Classic bedtime stories bring to mind the magic hour where kids drift peacefully off to slumber tucked beneath soft, warm blankets. Adoring parents kiss sweet foreheads, adjust pillows and watch over. If just for a moment, all involved are recalling a day filled with giggling fort play. Does this sound like your house? The truth is that the moments preceding sleep often prove elusive to such peace. However, the same Fort Magic fort building kit that fills the day with adventure offers sweet dreams at night. Bedtime rituals aid serene slumber. Whether simple or involving a whole magical hour, nights grow more restful and build family memories in their presence. Incorporating forts into the routine makes it all the more fun.
A bedtime fort takes on any shape or designdesign your child or family desires. Imagining can happen in the living room, bedroom, on the bed, the porch or even outdoors. Your family decides where it is put up and how it will be used. Yes, bedtime routines take on personal characteristics of each family. And, they should. This day-to-night transition does not involve keeping up with the friend who goes all out when you collapse after a long day of parenting. The goal? Settle both parent and child for quality rest and grab a few naturally-occurring memories while doing so.
To create a bedtime routine that your family will come to anticipate, check out the A’s to Zzzz’s of bedtime with kids and forts below. Try a few and adjust as needed to find your fit.
Allow the choice of whether to sleep in the fort or use it only for pre-bedtime activities. While some kids love the idea of sleeping in the design, others may express hesitation.
Breathing exercises in the spa atmosphere of a fort help relax the body for sleep. Be careful not to drift off yourself!
Childhood rituals create meaning in our lives. Think back to your bedtime routines as a child and pass them on to your kids.
Dress the part. Changing into cozy pajamas transition kids mentally from a fort created for active play to one meant for quiet activity or sleep.
Establish limits to make bedtime predictable for kids and the fort a sleep aid, not a distraction.
Favorite stuffed animals or other transitional objects joining a fort sleepover give children security in drifting off without their parents right by their side.
Guzzle a warm beverage like milk, cocoa or a sleepy time tea at a pre-bed tea party. The tryptophan in milk promotes sleep.
Healthy munchies with protein before bed help kids refuel in the night. Consider peanut butter with apples or Greek yogurt with granola.
“I love you” is often expressed in action throughout the day. Use bedtime in the privacy of a fort to express verbally why you love each other.
Journal the day’s adventures together. One scribe and two authors, or parent and child each taking a page, cozying up in the fort to record memories brings you close.
Keep it up. The benefits of routines do not appear immediately or perfectly. Remain consistent.
Lullabies calm babies well into their later years. Singing quietly in the fort or pulling in the iPod for soothing music induces slumber.
Massage relieves stress and relaxes bodies. Gently stroking a young child’s back or rubbing aching legs from the day’s activities turns your fort into a sleep-inducing spa.
Night watches reveal stars, constellations and moon phases which offer quiet study before dozing off. A fort placed outdoors or near a window permits such viewing.
Overnight fort adventures with friends add excitement and break up the monotony.
Prayer or expressions of gratitude in the solitude of a fort quiet young minds with pleasant thoughts and the release of worries.
Quiet created by dimmed lights, twinkle lights strung in the fort or a simple flashlight brings bodies and brains to a restful state.
Reading engages the imagination for dreaming. Keep plenty of books near the fort. Doing this together or allowing your child to hide away in the fort to read before bed boosts slumber.
Snuggle. Isn’t this the coziest way to use a fort and induce sleep?
Tell stories – imagined or real. Children easily settle in for stories about themselves or to create tag team tales together.
Unplug all electronics well before bed. Screens used prior to slumber interfere with sleep rhythms. Make your bedtime fort a screen-free zone.
Value others. Turn the fort into a haven for your child to write encouraging notes or draw pictures for friends and family. Again, quieted activity and positive thoughts before bed encourages sleep.
Wind down early enough. Staying up too late or moving directly from full-on activity to rest frustrates sleep. A fort used for a transitional activity such as coloring, reading or listening to music aids slumber.
Xamine (examine) the day together under the protection of the fort. Talk of the day’s adventures, express hurts and frustrations and undo the day.
Yoga offers another way to relax the body for slumber. The fort offers just enough space for these gentle stretches.
Zzzz. Enough said.
How do you use fort building to prepare your kids for bed? Do you have other effective bedtime rituals that help kids to unwind and get to sleep? And what are your kids’ favorite classic bedtime stories? Share your ideas below!
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