Whilst routines are beneficial for any child, children with any type of sensory issue thrive on it. The world is an unpredictable place, routine and order relieve a lot of anxiety and stress, giving back some control for what is happening in the chaotic world around them.
Neiva is a child that thrives on routine.
Bedtime is a really important area that we try and stick to the same routine as much as possible. Sometimes, things crop up and we cant do anything about it but for the most part we try and keep to the same system. Here are some of the things that have worked for us:
Neiva loves Charlie & Lola, in fact so much of her communication is related to an episode she has watched and memorised and fortunately for the most part, she uses it in context. For example if she is hot, she will tell us she is “completely absolutely boiling”.
In one of the monthly Charlie & Lola magazines we buy for her, there was a whole section dedicated to “Bedtime”. Included in that was a page entitled “Bedtime Reward Chart” I cut it out and framed it. We ordered a set of Charlie & Lola reusable reward stickers from eBay and we were ready to go.
The downside to taking something out of a magazine is that you cant change the order or content to adapt it to your personal routine (however, there are plenty of free printables on the internet that do this). Fortunately for us, the order and content was perfect for us. And of course, being the hyperlexic superstar that she is, she reads the instructions beautifully.
So, Neivas bedtime routine is as follows:
She has to:
- “make my room ever so completely tidy”
- “have a very bubbly bath” (although showers are necessary if we are pushed for time, generally the bath wins)
- “put my pajamas on completely all by myself”
- “brush my teeth extremely carefully”
- “read a lovely bedtime story”
I like this routine. It works for us. Its simple and covers all bases. Some days we do have to skip the bath completely but since the rest of the routine is covered we generally get through this without much fuss.
There are days where we are back too late to start the set routine. As mentioned above when skipping bath time, as long as the majority of the list is covered we are usually ok. As long as we end with a bedtime story, bedtime is straightforward.
Reading a story to Neiva isnt a chore, its our favourite part of the day. And maybe this isnt the “thing” to do to encourage independence, but as they are only little once, we do often read her to sleep. Naturally, being a child of routine, she has her favourites. “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” and “The Little House” are regularly read. Currently we are reading “The Velveteen Rabbit“. As far as bedtime stories go, this is such a winner on so many levels. For Neiva, who loves the outdoors and nature, she adores this book. Its so gentle and wistful and dreamily written, the perfect bedtime story. Its long enough for her to go to sleep to, but short enough to get the ending (and it is such a good ending)
Finally, there are the nights where despite all the planning and routine following, she is just out of sorts and there is nothing we can do about it. So, for those nights its a few drops of Bach Night Remedy and an extra dose of patience.
My reward? A lovely glass of red wine waiting for me downstairs.