Tears at bed time and not settling to sleep happily are a problem for many parents. A good routine and starting from an early age all help but most important, stay relaxed and expect success.
Exercise earlier in the day especially in the fresh air will be a good starting point followed by quiet games before bedtime. A warm bath helps relax children followed by a favourite story in a happy relaxed manner to help them wind down happily. A favourite soft toy, teddy or comfort blanket give comfort and security when tucked in beside your now relaxed and sleepy little one which should help them settle for a good night sleep.
When my tribe were small we had a simple bedtime routine. After walking home from school, rather a long jaunt for little legs, a drink and biscuits were welcome, they then amused themselves and enjoyed time to play whilst the evening meal was prepared. Help with preparation was reserved for weekends when more time was available. After their meal they were able to continue their games until bedtime. Although some were at school they weren’t yet set homework on a regular basis.
In the 1960’s The Magic Roundabout was the signal for bed. Shortly before, a reminder was given, “Who can pick up 10 things before your program”? A combined effort and a little help soon restored the room to normality and encouraged them to clear up their toys in a fun way. Toys away it was time to sit down and watch, followed by bath time teeth, toilet, story and bed.
There were no questions, no choice that was how it was. When you have so many children perhaps it is easier to get results as little ones follow others, we all trooped upstairs where they were all popped into a bubble bath. Start your routine early and it becomes what is expected.
Clean and relaxed it was time for a story. They had walked about 2 miles home from school; well all but the little ones, (one in the pram, and one on it); with the older ones trailing along. We often played I spy to help the journey. So with all that fresh air and exercise all were tired and ready for bed.
I didn’t allow or expect children to come downstairs in the evening but to stay in bed and go to sleep, this pretty much always happened. They didn’t have an opportunity to consider any other behaviour and were probably too tired anyway.
Keep calm, firm and consistent and you will get the results you want and expect. Just because you are firm about behaviours you think are important, doesn’t mean you are unkind or don’t love them. Just remember praise for good behaviour and have positive expectations. Set boundaries from the beginning and adapt them if necessary as the child grows.
I hope these suggestions started from a young age with give you peaceful evenings, and happy relaxed children.