Ah, bedtime. Does the word conjure images of a peaceful, quiet house where two adults can actually do whatever their hearts desire? Most parents will agree that bedtime is a shining beacon after a hard-fought journey. But you also know that journey isn't over until the last routine of the day: preparing for bedtime. Getting your toddler ready for bed can be a nightly battle full of power struggles, whining and tears. Transitional songs can take the frustration out of the routine and get your toddler ready to listen to a bedtime story before hitting the hay.
The Need for Transitions
Toddlers can take it pretty hard when they're engrossed in an activity and are asked to move on to another task -- think full-body throw down, kicking and screaming. Although baffling to parents, this transitional time behavior is actually quite normal (sigh of relief). Toddlers thrive on consistent, predictable schedules because they feel a sense of control and comfort. Rhymes, songs, chants and dances ease transition time woes by providing a fun distraction and teaching your toddler what's coming next.
How to Make Transitions Smooth
When it's time to make a transition, prepare your toddler ahead of time. If he's playing with his blocks, tell him in five minutes it will be time to get his pajamas on, brush his teeth and read a story with you. Set a timer or give reminders every minute. Give your toddler control of the situation by giving choices: Do you want to brush your teeth first or put on your pajamas? Never ask a question where "No" is an option, such as "Are you ready to brush your teeth?" He most surely is not!
Transition to Story Time
Once your tot's jammies are on and her teeth are brushed, it's time to transition to story time. Focus your toddler's attention on the stories to come with a fun or silly song or chant. March from the bathroom to her bedroom while repeating a chant: It's time for a story, it's time for a book! Sing to the tune of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat": "Books, books, books are great, I can't wait to read! I will listen with my ears, on this we have agreed."
Songs that Teach
Since toddlers see things concretely, songs that help them make sense of the world are both helpful and enjoyable. Make up your own lyrics or use familiar tunes to sing simple songs about the bedtime routine. Sing to the tune of "The Farmer in the Dell": "It's time to go to bed, it's time to go to bed. First we brush and then we read, it's time to go to bed." Change the lyrics of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" to: "Mommy reads my favorite book, I can't wait to take a look. Books are funny, books are nice, Mommy reads every night. Mommy reads my favorite book, I can't wait to take a look."