I highly recommend a consistent bedtime routine to help your child wind down after a busy day and prepare them for healthy, restorative sleep. However, once of the biggest complaints from my clients is that bedtime takes FOR.EVER. As children get older, they
may start to stretch out bedtime.
They need another book, another song, a glass of water, a bathroom break - the list goes on. So how can you make bedtime enjoyable and also efficient? Use a personalized bedtime schedule posted in their bedroom.
For younger children, a simple picture schedule can be useful. List the activities of the bedtime routine with pictures. You can use the schedule I created here or personalize one that works for your family. Follow the schedule each night, pointing out each step as you go. This way, your child will know what to expect. And if they start piling on the requests, you can simply reference the schedule and say, "Well the schedule shows 1 song, so now it's time to go to bed."
For older children, a checklist can help them to be more engaged and accountable. Allow your child to check off each item of their bedtime routine as it's completed. You can even offer a "reward" when they complete the checklist for the week. Again, use the chart I created, or personalize one for your family.
I've had clients create beautiful, laminated charts that hang in a frame on their child's wall. They use a dry erase marker to check off the activities each night. Or other client's have had their children help create the schedule by drawing pictures or using stickers. Or, if creativity is not your thing, keep it basic. The first chart I created for my 3 year old was on notebook paper with extremely poor illustrations. Don't worry about what it looks like, just create a schedule that works for your family and stick to it. You and your child will reap the benefits of a smooth and easy bedtime!