“Go to bed kids!”, “Sure mom, I just turned the computer off”. “And I’m just gonna put away my Xbox momma”. “The lights are off, sleep well mom. See you tomorrow”. Ha! I wish! One can only dream, right?. Newsflash: kids don’t work that way.

Bedtime is generally seen as that terrible, excruciatingly long process that happens at the end of the day, when you are already exhausted from work, taking care of your kids, taking care of the house, coming home from pilates, fighting over their insane requests at dinner time.

If you have especially busy days, bedtime can be the straw that broke the camel’s back and send you into a state of sheer frustration. And you don’t wanna explode, but some days you feel they just might break you. Kids…they don’t get it.

But, it doesn’t have to be like this, I swear.

The key word for bedtime is ROUTINE. I know, I know, it sounds boring and limiting and all kinds of icky. But seriously, this is the best thing you can do for you and your child. It doesn’t have to be very complicated, just a few essential things like cleaning up, brushing teeth, and getting into pajamas, plus some fun things like a book to read or some snuggles.

Activities will obviously vary from kid to kid, so figure out some that work for yours. A bedtime routine shouldn’t last longer than half an hour, or else you enter into the danger zone of “ten more snuggle minutes!” or “one more page of the book!” When time is up, time is up!

Before you even get to bedtime, there are a couple of things to keep in mind as well. Most kids need a reminder that bedtime is approaching, so that they can finish whatever they’re doing and get ready to, well, get ready for bed. Making sure they don’t eat too much before bed will help them sleep better too. Kids might need a snack, but it shouldn’t be anything heavy or else their sleep could be disrupted.

Kids need to have the proper environment to sleep in also. Make sure everything is the proper temperature and that they have comfy sleeping clothes (if they use any) and enough blankets and pillows. Shut the blinds or curtains to keep everything nice and dark for them and help them find their stuffed animal or doll if they sleep with one. Soothing music or a night light might be helpful as well.

Ok, so you say you’ve done all of these things, and your kid(s) still won’t go to bed? Ok. Just take a moment and think about any health concerns that could be causing a problem. Yeah, for real. It might not be all due to a bad case of “brat”. Tonsils could be the culprit, or maybe a mental health issue like anxiety or depression. Ask your family doctor how these can affect sleep and how to deal with them, and your child should sleep better.

Remember, a well-rested kid means better moods, better health, better grades, and less stressed out mommy who might need hours of massages and therapy! (although that doesn’t sound so bad)