It's a lot of pressure to be a role model for your family. Nobody's perfect, and it can be tough to put your best foot forward in front of your significant other or kids all the time. One of the biggest favors you can do yourself in trying, though, is getting enough sleep, and helping the rest of your family to do the same. It's a bit of a paradox, though, in that adults are often the worst about exercising habits that rob us of sleep. Maybe some tips are in order.
The easiest way to convey how much you value something--in this case, precious sleep--is to show others, demonstrably, how much it means to you. Get a routine going in your house that indicates just how important it is to get to bed. This should include predictable rituals and comforting structure. It should also begin early, with plenty of time to finish up what everyone is doing, and to account for "bedtime resistance." If a favorite show is on at bedtime, it might be time to invest in a DVR. When the "just-five-more-minutes" puppy dog eyes come out, be resolute and caring. Stand firm, but loving. You are a well-rested warrior, and late-night sugar, screens and excuses are the enemy.
So, showing and not telling that sleep is important is key to winding down. But it may not be enough to just set a "lights-out" time and leave it at that (though that can be a great place to start). It seems obvious, but it merits mentioning that the more engaged in the process you are, then the more engaged your family will be. Reading to a child, or having them read aloud is a classic bedtime tactic, and deservedly so. To keep all parties in the moment, why not try spinning your own yarn? A lot of people take that request like they just got asked to do karaoke for the Superbowl halftime show, but in reality nothing could be less pressure. Think about how you talk to your spouse and your coworkers. We tell stories all the time. We tell stories so often we don't even realize it's one of the primary conventions we use to get a point across, or to fill in gaps in a conversation. And no one knows your child better than you. So, adapt the first thing that comes to mind and interject some of their favorite things into it. Sooner or later it will start writing itself. If you're really stuck, check out some tips to break storyteller's block.
As Katherine Kvols puts it in her linked article above, "You can make bedtime a time of nurturing, closeness, shared communication and fun." All it takes is patience, creativity and teamwork. Good luck and sweet dreams to our extended family out there from Bedzzz Express.
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