Unfortunately, however, life isn't always that smooth and some children quickly adapt and take to a new routine while others don't seem to be able to take to it and cause havoc for the parents, not matter how hard they try to follow a professional's advice.
You see, how to be a good parent isn't set in stone and you certainly can't learn it out of a book. It's entirely about learning as you go along - each child is different, each family's circumstances are different and there are multiple factors to take into consideration when you are raising your own child and deciding what steps to take.
Which is why, I want you to forget all the usual ideas and tips on bedtime and work with me as we create a routine that is right for your child.
We've tried the usual bed time routine patterns and failed spectacularly, which is why we're now trying to think outside the box a little bit more so that his lack of sleep doesn't have a negative impact on his education.
Generally, once he's asleep, he's asleep. It's getting to that point in the first place that's problematic.
Designing the routine ~ Step one.
The first step I'm taking is considering what my son likes and responds to well.
It's all fine and well being told that you should give a bath, then bed and story - but if you've got a child who seems to spring into action when they have a bath, or get's very animated at story time, then of course these should be avoided within the hour or so that you're trying to settle your child down.
So, compile a list of things that you have to do in the evening, without fail:
Walk the dog*
Then compile a list of things that will relax your child and/or that your child enjoys to do:
Your lists may be longer or shorter, similar or completely different. It doesn't matter about that, what's important is that you recognise your own child and your home life.
Designing the routine ~ Step two.
Next, you should go through the lists and compile one list which is ordered by how stimulating they are to your child, most relaxing should be at the bottom of the list. You will, need to fiddle about a little, however, as these should be in an order that you actually can stick to and is practical - don't make your life impossible, otherwise no routine will work:
Walk the dog
*Pyjamas come on after bath. For us, bath time is more stimulating than most of the other activities, however it's not realistic that we do that first because of the chance of getting messy with eating, playing and walking the dog.
Bath time is quite stimulating for us because I take the chance to play, talk and have fun away from distractions such as TV. So, I think we'll have to have tone down fun in the tub, just a little.
Designing the routine ~ Step three.
Now you have the basic routine in front of you, it is a good idea to consider how you can make these activities run smoothly and efficiently. Homework and reading, for a child that doesn't want to complete these tasks, can often take a very long time when they don't have to. It can cause stress that would be best avoided both parties. Similarly, activities such as seeing Dad when he gets home from work could be cut short because of the tasks that take longer, when ideally, your child would be happier and more settled if they were allowed to spend longer on the "fun" bits. (They're only kids once!)
Ideas for making things run smoothly? Hmm...
Get the trickiest bits out of the way. If your child has homework to do, get a snack and a drink ready as soon as they walk through the door and sit down in the usual spot you use, to complete the homework while they have a drink and a biscuit.
Set up a system of reward charts. I say charts but you could use marbles in a jar, charts, stickers and any other ideas that you like. It's good to have a few reward systems going on - some long term, short term and immediate ones. Marbles in a jar for each piece of homework they complete, for example, is a good idea as they're likely to keep on getting homework and having a big reward for each one can prove expensive. So a "Homework Marble Jar" or a "Reading Marble Jar" where they are rewarded for completing their homework separately and over a longer period of time, may prove more efficient.
Try not to raise your voice, the more stressed out you get, the more agitated and disruptive they'll behave. Make it fun where you can, but ultimately, just try to get through it as quickly as possible.
Stick to your guns - no playing until the homework's done - less playtime the longer it takes to get through - homework will have to be redone, however, if they rush and don't put a real effort it.
Putting the routine into practice.
This step is the part you've been waiting for - and not entirely dissimilar to step 3 of designing the routine: It's necessary to think about how you'll cope with any defensive attitudes about starting the new routine and how you'll reward your children for sticking with it. How you do this is entirely up to you.
It's a good idea to consider using visual aids if you have a child with Autism, Special Needs, ADHD or even younger children as the picture symbols will make things a lot, lot clearer.
You can find more info on creating a visual schedule for the evening within the site and visual sections.
For you, you may choose to have everything written down for your own sake and explain to your child a few times. Again, this is entirely up to you, just be sure to take into consideration your child and their own, personal needs.