of what you usually are on a weekday. Because an ever-changing schedule is what keeps children and parents from getting into the rhythm of consistent sleep.
Tip #2: Delight in the Morning Sun and Daytime Activities
For our natural circadian rhythm to work in a way that encourages the body to sleep well, we need daylight. So throw open everyone’s blinds and open the windows for fresh air and sunshine.
Especially if you have young children, delight in the morning sun on weekends by getting everyone outside.
Helping them keep active during the day is also going to help them sleep better at night. Weather not great? Set up a fun indoor obstacle course in the lounge room/hallways and tire them out indoors.
Tip #3: Get Creative About Bedtime
Depending on your kiddos' age, create a fun night-time sleep routine that gets special attention on weekends. This might not be as easy to stick to during the week when life feels frantic. But on weekends, when there’s a bit more time to breathe, this can be a fun way to instill good sleep hygiene in even the youngest of kids.
Here’s how: Choose a task for everyone to do from the following list of examples that signals bedtime is coming, and that’s something that feels good:
- Tidy up bedrooms, so they feel calm and inviting
- Lay out everyone’s PJs
- Close the blinds
- Turn on any night-lights
- Choose the book to be read that night
- Put on soothing music or a nature soundtrack
- Get out the lavender oil to put in the essential oils burner, to help soothe tired little (and big!) minds
- Run a warm bath
Depending on your family, you could change up who does which tasks each day or change them each week.
Looking for more inspo on giving your family a healthy start in life?
Check out our Healthy Starts for Families: a wellness initiative designed to inspire healthy living at home and empower families to make the simple but meaningful lifestyle changes that will help them forward on their journey to better health.
Baby Sleep Schedule Inspiration
How does a weekend bedtime routine help my baby?
Perhaps the better question to ask here is, “how does a bedtime routine in general help, my baby?”. Babies and small children cannot distinguish between weekdays and weekends.
As much as we might think we want to change things up on weekends when it comes to babies, most of them thrive on routine. And routine is what can also keep new parents sane during those first few months.
Adequate sleep is essential for a baby’s developing brain and body and may help prevent language and reading problems later.
Three Tips to Help Your Baby Ease Into a Bedtime Routine
Tip #1 Help them to distinguish between day and night-time
Helping to ease your baby into a bedtime routine starts with teaching them a difference between day and night time. During the day:
- Open the curtains/blinds during daytime hours and have them laying in a sunny room when they’re awake. Interacting, talking, playing with them, and not worrying too much about everyday noises when they’re having day sleeps can help.
Tip #2 Prepare for the evening, in the same way, each night
- Keep the lights and your voice low
- Give them a warm bath in the later afternoon/early evening
- Burn a soothing scent at this time, such as lavender
- Sing them the same night time lullaby
- Don’t play and put them straight back into their crib after feeding
Each of these things helps to signal a difference between day and night-time.
Tip #3 Be open to different ways of helping your baby get off to sleep, while also teaching them to self soothe
In the past, Grandma’s tried-and-true method of swaddling a baby before putting them down to sleep often did the trick for getting a good night’s sleep for the whole family.
Today there are also more high-tech, baby sleep-promoting devices that make the “right amount of white noise” or “shush” a baby back to sleep without you needing to be in the room.
Be open to exploring different options while also considering that you can let them try to self-soothe and learn to fall asleep without your help. Depending on your baby's age, of course.
How can parents adapt to a baby’s routine and ensure they get enough sleep too?
Tip #1 Nap Whenever You Can
If you feel you’re not getting enough sleep at night, do everything you can to take a nap during the day when your baby is sleeping. Doing this needs to be your priority so that you can have the energy and presence of mind to be there for your baby (and partner) during waking hours. And cope with uninterrupted sleep at night.
Tip #2 Take Turns With Your Partner
Don’t hesitate to ask for help. Looking after a baby can be the hardest thing we’ll ever do.
If your partner can help with night-time bottle feeding (with formula or expressed milk), ask them to do so over the weekend, so you can catch up a little from the week.
If you’re on your own, reach out and ask a friend or relative to stay over occasionally so you can get some extra shut-eye.
Tip #3 Be prepared for your baby’s sleep pattern to change
Being mindful that all babies are different and have different needs can help keep your sanity intact. Never compare your baby to another, and take well-meaning family members’ comments with a grain of salt if they’re not helpful.
The Bottom Line
Good sleep is a superpower – no matter our age or day of the week.
What do you do to keep your family on a sleep routine over the weekend? Please share in the comments below – you might have a tip that makes all the difference to another family!