“I want We’re Going on a Bear Hunt! ” was a nightly request, nay, demand for my parents growing up. That and The Tiger Who Came to Tea. I always loved that snippet of time with my mum or dad in the quiet and calm of the evening, being read one of my favourite bedtime stories (often the same one over and over again, much to my parents' dismay!). But they’re my fondest memories.
I wanted the same for my children. In our busy life filled with work, household chores and being sucked into screens, reading children's bedtime stories to our daughter is an evening ritual I prioritise and cherish. Our nightly reading time takes centre stage for many reasons, but mainly because it is our special time together, with no interruptions, no work, no screens. Just the magic of being immersed in a good story.
Initially our motivation to read bedtime stories to our pint-sized (mostly sleeping) baby - and later, squirmy 10-month-old - was centred around getting her to sleep. But as we continue on a nightly basis and while it’s still about the sleep, it’s become about building her vocabulary and getting her curious about the world she’ll grow up in.
letting go of insecurities when reading bedtime stories
Now I’ve never been a great reader; I stutter and stumble and quite often have to re-read the last sentence! But the main thing I learned over the years of reading to kids as a nursery nurse, a doting auntie and now a mother is this – kids don’t care if you’re not good at reading, especially when you’re doing all the silly voices. The one thing they love more than their iPad or favourite toy is your attention so don’t be discouraged if you’re not the best at reading – they really don’t mind!
Top tip: If you start young, by the time they can understand you’ll be an expert at even the hardest Dr. Seuss books!
Although my daughter is only 10 months old, probably has no idea what I’m saying and is 100% more interested in eating the book, I know something clicks because for once she is sitting still and instantly calmer. I believe she loves bedtime stories so we try to read them every night. It’s always been the routine and stories help her settle down to sleep, and her sleeping is something I like her to do so we can have a bit of us time in the evening.
getting creative with children's bedtime stories
Bedtime stories for kids will grow as they do - imagine reading Spot the Dog to a 10 year old! What I’ve found with my niece anyway is that she wanted me to MAKE UP stories! Now I’ll be the first to admit that my childish imagination isn’t what it used to be and trying to make up something fun and exciting on the spot was hard!
It was this night we came up with the best bedtime story game ever, a bit like the fortunately, unfortunately game. We took it in turns to tell pieces of a story and it always ended in the weirdest way and it was such a fun thing to do together (it even made my niece excited for bedtime!). Imagine that – no arguing about getting kids to bed - it’s every adult's dream, right!
the benefits of bath, book, bed
You’ve probably heard this a million times but it truly works! Now I don’t know about you but bedtimes can be a bit manic in our house. The rush to get everybody fed, bathed, in pyjamas and in bed all by my strict 7pm bedtime can be difficult and a bit rushed.
Reading a couple of bedtime stories helps calm the place down and reduce our heart rates from the battle out of the bath and the wrestling of little limbs into pyjamas! I’ve found it really helps me relax too – it’s a time where I forget all of my stresses of the day and I’m only focused on my daughter and she’s only focused on me; it’s really something special.
So whether you’re an avid reader or have never read a book in your life, just know that reading to your bump, baby, toddler and big kids has lasting effects and you won’t regret it, ever – I can promise you that!