Your child's BEST NIGHTS SLEEP .... equals yours too!
You know as an adult, that crazy feeling of your day spinning around in your head when you FINALLY lay down at night after yet again another busy day? Well it's the same for children.... of course their little minds aren't thinking about what bills to still pay or how many jobs they have to do the following day, but they do have thoughts racing around about how their own day has been. For children who attend school, this can be a little more complicated as they can be stressed about a project they have to do, or a public speaking task they have the following day in class and sadly it can even be that they are worried about the bully that keeps picking on them at play time. We need to understand that children also have thoughts racing around in their heads at the end of the day and you can help them.
It is CRUCIAL for children to wind down, relax, let go of their day and talk about any problems or worries they may have. This is very important for children who do have serious issues going on at school that they may be too scared to talk about. It is your job as their parent or carer to make sure that you give your children the opportunity to chat with you and most importantly for them to know that it is OK for them to talk with you about anything at anytime. It may seem obvious to you, but often children need to hear it.
One thing I need to be clear on is 'you must get the more "serious stuff" out of the way before bed time'. Each afternoon once home from school, always offer your child a healthy snack as they will be hungry by this time. Either over afternoon tea time or once finished, just check in to ask about their day. Ask open ended questions (questions where the answer has to be more than a yes, no or one word answer). For example- What was the favourite part of your day? What was your least favourite part? Tell me about what classes you enjoyed today? What friends did you hang out with?
Winding down lets your child begin to relax and 'let go' of any worries they have. It helps them finish their day on a more positive feeling and helps the brain and muscles to release toxins and chemicals that have kept them on the go for the day.
One of the BEST parts of a night routine is providing your child with a better nights sleep, a much calmer and deeper sleep. The better the sleep, the more their body can re-charge for the following day.
After a good nights sleep, children will wake more refreshed and revitalised and be ready for a new day. Psychologically and emotionally, a good nights sleep will impact how the following day will play out for your child.
BEGINNING YOUR NIGHT ROUTINE, Try these steps first-
- Dinner and Baths are done.
- Brush teeth and last toilet stops.
- Lamps on. Main light MUST be off. If you don't have a lamp or a dimmer on your main light switch, you need one. This is one of the most important parts of a successful night routine to wind down a child's brain and body. When the lights are dimmed, this releases melatonin in the body which is the sleep hormone.
- The temperature of the room and making sure you don't over dress kids in sleep wear is also very important. An ideal sleeping temperature for children is between 18-22 degrees Celsius (65-70 Fahrenheit).
- Before reading or after the first book if you plan to read more, ask your child if there is anything they would like to chat about before continuing to read.
- Either sitting on their bed or on a mat or cushion on the floor, choose 1-3 books- depending on their length and how much energy you have left to be reading a few books.
- Another option to reading is puppets and singing songs. We mix it up with all three over the week. Puppets are quite cheap to buy online.
- You will need to spend around 10-30 minutes for this quiet, lights dimmed, reading/singing/puppets time. If this is new to you and the kids seem a little restless after ten minutes, then finish up and pack away the books. But for us, this is an important part of our day and one we all really enjoy as a family. It's a chance for us to get some quieter quality time with each other so we like about 30 minutes.
- Say your good-nights, lots of cuddles & I Love You's and then a peaceful Sweet Dreams.