I distinctly remember the early years with Caitlin and Ieuan where the primary challenge was to get them to sleep through the night.
Then there was the move from cot to a junior bed and, in Ieuan’s case, the occasional tumble onto the floor in the small hours.
We stuck to a regular schedule of naps according to our favourite childcare tome, The Baby Whisperer and it worked well. Grumping, stropping and any form of bad behaviour, we quickly learned was a reflection of how much sleep the kids had had – or not.
It’s funny, but as our children get older, we tend to forget that they still need their sleep and that the effects of sleep deprivation can be a nightmare to deal with (if you’ll pardon the pun).
How many hours of sleep kids require varies according to which expert you consult but, in general, the guidelines are as follows:-
So, if you have a seven-year-old, who wakes at 7 am, they should ideally be in bed between 7 pm and 9 pm.
Of course, if you work then putting your child to be at 7 pm might be totally impractical. If you don’t get in till gone 6 pm, you’d have to be Wonder Woman to cook tea, supervise a nightly bath and read a story in an hour.
It is really important, I think, to have some time together as a family to wind down at the end of the day.
Many of us parents are stressed already without the added pressure of getting the kids into bed before the One Show credits have finished.
And of course, every child is different. Already Caitlin is showing signs of being like her dad who happily exists on around 5-6 hours sleep. Ieuan is like me, needing the full 8 or even 9 hours sleep.
But when you have tweens, 10 – 11 is still the recommendation, and how many of our kids are getting that?
It’s worth considering whether your children’s bedrooms are conducive to sleep and whether you have a bed with a decent mattress like you’ll find at Casper, the better sleep company
Casper’s award-winning hybrid foam mattresses offer the perfect level of support for every body type. No matter what position you sleep in, the level of softness you prefer or the temperature you snooze best at, Casper mattresses are designed to offer maximum comfort.
If comfort isn’t an issue, make sure that curtains and blinds prevent early morning sunlight from streaming through resulting in a dawn wake-up call. Black-out linings are easy enough to fit most standard size curtains.
If your kids are like mine, removing them from their laptops, tablets and phones can be a real battle at the end of the day.
We use Ourpact software which allows us to schedule screen time and to manually over-ride the settings should things like homework show no signs of getting done.
It’s a personal choice for parents, of course, but we won’t be letting Caitlin and Ieuan have TVs, PCs or gaming consoles in their bedrooms.
It’s only too easy to wait for the sound of a parent’s retreating footsteps and then whip out of bed to switch everything back on!
We do allow them plenty of reading time with a good, old-fashioned book though and they still have a glass of milk before bed.
Caitlin and Ieuan are generally in bed around 8 pm and then read for half an hour. They stay up later at weekends and holidays, but as school approaches, we try to return to the usual schedule so that the first day back at school won’t be a terrible shock to all our systems.
Lack of sleep will affect your kids in lots of ways – poor behaviour being the main one to look out for. Could those friendship issues and poor school reports simply be down to tiredness and the irritability that comes with it?
I know how grumpy I am if I don’t get my sleep and as adults, we have more self-control and an understanding of what we need to do to get rid of our sleep deficit and keep going through the day.
Children have none of these skills so hello melt-downs at the most inopportune times – and frequently out of the blue.
If you find your kids’ behaviour is getting worse, see if a few early nights restores them to their usual selves.
And make the most of the extra ‘me’ or ‘couple’ time that gives you. You are probably equally tired trying to cope with all the arguing, bickering and mood swings.
You could probably do with an early night too!