Children, who resist bedtime always want “Only one more game, please?” Why not make life easier for both of you with some fun bedtime activities?

Every day you spend so much energy on having a great time. Ending your days on a sad note can seem like a waste. How you interact with your children before bed stays in their minds through the night. Time together before bed should be spent connecting and bonding as a family.

Why do most nights feel like a nightmare?

Completing your evening routine without nagging, yelling and losing your patience is almost impossible. Getting your children to listen can feel like a chore. However, it would help if you took a moment to think about it. Your children have spent the whole day working hard to listen to instructions, have fun and learn. Handing out even more orders when they are tired can be too much.

Bedtime is a stressful time for both parents and children. Parents get annoyed by kids who will not listen, while the stress that children experience is more instinctual. Meaningful contact with other humans is a hard-wired need. Children naturally crave close contact with their parents, their primary caregivers. What parents often don’t realise is that bedtime can make children anxious. Signalling the longest period of the day that they are away from their parents, bedtime is naturally stressful for them.

Time to connect can be short on busy days. Children’s stress levels rise even more when their primary need for connection has not been properly met.

Playing – an antidote to stress.

playing a game relieves stress

Research indicates that playing helps children relieve stress through laughter, creativity and fun. Furthermore, to play is also a primary communication method for children. Try doing away with the ‘marching orders’. Bring in fun activities and say hello to children that respond quickly. 

Make bedtime easier for everyone.

Firstly add some texture to your child’s bed. A lumpy blanket is ideal. Imagine the adorable little toes peeking out. Furthermore, read them stories. Make sure to choose books that take you on adventure after adventure. Be sure to choose books with pictures. Pictures will stimulate a child’s imagination. All of these will help you to enjoy the ideal evening with your child.

Squeeze in precious bonding time and loads of fun while getting ready for bed. Here are seven games and activities to help you get your children ready for bed.

1. Play the No-light game.

Bedtime rituals are essential. They help create memories that kids will cherish forever. One such routine is turning off all the lights before bed. Doing this will instantly signal to your family’s brains that it is time to slow down. Harsh light sends signals to our brains that keep us awake. The less light there is, the more peaceful and quite the mood is.

Start with a candlelit dinner. Your children will feel like they are in a fairy tale. Following this with a low light bath is sure to get some sleepy time magic going. Warm water and dim lights are a powerful combination. Even the most stubborn children will be begging for bed after this. For a final delight, hand out some battery powered torches when everyone is ready for bed. A shadow puppet show before bed can be a special treat for your little ones!

2. Have a special bedtime snack.

Continuing on the thread of special bedtime rituals, a nighttime snack is a must have. Having something soothing before bed is often essential for kids. So why not spice it up and use it as an incentive?

Choose the snacks you want to offer your kids carefully. Many typical nighttime treats can work against you by increasing alertness or causing indigestion. Avoid foods that have any salt or artificial sugar. Try something like warm milk with honey, a whole-grain cracker with nut butter or a banana. All these foods are soothing on the tummy and healthy to boot. When the right snacks are chosen, not only will they help your little ones fall asleep quicker but also make them sleep deeper and longer.

Knowing that a special treat is waiting for them once they are ready for bed will add wind to children’s sails. The battle that used to be called ‘getting ready for bed’ will quickly become a race. Before you know it you will have clean, pyjama wearing angels in their beds waiting for their snack.

3. Have a toy scavenger hunt.

play a game of scavenger hunt to collect all toys that are lying around

To be able to participate in this game, the players only need to be old enough to walk. The last thing you want to do is nag about messy toys. Not only is it ineffective, but it is also downright tiring! Instead, have a quick look around and catalogue what needs picking up. Then have your children arm themselves with baskets in preparation for a scavenger hunt. Call out each item one by one and have them search for it. Once all the toys make their way to a basket, have the players put them in their proper places. If everyone works together, perhaps you can give them a prize, such as two stories instead of one

4. Play a game of hide-and-sleep.

Children can enjoy Hide-and-sleep as young as two years old.

Hide everything your child uses to get ready for bed in different places around the house. Place them in areas increasingly closer to their bedroom. Only one rule exists: When they find something they must use it immediately. Put pyjamas under the coffee table and have them change right there. Hide their toothbrush and toothpaste in the refrigerator, and when they are found go to the bathroom to use them. Place a book on the stairs and your child’s favourite stuffed animal on a chair. After seeing everything, your child will have gotten ready without even realising it.

5. Play a game of I Spy.

Looking through old family photo albums is relaxing and fun. Turn the entertainment levels up a notch by turning it into a game of I Spy. You will have an eager and attentive audience with this game. Ask toddlers to point to people and objects that appear on each page. Pre-schoolers will have loads of fun following requests like “Find Mommy with a bird on her head.” Older children will also enjoy this game as they search for “The silliest face Aunt May has ever pulled” or “the worst fashion decisions Dad has made.”

6. Make a game of sharing your days.

Family sharing time can play a crucial part in strengthening the bond between parent and child. You can either do this over dinner or while cuddled in bed. Take turns to share your favourite parts of the day before storytime. Sharing time is also a good time for them to voice what bothered them during the day. Doing this will provide insight into how they see and experience the world, and bring you all closer. Sometimes you will predict what they will say and other times they will surprise you. You can never be sure what will come out of their mouths. Every moment will be new and exciting. Hearing their thoughts will leave you understanding them more than before. 

7. Take a stroll in your pyjamas.

make a game of strolling through the park before bedtime

Walking in the fresh evening air can be invigorating for you. At the same time, it can be tiring for your child, making it the perfect pre-bed activity. Walking down the road in the evenings is the ideal way to get some exercise and fresh air. An evening stroll is also the perfect time to talk about your day. If your little one is still young enough to be pushed in a stroller, put on their pyjamas before leaving. You might find that they have nodded off before you get back home. Evening outings like this may surprise you by how much they are anticipated!

Bedtime does not have to be a struggle.

With these seven ideas, you can get your children ready for bed without any hassle. After doing these activities, you will all be able to go to sleep with a smile on your faces. Be prepared to transition from a relaxing evening to a night of sweet dreams!