How to Create a Simple Holiday Bedtime Routine
by Kate Saffle
A year ago
My favorite time of the day during the holiday season is right before bedtime. We’ve finally wrapped up a long day, the dinner dishes are washed and the table cleared, and the lights are dimmed. My kiddos put on their Christmas jammies (a staple for the 6 or so weeks at the end of the year and worn well into the next!) We light a beeswax candle and flow into a very simple and peaceful bedtime routine.
Do you have a routine that feels comforting and eases your babes to sleep? It doesn’t have to be perfect or exactly the same every night (because goodness knows my kids have seen a variety of bedtime rhythms throughout all of our seasons of life), but it does help to have a flow that is familiar.
Creating a similar bedtime flow each night gives your child a familiar touch-point. It’s an intangible way to remind them that they’re home (wherever or whatever that may be) and that it’s safe to drift off to sleep. During the holidays when there is so much excitement (and honestly, sometimes too many sweets), it’s especially comforting for kiddos to know that come bedtime, familiar is the name of the game. The upcoming holiday season is the perfect time to try a slow and comforting bedtime routine.
A Simple Bedtime Routine for Young Children
- After dinner, clean up as a family and then have your children put on their jammies
- Read for about 30-60 minutes as a family and choose a light story with no heavy or overly dramatic storylines (more on this in a moment.) This is the time for some major cuddling and giving your kiddos the extra hugs and snuggling that they’re craving.
- If you had an especially early dinner, consider a small bedtime snack, like toast with butter and jam and a warm glass of milk with cinnamon sprinkled on top. With a winter bedtime snack, always aim for something to fill their bellies and something to warm their hearts.
- Brush teeth and tuck them into bed
- Light a candle and use this time to:
- Preview the next day's schedule in very simple terms
- Speak from the heart: say a prayer, give a blessing, or express gratitude
- Choose a child to blow out the candle
- Listen to a bedtime meditation as needed (more below!)
- Lights off, but stay close by as they ease into sleep
Tips for Easing Children into Peaceful Sleep
- Avoid screens after dinnertime. The blue light is stimulating to their little brains (and ours too!) and can affect their ability to go to sleep and stay in a deep sleep.
- Keep adult conversations light. No talking about politics or tragedies in the world; saving adult conversation for post-bedtime ensures that our kids don’t worry about things happening in the world that they cannot control or don’t understand.
- Resist the urge to allow your children to stay up later than usual because it’s the holidays. A consistent bedtime will help them better manage their emotions during the day and get the rest they need to stay healthy and calm during the hectic holiday season.
- Read very simple and non-fantasy based bedtime stories because the ideas and images our children consume before sleep may very well appear in their dreams. It’s so important to provide them with beautiful and peaceful stories for a restful night’s sleep.
- Some all-time favorites holiday and winter stories include:
- Christmas in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
- Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
- The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
- The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
- The Nutcracker by Susan Jeffers
- Dream Snow by Eric Carle
- The Story of Holly and Ivy by Rumer Godden
- Winter: An Alphabet Acrostic by Steven Schnur
- Previewing the next day is a great way to help little ones understand what’s happening in their lives and give them a small sense of control. It definitely shouldn’t be overly detailed, but rather just an overview.
- Leave lights off after blowing out the candle. The amber lightwaves from the candle help children’s eyes adjust to night time (similar to the effect produced by sitting around a campfire). Turning on a bright light can reverse this positive effect.
Does your child struggle to fall asleep?
One of my favorite tricks I keep in my back pocket for bedtime is a meditation app. I recommend Sleep Meditations for Kids, an app that you can find in the Google Play Store and in the App Store. These are high-quality, 30 minute long meditations that help young children relax their bodies and minds through stories about fairies, mermaids, rainbows, and other beautiful and comforting imagery. Turn the screen off while it plays so that your little ones can focus on hearing the stories and being lulled to sleep.
Adopting a comforting holiday bedtime routine
The approach of winter and the shorter days reminds us that there is value in rest and slowing down. We can model this for our children by implementing a peaceful and intentional bedtime routine. We hope that these suggestions offer encouragement and direction as you envision your own unique bedtime routine and create a comforting nightly rhythm for your children.
What are the touch-points of your family’s nightly bedtime routine? We would love to hear!
You can catch more from Kate by visiting her at https://thestreamlinedlife.com.