30 DAYS of AWESOME PARENTING
(read about the adventure here)
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Tip 17: Do your kids have problems with sleeping?
Run through this checklist.
Do your kids have problems with sleeping? Not being able to get the kids to go to sleep, or having your sleep interrupted each night, is one sure way for us to become frustrated, grumpy, and bent out of shape. I’m sure you, like me, aren’t particularly fond of losing sleep either. My wicked witch side comes out, and if ever I’m going to spew poison, you can be almost guaranteed that a lack of sleep will be the precursor. Luckily for me (and for them!), all three of my kids arrived with the ‘sleep-in’ gene so being sleep deprived is a rare occurrence but I’ve experienced it enough to feel the pain.
But if you have ever had a sleep battle, then it might be time to have a look at these common sleep-disruptors and make some changes if necessary.
First things first, the sleep environment. Try to look at the space from a child’s point of view.
- Take a look at the bedroom space. Is it just-right, warm, hot, or too cold?
- What is the bedroom used for? Sleep only, sleep and play, or is it also used as a time-out space? Does the child feel emotionally safe in the space at night? Do they sleep alone, or with a sibling?
- What is the proximity of the room to the parent’s bedroom?
- Is the room tidy, or cluttered? How is the room set up or styled?
- What is on the walls of the room? Posters, artwork, designs? Does anything hang from the ceiling?
- Are there ‘letters’ or ‘numbers’ in the space? Does this draw the eye?
- In general, does it feel conducive to being a restful area, or too busy?
- What colour is the room painted? Is the colour palette in the pale blue/pale green/white shades? Pastels or brights?
- What is the bedding like? Plain or printed? Commercial designs? Are there any themes on the bedding that might influence (or disrupt) sleep- for instance, the Hulk, Spiderman, or life-size Dora? (too scary?, too playful?)
- Where is the light source? Does the light give the child reassurance or create frightening shadows in the room? Can this be modified or moved if necessary?
- What is the bed itself like? Too soft? Too hard? Just right? Perfect size and height? Too high? Too low? Can this be modified?
- What else occupies the room? Toys? Open wardrobes? Clothes on view? Is it possible to reduce clutter or hide it from view?
Sleep rhythm. How is the child encouraged and supported during the sleep preparation?
- What kind of light is on in the lead-up to bedtime? (too bright? white or warm?) Does the light create ‘warmth’ in the space? Is there only an overhead light or are you able to soften and prepare a sleepy mood with dimmers, lamps, or (electric) candles?
- In what does the child sleep? Is the material gentle or non-irritating on their skin? Do they feel comfortable, not too hot or cold?
- Does the child watch tv, play with the ipad or iphone, or use the computer in the hour prior to bedtime? (My tip: We designate screen-time days during our week- Friday nights, and weekends are ok. Nothing on school days. We also have a rule that all screen time activity, including games on the ipad, stops by 5pm, unless it is a special event such as a family movie night, or we are visiting.)
- How does the order of your evening unfold? Is there consistency and flow? Does it consciously ‘wind down’ eg; gregarious dinner, quiet play, hushed bathtimes, calm story times, tranquil lullabies?
- How is the mood of the parent or carer? Busy and rushed, or mindful and even-tempered? (This state is often a learned skill!) Does the adult act as the eye of the storm, or whirl with the winds?
- What time do they go to sleep? For young children, the earlier the better. (7pm is my favourite middle-of-the-road time that seems to work for most children up to about age 6 or 7.) Being overtired can prevent children from entering sleep peacefully.
- Is the bed inviting? Not too cold (use flannel sheets in winter) or hot? Fresh, cared for?
- Is the room tidy? Have the toys been packed away? Is the space calm to the eye?
- Does the child feel secure knowing the parent will be nearby (in lounge, in office) when they sleep?
- How does the parent leave the child? What is the evening ritual?
This is just a quick overview of very practical questions to ask. It is amazing how something so small can make a huge difference, once we know what the problem or difficulty is. But if you want more support with regards to ‘sleep preparation’ then you might like my book.
Today I want you to reflect upon your children’s sleep routines and rhythms. Is there anything you might like to do, or areas to streamline? If there is, go ahead. If not, AWESOME!
Take action as necessary to help support your child to engage in sleep. Rearrange their rooms, alter their bedtime, take stock of your mood… do what you deem important for your family.
Commit to the task by writing it down here in the comments below, or in your 30 days of AWESOME journal.
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