I like to think of strong bedtime routines as being like a Music Box: they start out brisk and engaging, and then they start getting slower, and slower…and slower…until that little ballerina comes to her inevitable halt. Children are experts at giving extra turns to the music box key! Younger toddlers might run away, hide behind the couch, get silly or upset; older children might ask for one more drink of water, trip to the bathroom, one last kiss, and on and on. Every time a child changes or prolongs the routine, he is giving a twist to that music box key: he speeds up the music, prolongs the play time. It is up to us to let him know that we’ve taken the key away, and the music box is slowing down. “You can have a drink of water when you wake up. Right now it’s bedtime.” You are the one controlling the energy, rather than being reactive to your child’s bids to twist the key. You wind down, helping your child’s body and energy get slower and slower, until both of you wind to a halt.
Winding Down for Bed
QUESTION: How are your bedtimes going? What’s worked well and what feels challenging? Try using the Music Box imagery and report back if it helps!