If you’ve had a few nights of disturbed sleep, you might be feeling fatigued and grumpy. But when your kids struggle to get through the night soundly you can end up fatigued and grumpy about their behaviour! Kids don’t cope well if they have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. It happens to most of us at one time or another. But when it goes on for a while, you might be wondering what more you can do to help them.
There are lots of reasons why kids struggle to settle at bedtime, or why they might be waking in the night. It’s rare that there is any kind of medical problem involved, but if you have concerns speak to your doctor about it. If you’re getting tired and frustrated too, you might choose to ask your parents to take them for the night so you can get some rest. Approaching this difficult situation well rested will be helpful. Here are some other ideas to help you ease the sleepless nights, and enjoy quality sleep every time:
The time your child eats may have an effect on how well they settle at bedtime. Try to finish the meal two hours before you expect them to be tucked in. That way, they have had a chance to settle their tummies and won’t feel an urge for the toilet as soon as you kiss them good night. Try to avoid any meals or desserts that are high in sugar. This can be hard to do if they’ve just come back from a children’s birthday party! Water is the best drink at dinner time, and chocolate should be avoided altogether. Chocolate and other sweets can act as a stimulant, making it difficult for your child to settle down. Mealtime battles can also spill over to the bedtime routine. It could be worth delaying those efforts to introduce more vegetables for a couple of nights!
The time after dinner is the perfect opportunity to play. In the summertime, they may be running around in the garden. Try to avoid tablets, computers and mobile phones this close to bedtime. It is thought the blueish light from the screens could delay the brain’s ability to drift off to sleep. Some quiet TV snuggled up with you could be a nice way to calm things down. Why not read a couple of books together?
It might be best to avoid any more drinks after dinner. Getting up for the toilet is one of the reasons children commonly struggle to get enough sleep. In the last thirty minutes before bath time, why not spend some time together drawing or painting? Perhaps you can take a nice walk around the block?
Bath time should be a part of your child’s bedtime routine. It can also help adults settle ready for some quality sleep. The temperature of the water is known to relax the body and mind. And the sudden change from being in the warm water to coming out can help prepare the body and mind to sleep. A little play time can make this important event fun. When your child is ready to come out of the bath, try to keep the conversation limited and spoken in a quiet tone. Small children love having an extended cuddle time when they’re getting dried and dressed for bed. Warm fluffy towels and a big hug from Mummy can make this time of the day feel extra comforting and relaxed. Brush the teeth together, and pop to the loo. Finally, it’s time to hop up into bed.
Your child’s bedroom should be dark and cool. The bed should be comfortable but also fun for children. You can find some examples of kids Cabin beds from Cuckooland online that may inspire you. Mattresses should be supportive for your child’s frame and allow them to stay cool all night. Pick bedding that features their favourite TV characters. These can all help your child feel secure and safe in his room.
A night light may offer some comfort but choose one wisely. Shadows can often be the source of monsters for imaginative children. Something like a Gro Clock offers adequate light as well as a reminder that it’s not yet time to get out of bed. A soft rug on the floor provides a lovely play area, and soft toys help your child feel they’re in good company.
Two or three stories at bedtime, including one of their all-time favourites, is a great way to round off the day. Speak in a soft tone. The final story may end up sounding like a monotone, but you should notice your child yawning, laying back, and rubbing their eyes by this point. Most children’s stories are great fun at any time of the day. Some scarier or more dramatic stories may be best left until tomorrow!
Cuddle up to your child when you’re reading a story. Share the experience, and let your child point out things on the page. You might ask one or two questions along the way too. This is quality time for the two of you to share. It’s comforting and supports the bonding process with your child.
At the end of the story, close the book and put it away. Have a long cuddle with your little one and kiss their forehead. Tell them how much you love them and wish them sweet dreams. Finally say 'night night' and leave the room. Doing the same things every night supports their expectations. They’ll know what will happen and what is expected of them. Hopefully, they’ll soon roll over and drift off to sleep for the whole night.
It may take a few nights of doing the same routine every time for your child to realise that ‘night night’ means it’s time to fall asleep. There are many techniques for putting your child back to bed if the repeatedly leave the room after bedtime. It could be worth sticking with one for several nights before trying something different. Patience on your part is essential, and you may need to clear your diary for the evening! But it will be worth it in the end for all the family to enjoy some quality sleep.
This post has been contributed on behalf of prettysinglemom.com