Getting a good night’s sleep is important for all of us, but it’s particularly important for our children, who use up so much energy during the day. Unfortunately, bedtime can be a challenge, particularly for parents of younger children who may be reluctant sleepers!
Ensuring that your child gets enough sleep is vital for their wellbeing, energy levels and health, and it can also ensure that they don’t become too grumpy as the day wears on. How do you go about making sure that your child gets the right amount of rest? Here is a short guide on how to help your little ones get a good night’s sleep.
Routine is vital
If there is one thing that can help you ensure that your children get to sleep, then it is routine. It doesn’t need to be an elaborate arrangement, but the most important aspect is to ensure that it is consistent. The best time to begin the routine is around half an hour before you want your children tucked into bed. Try to turn this period into “winding down” time, with a warm bath, talking about the day, or reading them their favourite story. Once you’ve gone through the routine a few times, it should become natural and instinctive for them.
You don’t want your children running around just before bed, but a little gentle playtime can be effective in helping them to settle down. Choose a game that is not too active or stimulating, and play in their bedroom for a little while before tucking them in. This is a good way for them to unwind and will send them to bed happy.
When your kids don’t want to sleep, you can be sure that they’ll let you know about it by coming up with all kinds of excuses. From endless questions to repeated requests for water or just asking to be tucked in repeatedly, they can be quite ingenious. However, it is important as a parent to draw the line, for the sake of their sleep as well as yours!
One way to counteract the excuses is to incorporate them into your regular nighttime routine, fetching them water, reading them a story, and kissing them goodnight. This will give them less opportunity to find reasons to get out of bed, and will help to reinforce the routine.
Create the perfect sleep space
As with adults, children are influenced in their sleep habits by the environment in which they sleep. Rooms with televisions and other electronic devices can be distracting, and there are other potential issues relating to light and bedding.
It is worth taking the time to check your child’s room to ensure that it is properly set up to help them get a good night’s sleep. If they are unhappy about sleeping in the dark, then you can leave their door open a little or add a night light. Some children sweat a lot during the night, particularly during the summer months, so look out for appropriate bedclothes such as moisture wicking sheets. Newer sheets can wick away moisture, helping them to be more comfortable – a key factor in ensuring a good night’s sleep.
The most important thing to remember about your bedtime routine is consistency. A routine is not really a routine if you do it differently every time. You don’t have to be too strict about the details of the routine, as long as you keep a reasonably consistent structure to the bedtime process. This will become second nature to your children, and it is likely that the routine will become essential for them to get a good night’s sleep.
There are other potentially useful activities that you can incorporate into your nighttime routine. For instance, a little yoga designed for children can be a great way to get them to stretch and relax after a busy day. Another idea is to adjust the tone of your voice throughout the routine. By speaking more softly, you will help them to relax, and they will also come to associate this tone with nighttime, helping to reinforce the routine itself.
It is easy to be too lax with your children and let them stay up as late as they want, but this isn’t the best thing for them. By establishing an effective sleep routine, you will not only be helping them to properly recharge their energy levels, but you will also be teaching them good sleep habits for life.