Our little one has always loved his sleep. Saying that, so has his big sister. Even more so now she’s a teenager and spends 80% of her day in bed given the chance. He loves a lay-in at the weekend and you practically need to crowbar him from the bed on a school day. But I’ve noticed since he started Year One, he is having difficulty switching off at the end of the day.
He leaves school exhausted. His little brain worn out from the day’s learning. Yet come bedtime, it’s still whirring away and his bedtime started getting later and later. Of course, we all know the importance of a good night’s sleep before school. So how do I get him to go to bed and wake up refreshed and ready to face the day? Here’s my top tips:
Talk About it
Given the age gap with my two, the 5 year old has grown up listening to me telling the teen not to stay up past a certain time. But we’ve always made sure we’ve spoken about why a good night’s sleep before school is important. Much like we do about eating healthily and getting regular exercise. School-aged children are old enough to be able to grasp this concept and they’ll be far less ratty and much more able to concentrate after a good night’s sleep.
Wear Them Out
Some children need only to run around in the playground to be worn out for the day. But if you have a little ball of energy at home, like I do, taking them for a walk, visiting the park, or letting them burn off steam in the garden, will help wear them out and prepare them for a good night’s sleep.
A bedtime routine isn’t just for babies and toddlers. Our 5 year old is in bed by 7.30pm on a school night. But he can read until 7.55pm when he goes to the loo and brushes his teeth. I’ve found that by starting dinner by 5pm and serving it by 6, he’s ready for his bath by 7 and has plenty of time after school to play, read his school book and start winding down before bed.
Create the Right Environment
No child is going to go to sleep if their bedroom is lit up like a Christmas tree. I can’t tell you how much I love blackout blinds. Something I started using when he was a baby in Spain and have carried on using ever since. When we got back to England in July, they were top of my list of things to buy for his new bedroom. And after a bit of searching, I found these ones here from VELUX.
A dark bedroom signals the fact it’s time for bed and keeps them asleep for longer. After all, you don’t want to get them off to sleep, only for them to wake up a few hours later. Use a night light by all means, we have a colour changing dinosaur lamp gracing our dino crazy boy’s bedside table at the moment. But do try to keep noise and light to a minimum – that goes for TV’s, tablets etc too. Make sure they’re switched off at least an hour before bed.
Although I do love a bedtime routine, sometimes it doesn’t go to plan. On Sunday we didn’t even get home until 9pm, so it threw ours off by over an hour. But by starting our routine that bit later, but sticking to our routine all the same, it made bedtime less fraught. The little one was none the wiser as to what time it was. He didn’t know he was late to bed, it was business as usual as far as he was concerned and that’s all you can ask for. If they know they’re late to bed, they’re less likely to go with the flow and more likely to give you a hard time. So whether you’re late home, or you burn the dinner and have to make something else, like I frequently do, just adjust your routine accordingly and you’ll still see the benefits.
Do you have any other tips for getting school-aged children to bed on time?