This is the last column in the three-part series on how to get your child ready and out the door for school while keeping your sanity.

First, do as much preparation as you can the night before. Second, keep things moving in the morning. And finally, establish a bedtime routine.

Routines are important because they signal to the mind and body that it is time to unwind and get ready to fall asleep. Consistent routines are helpful because they allow children to feel some sense of control over their sleep environment, knowing what is coming next during bedtime.

You must find time for your child to wind down at least one hour before going to bed.

An example of a bedtime routine would be: (1) play, (2) bath, (3) brush teeth, (4) pajamas, (5) dim lights, (6) chat time, (7) read a story, (8) prayers, (9) lights out.

Reading aloud to your child just before bedtime is a great idea because it quiets him down after a day of activity, it gives you quality bonding time together, and it gets him into the habit of reading.

Stick to the bedtime routine. By using a routine each night, kids will not only get used to going to bed, but they will be less resistant because they know what to expect, and bedtime won’t come as a surprise.

Be sure you start the routine in time for bedtime to be at the proper time. Keeping timely bedtime routines prevents stall tactics on the part of your child and allows you a good timeframe to work with so that you do not go over the prescribed bedtime for your child.

Once you decide on a time for bed and a bedtime routine, be as consistent as possible. Children crave consistency. It makes them feel secure emotionally even when they fight against it at times.

Every living creature needs to sleep. Circadian rhythms, or the sleep-wake cycle, are regulated by light and dark. Sleep is especially important for children as it directly impacts mental and physical development.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends the following as appropriate sleep times:

• Preschoolers (ages 3-5): 10-13 hours.

• School-age children (ages 6-13): 9-11 hours.

• Teenagers (ages 14-17): 8-10 hours.

The benefits of getting your child to bed earlier are priceless: better emotional, developmental, and physical health.

The bedroom:

• Be sure the room has a suitable TEMPERATURE for sleeping (65-68 degrees).

• A DARK ROOM will help your child fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer in the morning. Light sends signals to our brain to wake us, so eliminating as much light as possible will help your child’s body produce melatonin, which helps with restful sleep.

• WHITE NOISE. Many children sleep more easily with some white noise in the room. This is particularly helpful when siblings in the home make noise during your baby’s sleep time or if you tend to hear sounds from outside your home at night or early in the morning.

Make this time of day a priority for your child, and you will likely be rewarded with sweet memories and a healthier child.

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