Getting your children to sleep and to stay asleep is quite often the bane of parenthood. I was re-watching an old Michael McIntyre comedy show last night where he jokes about putting his children to bed and the battle that ensues, such as having to remind them exactly how to sleep each evening as if they’ve forgotten, by firmly repeating ‘close your eyes, go to sleep’ over and over. I couldn’t help but relate, and of course laugh out loud and glance knowingly at my husband Ben who now regularly tackles the bedtime battle.
Is that a mum thing? Are kids instinctively more difficult for mums? If I try to put my two children to bed it is like a comedy sketch with me falling asleep exhausted in the bed with the children bouncing all over me! If I say ‘go to bed’ it’s often ignored and they sneak out of their rooms. If Ben puts them to bed, however, they 99% of the time stay put. If we hear them climb out of bed and a couple of creaky footsteps, Ben will shout ‘back to bed’ and those footsteps will immediately patter back to bed!
Though my children seem to be of the variety to mess around at bedtime and never ever say they are tired and want to go to bed (can I trade them in for these dream children?), we have still found a few tactics to pretty much (mostly) guarantee they are in bed on time and stay there until the next morning. Luckily, once they are asleep they usually sleep through and don’t trouble us through the night now they are five and three.
I was going to just have just one tip saying ‘let your husband put them to bed’, but all joking aside, here are 10 serious tips to help your child get a better night’s sleep:
Provide a quality mattress
There’s nothing worse than sleeping on an old or uncomfortable mattress, so make sure they have a comfortable mattress and a sturdy bed frame. There’s no need to spend a fortune, but a good mid-range mattress (try the top mattress deals at Groupon) should last several years and provide a comfortable night’s rest.
Keep fit after school
Encourage physical activity after school instead of screen time. This is much easier in the summer months when children can play in the garden or park. Not only will it give them so beneficial exercise, but it will help them to sleep better.
Warn them it’s nearly bedtime
Don’t spring bedtime on them all of a sudden when they are playing happily. Instead tell them it’s bedtime in ten minutes so to finish up playing their game. Hopefully this will lead to less resistance to go to bed.
Have a consistent routine
Try to keep a consistent routine of bath, teeth, book, sleep or similar. This should be around 20-30 minutes long, not too rushed and not too dragged out.
Keep the times the same
Along with the routine activities, have a set routine with the timings too. Keep bedtime the same every evening and also wake up time. This might need to be individualised to your child as they just might not be tired enough for a 6.30pm bedtime. If this is the case try a 7.30pm bedtime instead. Find what works for your child and stick to this time. Hopefully their body clock will stick to it too!
Use blackout blinds
Use blackout blinds or curtains to keep the room darkened at bedtime to differentiate between night and day, especially in the summer months. If they need a light try to use a dim nightlight or leave the door open a fraction with the hall light on.
Read a bedtime story
Reading the kids a bedtime story nearly sends me to sleep every night in their cosy beds and dim lit bedrooms! Let them pick a story for you to read (this helps encourage mine into bed), snuggle up and read it together.
Minimise screen time
We know it as adults and need to do the same for our children. Screens and the blue light emitted stimulate the brain and make drifting off more difficult. Reduce screen time before bed and certainly don’t let them take screens to bed.
Hopefully these tips will help your children to go to bed on time and sleep soundly until the morning.