One of the most challenging things for parents is imposing a sensible bedtime for their children. This causes headache for many a mum and dad, especially when their kids want to stay up all night playing, running around or watching TV when they should be sleeping soundly already. For the adults bedtime is their chance to finally unwind and relax after possibly a trying day themselves, that is not always possible if bedtime creeps later and later into the night. You might feel your role as a parent has no downtime!
Of course for parents it's more than just putting the kids to sleep early for our own needs it's mostly about the child's health and the importance of a set routine – we know that staying up late at night can leave us tired and irritable the next day. School aged children need rest to be able to concentrate on their work the following day.
Sleeping early and having at least 9 hours of sleep (preferably more if the child is younger, check how much sleep your child needs for their age) is very important. As a parent you should find a way to encourage your children to settle as early as possible. In this article, I will share some tips that will help you hopefully get closer to achieving this goal.
1. Set a bedtime and try and stick to it – toddlers need to get at least 10 hours of sleep so they can be well rested with adequate energy for the challenges oft he next day! Therefore, you should make sure your children are in bed by 7PM so they can wake up feeling refreshed in the morning.
2. Prevent them from taking naps late in the afternoon – they can take a nap but be sure that it is earlier during the day not beyond 4 or 5pm in the afternoon so they will still sleep during their set bedtime. I have learnt this one from experience, it would be preferable to bring bedtime slightly forward as a compromise rather than allow a later nap, otherwise bedtime can become a few hours later than planned!
3. Avoid feeding the kids heavy meals before bedtime – do not let them eat foods that are too heavy a few hours before they sleep, a banana is said to help with sleep, so it might be worth adding one of those as a snack before bed.
4. Let them drink a warm glass of milk – drinking a glass of lukewarm milk will make them feel calm and sleepy. It’s good for their health too especially to make their bones stronger.
5. Stop them from doing any stimulating activities – do not let them play with your mobile phone or iPad before they sleep because doing these kinds of activities will make them feel more awake making it more difficult to sleep early. Gadgets are the main reasons why children stay up late at night, have a set time that they cannot use them from say 6pm so there is adequate time without their interference before sleep.
6. Read them bedtime stories – children love to hear stories and it makes them feel sleepy. So make it a habit to read some bedtime stories before they sleep at night. It’s a good bonding moment too, the perfect encouragement to coax them up to their bedroom rather than try and stay up longer!
7. Make sure they always feel comfortable – moving to another house for example can impact a child's mood, they make feel unsettled and it could affect their sleeping patterns. So if you are making a move, it is worth preparing them ahead. Ensuring you find a good neighbourhood where your kids can easily gain another set of friends. Ideally take them there in advance let them know what nice things there are to see and do. If you are after houses for sale in Melbourne or Auckland check those that are within a peaceful and friendly community. This way your kids can hopefully feel at home and at ease with their new surroundings.
8. Stick to a familiar routine - this way the body gets used to the cues for sleep, making it less of a battle and something that happens naturally. A soothing warm bath, the bedtime story already mentioned, whatever you do, be consistent, bedtime will become much easier to master if you put the groundwork in place for your children.