If you follow me on Instagram you will know that I travel a lot. I am based in both Canberra and Sydney (3-hour drive between the two cities) and I do frequent trips to Melbourne, Brisbane and other places. It’s rare for me to spend 2 weeks at home. If you are a mum, you will know that this isn’t a convenient lifestyle to lead when you have a 1 year old. And no matter where I am, from 4.30pm onwards I have a tired-grizzle-pot baby on my hands. I’ve found if I don’t have a routine to follow myself, including a mindset routine, I tend to get fairly frustrated and stressed around the dinner/bath/bed mark, and I noticed this was really having an effect on not only my wellbeing but Finn’s too.
Bedtime Rituals for Toddlers
Rituals and routines are helpful to follow with little ones, especially those whose surroundings are often changing. Young babies and children crave familiarity and are much calmer when they know the process. Over time, I have been learning some things that work for us to make evenings as smooth and comfortable as possible no matter where we are, and I thought I’d share these with you. The best thing about them is that they’ve brought wellbeing to my life too – instead of bedtime being stressful it’s now enjoyable – although I would still rarely describe bedtime as easy.
Tips to keep Mum sane at bedtime
Acceptance – it will be a bit crazy
There’s no magic formula (at least not one I’ve discovered) to make toddlers free from tired signs at the end of the day, especially after a long day travelling. So whilst you can’t change your situation, you can change the way you think about it. For me, this was key to making bedtimes more enjoyable and less stressful. These are the thoughts I changed included:
- ‘I don’t want to do the bedtime routine, he’s so grumpy and hard to deal with then’ changed to ‘I’ll enjoy the bedtime routine because I am going to treasure this opportunity to care for this little one’; and
- ‘I don’t want to bath him, it takes too long’ changed to ‘I look forward to bathing him, what a great time of the day to spend quality time together because he really loves playing in the baths – especially when there’s bubbles involved.
When you change the way you think, you can actually change the way you respond because with practice, you’re creating new neuropath ways in the brain.
Awareness and committing to change
As babies get older, habits that once worked – like feeding to sleep, can become tiring. It’s good to be aware of what you specifically find difficult by talking to your spouse about it and then seeing if there is a change that can be made to reduce the burden on you. Young children take time to adapt to change so remember it will likely be harder before it gets easier, but if you both commit to the change – eg. Dad does bed time routine for a week to break the feeding to sleep cycle, it will likely work because baby learns the new routine and Mum and Dad have each other for support.
Our bedtime rituals
Rituals are formal tasks performed regularly. These tasks are given weight and significance. Applying this concept to tasks in everyday life helps you to appreciate and enjoy the once mundane tasks. These are the rituals our family currently uses, however we occasionally adapt it as we learn other things, or orders, that work better by either being more efficient, fostering more quality time or assist in nurturing a calm environment before bed.
Eat nourishing wholesome foods together
Eat a wholesome nutritious dinner as a family, around the table, free from TV, phones or laptops. Dinner is also a great opportunity for quality family time. We eat simple meals made from wholefoods, often ones that can be prepared ahead of time or within 10 minutes to make the afternoon run smoother. A lot of those are the dinner recipes (like this Mango, Cauliflower and Coconut Curried Rice recipe) you can find under the recipes tab.
Get clean and calm with a bath
This is Finn’s favourite part of the night routine and it may be mine too. Baths can be found pretty much everywhere we travel. On the odd occasion it may be a shower if we are in a limited hotel room, but I try to find hotels with a bath so we can keep this important part of Finn’s routine.
Baths are great because they can easily be familiar no matter where you are (his face lights up when he hears me run the water), they are fun but don’t hype him up too much, he is getting clean and it’s great quality play time for us. To make baths even more familiar, I travel with the same bubble bath product that we use at home as well, he recognises the smell and the bubbles.
I use ecostore’s kids Double Trouble Bubble Maker in Pear Pop, purchased from Chemist Warehouse. Finn goes crazy for the bubbles and I love the fragrance. He also prefers the bubbles to any of his toys, which is a win in my books – less stuff to pack! If you’ve followed me for a while you will know that I am wary of the products I bring into my home and believe the products that I use on our skin should be just as nourishing as the food we eat; and this bubble bath is full of plant-based ingredients that are kind to his thin, delicate, new skin. There are so many children’s bath products out there that contain many unnecessary nasty chemicals and synthetic fragrances, so it’s nice to find one that is safe while still being fun. Choosing the right products allows you to a little bit of good every day are what help contribute to a better tomorrow!
I also appreciate that it is a concentrated formula so you don’t have to use much to get a bath filled with bubbles and it isn’t tested on animals! The packaging is biodegradable and the bubble bath is grey water and septic safe. I trust the science behind ecostore products to deliver safe, sustainable, healthy products so that I can foster a healthy home and a better world for my family. I love the idea of teaching and empowering Finn to make choices that keep his body, home and environment within these ideals. I want safe and sustainable products to be a norm in his life.
Give thanks and sleep soundly
Once Finn is dressed for bed and brushed his teeth I will give him a breastfeed and we will read a story together. Then we say a short and simple prayer of thanks for the things God gave us that day – as every day has something to be grateful for. This is a lovely way for me to unwind and refocus too.
Parent quality time is essential
Once he is sound asleep, my husband and I do some tidying up of the house and kitchen, and then relax with a cup of tea and some dark chocolate as we talk about our days. Having this time of rest is so important for our mental health, relationship and ability to perform well throughout the day. Some nights I’ll do work but only after this special time together.
Simpler evenings have positive results
Now there are times where some of these things don’t happen, or other things come up, or Finn just doesn’t have a sound sleep; but I do try to prioritise these rituals. Since turning my focus to more simple family evenings, I am finding a big difference in my wellbeing and daily interactions with my family and don’t dread the witching hour anymore.
Do you follow any particular bedtime rituals? I would love to hear what you do for a simpler and calmer family evening!
This post has been proudly sponsored by Ecostore. All opinions are my own and haven’t been influenced in any way, I only work with brands I’ve already tried, tested and loved. Thanks for supporting the brands that make Eat Pray Workout possible.