Sleep. We all want it, yet it’s one of the most elusive parts of parenting. And with statistics linking good quality and quantity of sleep with lower risk of learning difficulties, being overweight, and even developing diabetes - it’s no wonder that we as parents often spend so much time trying to perfect the art of sleep.
Although there are no magic tricks or ways to get your children to sleep, one thing almost every parent will agree on is the need for a good night time routine. It is a key contributor to the quality and quantity of sleep (and not just for children).
Although easier said than done, this is a good way to set the tone of your evening. Some parents even go to lengths of choosing (or rather hiding) specific toys to ensure a calm and quiet final couple of hours before bed. This could include lots of books and battery-free toys such as puzzles and lego. If the playroom is too stimulating, you can allow your child to play quietly in their room while you use the baby monitor to keep an eye on them.
Putting toys away
Once the final play session of the day is over, allow your children to get involved in putting toys away. This gives them another signal that the day has come to an end and that bed time is approaching. And since young children have a mind and an agenda of their own, if there is resistance, make putting the toys away into a game (sort by colour, shape, size, who can put away the fastest - these are just some ideas to get you started).
Even as adults, a bath is associated with relaxation and calm. For young children this can be a particularly good opportunity for further winding down. Singing evening songs (twinkle twinkle, for example), or even reading a short board book is also worth incorporating if bath time takes a more boisterous turn.
Reading a story to your little one can captivate their imagination and take them in to a world of wonder. It’s a great chance to choose a comfortable corner and snuggle up right before lights out. If your child is older they can even choose the book and if not, start with something in rhyme which acts almost like a soothing song.
Lights out, monitor on
Once the time has come to turn the lights off, turn on your baby monitor to ensure your child is safe and sound. If your child is older, you could even extend reading time or listening to music time after you’ve left the room and agree on a time for them to turn the lights off themselves - another opportunity to use the baby monitor to make sure they’re keeping their part of the deal!
The key to any successful routine is repetition. With a bit of effort and an undisturbed bedtime, your evening routine should be nothing if not calm, to help your child get off to sleep in a positive and happy way.