Kids are endless bundles of energy. So, getting them into bed after a busy day of school or playdates can test even the most Zen-like of parents. Establishing a regular bedtime routine and a calming environment for them to sleep in can make a world of difference. Not only can it work wonders for your child’s well-being and help them get a good night’s sleep, it’ll also leave mum and dad less frazzled by the time they turn out the light.
Why sleep is so important
Getting less than 8 hours’ shut-eye leaves most of us feeling drained and reaching for the coffee pot. And for kids, sleep is even more important. Experts recommend that boys and girls between the ages of 5 and 12 get 10-11 hours of sleep. After all, sleep has a whole range of benefits. It helps the brain sort and store information, solve problems, and boosts our immune system. Various studies have also shown that regular bedtime routines can help children with behaviour issues in school and at home. So, how can you, as parents, ease those bedtime battles and give your child sweet dreams?
Cast your mind back to when you were a child. Did your mum or dad always make you have a bath, brush your teeth and put on your jim-jams, in the same order? If the answer’s yes, your parents probably knew the secret of a good bedtime routine.
Most experts agree that consistent bedtime rituals are essential in helping your child wind down before sleep. A 20-30 minute bedtime routine is ideal, although anything shorter can still be effective. The most important thing is to stick to the same time each day. Your child’s body clock will quickly adjust so they feel sleepier by the time they head for a night’s rest.
Reading a bedtime story can help prepare their body for an evening slumber. Often children enjoy hearing a favourite story again and again, and many of the cleverest stories for younger children end with the central character tucked up in bed and drifting off to dreamland. Some parents also swear by playing soft, soothing music to help their kids get a good night’s sleep.
Another advantage to bedtime routines is that you can continue them when you are away on holiday. If your child has a feeling of routine and normality it’s much easier for them to adapt to new surroundings. So, before you know it they’ll be sound asleep and dreaming about all the sandcastles they’ve been building.
A great bed will treat your child to comfy sleep for years. There are all sorts of kids’ beds available, from bunk beds and high sleepers to cabin beds and mid sleepers. So, have a think about what your child might prefer before buying one for their room.
Don’t forget the basics either. Your little boy or girl’s mattress should be supportive as they grow, and their pillow the right size. Opt for duvets and sheets that are comfy and soft against the skin, to help them doze off. Another great piece of children’s bedroom furniture is a small reading light. Place one beside their bed so you can read them a story, or help them thumb through their favourite book just before bed.
Keep gadgets out of sight
Removing any screens or gadgets from your kids’ sleeping space should be a no-brainer. The light emitted from TV and computer screens sends signals to the brain to stay awake, which only adds to bedtime chaos and can impact on physical health and well-being – a recent study has shown that children who have a TV in their bedroom at the age of 7 are more likely to become overweight.1 Make sure your child isn’t still watching their favourite Disney show or playing on their phone less than 30 mins before they sleep. Banishing electronics from the bedroom altogether will make your little ones fall asleep faster and keep their (and your) stress levels at bay.
Tidy room, tidy mind
Most adults find it impossible to relax if their room is strewn with crumpled clothes and papers, and children’s brains work in the same way. Keep teddies, toys and tech off your kids’ floor if you want to create a relaxed sleeping environment. Make tidying up a game, and you can help them to create great habits for life. And investing in plenty of storage with a place for everything makes it easier to tidy up. A lot of children’s furniture now comes with handy drawers and shelving built in – giving you extra space to store all their video games, action figures or cute princess outfits.
Get in the zone
Feel like you’re fighting a losing battle trying to keep their bedroom neat and tidy? If it always looks like a mini explosion has scattered things across your child’s bedroom floor, consider switching your strategy and simply containing the mess. Divide the space into different zones and colour schemes, for different activities. It will create the illusion of order and create separate spaces for toys, books and sleeping. This will also make the room feel less chaotic, so it’s easier for your little mess-makers to get a great night’s rest.
Kids are happier and healthier when they sleep well. So, don’t skip on the bedtime essentials – make sure your child has everything then need for a calm and peaceful slumber. Opt for children’s furniture that’s comfy and keeps miscellaneous toys out of sight, and you’ll be boosting your child’s chances of a blissful night’s sleep.