Help your child sleep like a baby.

Activities to Wear Out Children So They Will Sleep

by Kelly Sundstrom

As a parent, you know how exhausting it can feel to have a child who never seems to run out of energy. If your child does not get enough exercise or mental stimulation, it can backfire by causing her to have excess energy built up. This can cause her to not sleep easily at night which can leave her tugging at your arm in the night while you struggle to get some shut eye.

1. Dance the Energy Off

Nothing burns off excess kid energy like dancing. Instead of trying to keep things calm and serene before bedtime, try having an evening dance party to dance the energy off. Put on some music that makes you feel like getting jiggy with it, and dance around with your toddlers and preschoolers for 20 to 30 minutes before bed. Having a nightly dance party can also give parents who work a chance to bond and connect with their children before bedtime.

2. Family Game Night

Sometimes children need to burn off excess mental energy, especially children who seem precocious or seem to worry or daydream a lot. This excess mental energy can cause many children to stay up because they cannot stop thinking. Try playing a board game with your children before bed time that will stimulate their minds now so that they can sleep better later. Pick out a board game that is age-appropriate for your child such as Candyland or Chutes and Ladders. These games require thinking as well as action. Try to avoid all-action board games like Hungry, Hungry Hippos, which do not really require mental energy to play.

3. Go To the Park

If your child struggles to sleep during the middle of the day for nap time, try taking her to the park right about an hour before her scheduled nap. All of that running around and playing will exhaust her, making it much easier for her to rest once she gets home. You could even organize a play group with other mommies specifically as a pre-nap play time. Just make sure to keep her awake enough to get home, or you will have to wake her up in the car.

4. Active Crafts

If you have a crafty child, put together an active craft for her to do right before nap time or bed time. An active craft is one that requires more physical effort than a simple cut and paste or drawing craft. For example, make handmade play dough with your child that requires stirring, kneading and mixing; then allow her to sculpt with the play dough for 20 to 30 minutes before it is time for her to sleep.

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