Raise your hand if you could use a good night’s sleep? Who out there wants naptime at daycare to be more successful? Who wouldn’t want those things? Sleep can be elusive for children just like it can be for adults. Here are a few simple suggestions to help make sleep come easier for your kids. And they won’t hurt for adults either! Lack of sleep is detrimental to children not only for the tantrums and melt downs it causes, but it’s also important for physical growth and developmental growth. Click here to see the importance of sleep for kids.
Did anyone ever notice kids act better for everyone other than their own parents. Kids know their parents love them no matter what and that will never change, so they tend to show their real selves to their parents more than any other people. You know the old, you hurt the ones you love the most saying, it’s true. Many time parents or grandparents share with me their disbelief about how I can get 7 kids to lay on mats in my playroom a mere few inches apart and they all go to sleep. HOW DO YOU DO THAT? It is THE most common question I am asked by my parents.
Obviously, it will go more smoothly for me simply because I am NOT their parent. But these tips worked with my own daughter too. After 22 years of putting kids down for naps, I know how to find success. Check out my tips on how to do it. ROUTINES, ROUTINES, ROUTINES! This is the number one tip for making any part of your day successful. Children NEED to know what’s coming next. If your child is always in a different place doing something different and they never know what to expect, settling down is harder for them.
Have a set routine for bed time every single night! A simple routine could be: Bath, PJ’s, Teeth Brushing, Read a Story, Go to Sleep It doesn’t matter as much what the routine is as that you have one. At daycare, our routine is: Potty, Wash Hands, Story, Songs, Huggies, Get in bed, Choose a stuffed animal, Get covered up in your blankie, Be still and let your friends sleep. Most days they are all out within 5 minutes. I have one who fights sleep sometimes and it takes them up to 30 minutes to fall asleep some days, but mostly they are out in 5 as well. Here are my ten best tips to getting your kids to rest well.
- GET THE KIDS TO BED ON TIME! If kids (and adults) get overly tired, they start to produce stress hormones called cortisol that prevent them from falling asleep and staying asleep. Make sure you have a set bed time or nap time and stick to it! The more tired a child becomes, the less they will sleep. You can’t get a child to sleep in in the morning by keeping them up later at night. It just does not work that way, the more sleep people get, the more easily they will be able to sleep. Overtired people do not sleep well.
- Make sleep a pleasant topic. Talk about how good it feels to be rested and how much you like your rest at other times when it’s not time to head to bed. Show the kids that sleep is good for them.
- Create a comfortable, peaceful environment.
- Eliminate all distractions such as TV and video games in the room. Quiet down the house around the room. Make sure the child has blankets and a comfy pillow to snuggle up in. Tuck them into bed and make them feel safe and warm. Make sure there is not too much light in the room, although some children will feel more comforted with a night light.
- Give them time to wind down. About an hour before your bed time routine, start transitioning the activities to quieter things. Turn the TV down, turn a few of the lights off in the house, chose some quieter things for the kids to do. Let their minds and bodies start to relax (and yours too!)
- Let kids fall asleep on their own! I know its super fun and snuggly to rock children or lay down with them, but that’s not what’s best for them. Of course newborns need to be rocked at first, but if kids are never allowed to soothe themselves to sleep, when they wake up in the night, they won’t be able to put themselves back to sleep. Do you want to get up all hours of the night and comfort your child forever? They have the tools to soothe themselves, let them develop them. It doesn’t make your relationship less close or cause the children harm to settle themselves to sleep. Stick to your routine, give them what they need, tell them you’re leaving the room and they need to stay in bed, and then leave. No one should be laying down is a 4 year old or a 10 year old to help them fall asleep every night. Let them do it on their own and they will develop more confidence in themselves.
- Be in charge. Don’t let the kids run the show. It’s our job to set healthy boundaries and actually, limits make children feel safe. Knowing you are in charge is comforting to them, and don’t you know what’s good for them as the adult? Our job is to care for children’s needs. Do what you know is best, even when it’s not the favorite thing of the child.
Making bedtimes peaceful and successful takes time if they haven’t been in the past. Don’t give up! Stick to your guns and stick with your routines and you will be amazed how it improves every part of your life. Being well rested is the best gift you can give yourself, your family, and the world. It’s worth the effort, and you can do it!