When they’re wild and tired, it’s hard to remember that kids thrive on ritual. The closer it is to bedtime, many kids seem to suddenly suffer from an affliction that renders them allergic to order. But we all know that kids are comforted by routine. We know it because we read it and because our pediatricians tell us, and because we know intellectually, but the harder the bedtime struggle becomes, the easier it is to – in your heart of hearts – believe that your child is different…that bedtime is just easier for everyone else. If this is how the big bummer of bedtime goes down in your house, chances are you’re stressed out by then too. And then kids mirror that energy, which creates an exhausting loop of raw nerves. A custom going-to-bed book lets you work with your child to premeditate every step of the evening, reassuring both you and your child that what happens at bedtime is safe, predictable, loving and comforting – and that it will end with sleep.
Outline Your Routine Start by writing down a list of exactly what you do to start moving toward bedtime with your child. Be as specific as possible. Instead of just bath-time, jammies-on, teeth-brushed, in-bed, spell out the little things that make it all feel like a ritual. For example, look at the clock together and say – it’s 7:30, time for your bath! Followed by smiles and a silly song as you draw the bath. Towel-ensconced snuggles on the way to getting jammies on, etc. And make sure you add books to the ritual – specifically your special going-to-bed-book!
Make Tweaks As Needed Once you have your list, go over it with your child. If he or she wants to add a special ritual like putting a little blanket over a lovey, add that to your list. You want to drive the general sequence of the bedtime routine, but the more your child feels he or she has a say in what happens, the more likely empowerment will come into play in carrying it out. Make sure you have at least 10 things on your list – even if they’re small things like giving butterfly kisses. That way you’ll have a substantial enough book that you’ll look forward to reading with your child.
Have a Photo Shoot Once you have your list sorted out, check with your spouse to make sure he or she is also up for and capable of carrying out the same routine. Then start snapping pictures during the process. It may take a few days of sneaking photos during successful parts of the process. If you have one sticking point – like getting jammies on, for example – it may seem impossible to get a good shot of your child being cooperative as he or she getting dressed. In this case, consider snapping a shot in the morning when your child is still in jammies – a shot of your child smiling and in PJs will work just fine. If your child is older, he or she might just love the process of chronicling every step of the bedtime routine. If this is the case, plan for a little extra time and just go with it!
Upload Your Pictures & Add Captions Once you’ve chosen all the photos you want to include in your going-to-bed-book, upload them into a book template your child likes. Have him or her help you pick the design. Flow your photos into the template, then add short captions that describe what happens during each step of the bedtime routine. Make sure you add light, happy captions to your story, like – Oh, you look so cozy and warm under your blanket!
Read Your Going-To-Bed-Book Every night! When you’ve completed your book, print a copy and read it every night at the same time. Your children will love knowing they helped author – and starred in the production of – their very own bedtime story!
A going-to-bed-book is perfect for any child, but it can be particularly helpful for imposing order on the bedtime routine of children of divorced parents, or a child who spends nights on occasion with a friend or relative. Simply print multiple copies and ask that everyone putting your child to bed reads the book and follows the general routine.
Happy Mixbooking! Sweet dreams!