JUST 5 MORE MINUTES! With COVID19 lockdown in full force, this is a phrase that I have been hearing all too often, EVERY night! Seriously, how many times do I need to say to my girls, ‘it’s time for bed’?
Lately, sleep, a good night’s rest, enough sleep...it seems we are hearing about this topic more and more. It is a hot topic because the medical and mental health fields have realised that sleep is very important to our health and mental wellbeing.
Studies are consistently showing us the benefits of a good night’s sleep: improved attention, learning, memory, mood...the list goes on and it is all good. We know all this, sleep is good. But how do we get our children to bed at a reasonable hour to make sure they are getting adequate sleep?
Children perform best with a routine. And getting children to bed and then sleep at an appropriate time is all about routine. It is important for your children to get into a regular and consistent sleep schedule. One thing that I have come to realise is that it’s not my children’s fault they are not getting to bed on time. It’s mine! I need to organise myself first. I can get caught up in cleaning up after dinner, starting a project or trying to get small chores finished around the house. I am always trying to fit in one more job. I forget about the time and next thing I know, it is past my children’s bedtime. So, my new trick that has helped me to make bedtime a priority is to actually make it an hour earlier in my own head. So, one of my children’s current bedtime is at 7:30 pm, and I now think of it as if it is at 6.30pm. When I look at the clock in the evening, at 6.30, I start getting myself ready by being aware of the time and finishing up finding a stopping point for anything I have started. Then, it’s time to start: device off and out of the room, change into pajamas, brush teeth and wash face. These things all take time. And usually more than I plan for.
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio
The sleepfoundation.org offers sleep tips for newborns- children aged 13. I love these types of suggestions because I feel I can use it like a menu and pick what will work in my house. I also like to pick a ‘wild card’ because sometimes it’s the thing you don’t think that will work that does! Once in bed, comes my favourite part of the routine: storytime. Many studies show that reading before going to bed can reduce stress and often helps you get a good night sleep. Storytime can be reading to your child or them reading their own book. It should always be a lovely experience, enjoying the magic of words on pages and not a ‘reading’ lesson.
It is important to keep a routine, especially at the moment, as children are not attending school. They will perform better during the day and hopefully sleep better at night. Oh, and hey, these suggestions work for adults too!