Sweet dreams: Jo Frost's top tips on keeping children in bed
Published on: 24 April 2017 Author: Jo Frost
You've mastered the Bath, Book, Bed routine and your children are all snuggled up... or so you thought! You might have figured out how to get your family to bed, but how do you get them to stay there? Our parenting expert Jo Frost has some ideas...
Sweet dreams… We all know it's not always that easy! Many parents and carers have mastered a bedtime ritual, but find that keeping their little ones tucked in can be tricky.
So what are the small steps we can take to make sure that our children are getting a good night's sleep? Well, the number one question I always ask parents and carers is, 'What focused time did you spend with your child before you started putting them to bed?'
'Focused' is the important word, as many people come home feeling rushed to juggle teatime and the bedtime routine. They don't realise they're doing it, but they tend to go into auto-pilot which can make them seem almost robotic and certainly not present in the moment.
Children can sense this, and with technology in the mix it can all create a rather detached atmosphere before saying good night.
Older children want the breathing space to be able to talk about, say, a concern they have or something that was troubling during a school day. And this time also helps us to emotionally check in with our children, to reassure and iron out any concerns they may have, and to remind them that we are there to protect them and help them solve any challenges that may arise.
Some children, through no fault of their own, have become used to the pattern of knowing exactly when to sneak into their parents' or carers' bedroom when we are just too exhausted to spend any time taking them back to bed, worried that it will steal our precious moments of quality sleep. And we often don't realise that we are sending our children mixed messages over the breakfast table the next morning by telling them that they really must try and stay in their own bed.
For other children, it's the brilliance of their vivid imaginations turning every dark shape into a fictional character from outer space, or a plea that they are still hungry even though a hot family meal was served at dinner time.
But whatever hurdles you face putting older children to bed, the one thing I can assure you is that as long as we are mindful about creating an environment that is soothing and peaceful to the mind and their little bodies, we will help them get some quality slumber.
We must persevere and be consistent and relentless in our goal to shape good sleeping habits, but that must be with patience and love even when we are feeling tested. For I have a little secret… a child who feels safe, loved and protected is a child who will sleep soundly.