Attention all parents! Raise your hand if you struggle to get your kids to fall asleep easily. Every parent dreads the frustrating task of avoiding the “bedtime battles” – the moment when kids use every tactic to stall bedtime. But the good news is that mindfulness is here to the rescue. It works. And in this article, we’ll discuss several mindful evening routine ideas for kids that actually work. Yes, it’s possible to get your kids excited about bedtime.
9 Benefits of a Mindful Evening Routine for Kids
Kids thrive on routine. They may fight them, but like adults, they feel better when their routines are predictable and familiar. Here are a few more benefits that aid their overall wellbeing.
- Reduces anxiety – kids appreciate predictability
- Fosters confidence – they learn to manage their own tasks
- Aids deeper sleep and fewer wakeups
- Increases emotional regulation
- Decreases stress
- Improves emotional bonding with caregivers
- Develops a sense of security
- Creates stability
- Establishes healthy habits
8 Mindful Evening Routine Essentials for Kids
When developing a mindful evening routine for your little one, you’ll want a creative toolbox to engage their senses. Each of the essentials below activates one of their core five senses and encourages the feel-good benefits of mindfulness.
- A bedtime routine chart helps children feel secure. When they have a visual aid, they know what is expected of them, which fosters self-regulation and decreases anxiety
- If your child struggles with a mindful routine, timers are great to incorporate fun and discipline. For example, they can be used as a game (who can start the quickest?) or to limit screen time and transition between tasks
- Feeling charts encourage children to recognize, identify, and regulate their feelings
- Candles, nightlights, or glow stars are all sensory tools to calm anxiety, create a relaxing atmosphere, and decrease fear
- Sound machines, white noise, or soothing music mask unwanted noise that may prevent deep sleep
- Lavender shampoo, body wash, essential oils, or lotions set the tone, reduce anxiety, and promote sleep
- Their favorite stuffed animal is critical for a mindful routine. Not only is it their sidekick to battle scary night monsters, but it’s also your secret weapon to receiving a peaceful sleep – parents need restful zzz’s too
- Both positive affirmation cards and growth mindset cards teach gratitude, self-love, and important life lessons
8 Mindful Evening Routine Ideas for Kids
Storytime is always a moment to mindfully connect, but take it up a notch. For example, create a bedtime story where you include the main character as someone in the family and explain they need to guess which family member it might be. This creative twist will keep them glued to the story and fosters creative thinking skills. It may even become a new bedtime ritual!
2. Ask about their day
After you read them a bedtime story, mindfully ask about their day through ‘roses and thorns’. Here’s how to play:
- The best part of their day represents the rose
- And the worst part represents the thorn
- If you have time, add in the rosebud, which symbolizes what they’re looking forward to
Pro tip: Pull out the emotion chart to have them recognize and identify their feelings during the thorn step.
While mindful screen time does exist, try to unplug at least 1 hour before bedtime. Blue light from any device can stimulate your child, decreasing melatonin levels and making it far more difficult for a stress-free bedtime. If they fight it, explain one hour before bed is mindful quality time. Unfortunately, you may have to say no more than once – the joys of parenthood.
4. Engage their senses
Creativity and mindfulness go hand in hand, especially for kids. To practice, engage their senses with a few bedtime chores. For example, facilitate touch during bath time by rubbing their back with their favorite washcloth. Or teach them to mindfully brush their teeth by focusing on the taste and feel. Additionally, set the tone for a happy sleep environment by dimming the lights, playing soothing music, and lighting a candle for scent.
One of the best mindful evening routine ideas for kids and the simplest is to cuddle. While you’re tucking them in, jump in for a quick snuggle and teach them how to focus on the present moment. For example, give them a long hug and ask them if they can hear their heartbeat, then yours. Afterward, check in with how they’re feeling – both of you will be noticeably more relaxed from the surge of love hormones.
After a long day at school, you and your children will both benefit from winding down. Your “unwind” time will look different depending on your preferences, but a few favorites include:
- Lavender essential oil – spray their pillow or place a few drops on their wrists for a calming effect
- Bedtime meditation to destress and relax
- A gentle body scan to teach them how to connect with their mind and body
7. Repeat positive affirmations
How we speak to our children greatly impacts their behaviors and mindsets. For example, if your child discusses their night fears, and you slug it off, they might be more reluctant to come to you and resist bedtime. Instead, spend a few minutes before bedtime repeating positive affirmations for kids and teaching the importance of a growth mindset. Here are a few examples:
- Today I did my best – now I can rest
- I have the power to overcome my fears and sleep well
- A happy mind is taken care of and sleeps in peace
8. Give them agency
Every child is unique and will respond differently to mindfulness. Therefore, encourage their participation when building your routine to welcome their input. Here are a few ways to give them agency:
- Allow them to choose from limited options (What book they want to read, pajamas to wear)
- Create a mindful checklist of their preferred stuffed animal, soothing music, nightlight, etc.
- Ask them what makes them feel better when they’re anxious
When kids receive agency over this step, they are less likely to resist you and bedtime overall.
If you struggle to get your kids to bed, you’re not alone. It’s a challenge for many. The “one more” sips of water, books, and cuddles are testaments to your patience. But this collection of mindful evening routine ideas for kids will create a more peaceful experience for both you and your children. Yet you may have to complete a few nights of trial and error to determine what works for your child. And we all know mornings can also be a real struggle. Therefore, check out the mindful morning routine ideas for a less chaotic start.
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