I'm a formalist when it comes to my kids' schedules. The reason?
I strongly believe (and have seen first-hand) that the habits I help them form today will help them develop routines for health and success as they grow into adults. I've done a lot of research on this topic and numerous experts point to the fact that young children don't fully understand the concept of time, and a great portion of their security depends on the schedule they're given.
By giving them a routine, I have the power to help them understand the idea of a "before and after," which helps foster a greater level of self-control as the day unfolds.
For example, say Kensington and Sean Jr. are wanting to swim for a couple of hours (one of their favorite things to do), by establishing the fact that there are things that have to happen before a jump in the pool, it's much easier to manage expectations. Plus, they feel as though they've earned a moment of enjoyment versus getting what they want when they want it.
Setting expectations for bedtime is no different.
Here's how our sleep schedule works
#1 - Every night the kids eat dinner at 5:30 pm.
The start of our bedtime routine begins with dinnertime. Eating early in the evening gives them plenty of time to digest their food and feel at ease when sleeping. We also take this time to connect and talk about the fun experiences we had that day.
#2 - They get into the bath directly after dinner by 6:15 pm.
We try to make baths fun! Bubbles and bath toys are always a part of the mix. We also love colorful bath bombs with essential oils. My kids especially love the bath bombs with the surprise toy inside. The bath has been a sleep cue for my kids since they were newborns, so I make sure they get a bath every single night.
#3 - The kids get out of the bath, and I give them a mini massage to relax them.
I believe in the power of massage for healing and for calming. Studies show that touch not only impacts short-term development for infants and children, but there are long-term effects that can play a huge impact on the way they interact with the world as they become adults. As my kids ease into sleep, I hope each night they will completely release the burdens of the world and enter a state of bliss.
#4 - They brush their teeth, get pajamas on, and head up to their rooms.
My kids are learning early how important their dental health is, they both love brushing and flossing. The next step is getting cozy in their favorite pajamas that inspire them is a must.
#5 - We read books (they both pick out three each).
We love to read together! I don't want reading to be a lost art for my kids as they grow. Reading is so important because it sparks their imagination and creativity. It helps with brain development, communication skills, and social skills. They enjoy it so much that I set a three-book limit each or we would literally be awake all night reading together.
#6 - They are in their beds falling asleep by 7 pm.
There is no negotiating on time, no matter if it's in the fall months or the summer. And honestly, the routine we have in place usually has them dozing off by the time the lights are out.
We've done this routine every single night since I can remember. It's completely predictable for them, and they know exactly what's coming. I've been surprised myself sometimes as to how easy this routine has made our lives. It gives my husband and I time to connect, decompress from the day, have a glass of wine, and relax together.
And yes, when we travel, I stick to the same schedule. It makes traveling so much easier!