Returning to school this week at the start of the new year has heralded a new bedtime routine in our house. Things tend to slip during the holidays, however hard we try to keep the normal routines going.
All 3 kids go upstairs at 8pm which may seem unfair when their ages range from 5-10 but this way they are all in the same place without me having to keep reminding them to go upstairs. Our two ASD children need constant prompting of what they need to do, so this helps them as well as me. It has also made the bedtime routine last 50 minutes so far this week rather than 2 hours as it did in the holidays!! All 3 of them get ready for bed then I spend 10 minutes with each of them in their bedrooms. I set a timer on my phone for 10 minutes and have been spending that precious quality time with each of them doing something of their choice.
Our youngest son has wanted me to read a story to him and help him to tell the time. I've played a game with our eldest son and he's tried to explain minecraft to me!! Our daughter has used the time to talk to me about things that have been bothering her all day which is an important release mechanism for someone with ASD. If she bottled everything up like she has done in the past it would result in no sleep for either of us as she would be up all night worrying. To try and make her 10 minutes more positive I have asked her each night to write on a post it note at least one thing that has made her happy or laugh during the day. She then folds it up and puts it in a box. At the end of the month we will look at all her notes together. I'm hoping it will help to improve her self esteem and make her realise there are a lot of good things in her life. It's very easy for her to get sidetracked and focus on the negatives - common in ASD.
I guarantee when the 10 minute slot has finished with our daughter, little man is still wide awake but he has been calmer this week and happy to let me put a story cd on for him to listen to so that I can go back downstairs. The oldest two tend to read for a little as well.
It won't always work so smoothly, as after school activities like cubs, street dance etc for the 2 oldest children mean that bedtime will fluctuate on some days, but it's a positive start to the new year and for the moment, calm has been restored at bedtime!!