Bedtime – From Witching Hour to Golden Hour


How Does Bedtime Go In Your House?

For many families, bedtime is a real struggle.  Kids dawdle and parents are exhausted and get frustrated.  Before you know it, everyone’s “flipped their lids”!  (Daniel Siegel’s expression, for losing our “wise leader” mind and having our “alarm mind” take over in the form of fight, flight or freeze.  In the case of bedtime, this usually looks like “fight,” as yelling takes over).  It’s natural that everyone’s energy is running out at the end of the day, but what can we do to make bedtime a golden hour?

How Can We Change  Our Mindset to Think of Bedtime As A Golden Hour?

When our children are teenagers, they may not want us coming into their rooms at night anymore.

We need to take the time in the toddler, preschool, elementary years to create such a strong positive association around bedtime, that it increases the chances of our children wanting us to still spend time with them, hanging out with them in their bedrooms, when they are teens.  (This may look like hanging out on the end of their bed, or flipping through magazines side-by-side.)

The biggest gift we can give our children is the gift of time, yet with the “busyness” of life, it can be challenging to find the time to just connect and “be” versus “do”.  Bedtime is the perfect time to reconnect, and chat.  Lying side-by-side, with the lights out or dimmed, and no distractions, you may notice your child open up and be less inhibited, or relax into a deep state of peacefulness.  This is a treasured moment.

Children crave our 1:1 attention, but when we have more than one child it can be difficult to find time to give each child some individual attention.  While one parent spends time with one child, perhaps another child could read or look at picture books, and the other parent may be able to spend time with the third child, and then continue this rotation, until each child has had their 1:1 time with each parent.  A child’s relationship with each parent is different and therefore, it’s important, when possible, for both parents to participate in the golden hour.

Read Love You Forever by Robert Munsch, to remind us of how quickly our children will grow up.

By the end of the day, the “attention cup” inside all of us is usually drained from a busy day.  Having cuddles and “talk-time” at bedtime refills the attention cup and then everyone goes to sleep feeling nurtured and relaxed.

Alternatively, if bedtime is highly stressful, nobody falls asleep feeling good.  The memories of yelling linger and there’s tension in the air.

Proactive Strategies for Creating A Golden Hour

  • Give your kids, undivided attention – if you’re watching TV or on your computer, while asking your kids to get ready for bed, it’s going to be hard for them to feel motivated – they would rather be having screen-time too!
  • Create a consistent routine which involves lots of connection time so that bedtime is something they look forward to
  • Start the bedtime early enough,  in order that there’s lots of time for stories, cuddles, conversations etc. and then it won’t feel like a big rush to get everyone in bed on time   (Recommended sleep =  Infants (0-12 mos.) 14-18 hrs. /Toddlers (13-16 mos.) 13 hrs. including nap./ Preschoolers (37-60 months) 12hrs. including nap/ School-age (6-12 yrs) 10-11 hrs./ Adolescent (13-19 yrs.) 9.25 hrs./ Adult (20 yrs. +) 8.25 hrs.
  • Eat dinner early, in order that there’s enough time for a quality bedtime routine
  • Create traditions which everyone enjoys – singing for the younger ones, reading a story, telling your children stories about them when they were little, telling your children stories about your childhood, creating fantasy stories, having “talk-time” as you talk about the day, talking about a movie you all watched together, having a back rub, drawing “I Love U” on your child’s back etc.
  • Turn off the screens one hour before bed, in order that the flickering light from the screens doesn’t disrupt the brain’s preparation for getting sleepy.  Also, it’s much more difficult to get your child to transition to bed, if you’re asking them to go straight from screens (likely their most-preferred activity) to sleep
  • Play quiet music, a mediation/visualization, an audio book etc. in a child’s bedroom to help some children transition to sleep

One day our children will have moved out and we won’t have the pleasure of seeing them sleeping in their beds, all cozy under their covers.

The golden hour is a precious time for keeping our relationships strong, which is the foundation for everything.



PS. Registration is now open for my upcoming Self-Empowerment Groups. The focus of these groups is friendship dynamics/bullying, assertive communication, optimism vs. pessimism, problem-solving, self-regulation and gratitude. For more information, please see Fall 2015 Self-Empowerment Group. The groups are for boys and girls ages 7-9yrs. (this age group is full but you can join the waiting list) and 10-12 yrs. (this group still has 2 spaces available). You can register online here.

PPS. Did You Know That 96% of Kids Lie? To Receive: My Free Report On Why Kids Lie and What To Do About It, click here.

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