All you have to do is mention “Sleep” around mums of young children and everyone has a comment, question, or advice. Well, whole books have been written on the subject, so firstly I will give you a précis of 3 top tips, and then in Agony Aunt style have answered some “Bump, Baby and Beyond” questions.
Core Sense Sleep Tips
1) Find out what your child’s natural sleep routine is.
This is easier said than done, because chances are you’ve already established a routine of some sort, or your child has moved into habits such as staying up much later than is right for them. So, think back, or just keep a watchful eye and see how their energy changes. Often children who stay up late dip, or go straight into a more active phase – that’s the clue. They should have gone to bed about 30 minutes before that active phase, so that they can relax into sleep.
2) Establish a relaxing bedtime routine.
Include things like bath-time, some gentle yoga stretches, having a cuddle and reading stories (even to very young babies), and relaxing music.
If your child is older, you can still introduce this, and it’s a great time of day to see if quality conversation flows naturally, or just share companiable silence.
3) Make sure your child has some exercise, ideally outside, during the day.
They will find it hard to relax if they’ve been running around even up to 90 minutes before bedtime, but if they’ve had fresh air and exercise at some point during the day, they will sleep bett
Questions from “Bump, Baby and Beyond” parents for the Wellbeing Change Agent…
“Sleep – How to get some?!” Helen,
Sleep when your baby, or even child, sleeps. Seriously, if you want to be awake every moment they are, then you need to sleep every moment they do! Well, that’s over-stating it a bit, but you get the idea?
It’s a recommended tactic for new mums, but actually, you may go through phases where it really helps as your children grow – and as you change too. One of my clients went to bed about an hour after her children when they were 5 and 7 for around 12 months. It helped them all relax and have a sound night’s sleep.
“After doing some reading around, both myself and my other half found it really comforting to know that babies are biologically and evolutionarily speaking not really ‘meant’ to sleep alone, or through the night. It didn’t make me less tired, but it made it easier to cope with. I also found that choosing to make positive parenting choices at night made a difference to my attitude.” Briony ,
This is really helpful, Briony. Thank you for sharing.
When we make conscious choices we feel more in control, so by choosing what to do, when and how, we will feel better, even if we are getting the same amount of sleep. So, choose carefully, and consciously, everyone.
Be realistic about what you want to achieve over a chosen time-period. When my boys were younger, I noticed that we had 3 month cycles. So I would review and plan for 3 months at a time. If I tried to do too much, I would get tired and cranky, so I would prioritise.
What kind of Mum do you want your children to have? If you’re not being it, then what do you need to change?
“How to cope with night time waking when they share a room with a sibling! How do you balance teaching them to go back to sleep by themselves with not waking the other one up!” Kirstan.
Excellent question, Kirstan. It is usually us, as parents, who are more aware of this than the children involved. So, my advice is to stay calm, and focus on the one who is awake.
Do as much as you can do without sound, and try this: firstly, if necessary calm the one who’s awake. Often a reassuring cuddle is what’s needed.
Make sure that your focus is fully on the one who is awake.
Once they are reasonably relaxed, simply hold your hand lovingly against their back and imagine you are flowing calm, complete love from your heart and through your hand to your child.
Trust your instinct; you may have a colour, or beautiful sound in your mind, or you may imagine that the flow of love moves into your child and into their heart and then flows through their body, filling them up with your love, until it overflows and they are held in a beautiful cocoon of love that comes from within. Trust that the energy you have shared will stay with them all night, and give them a kiss that feels like you are sealing your love to protect them whilst they sleep.
“Would be good to know how to get your kids to re-adjust to the clocks going back and forwards!, always a nite mare!!” Emma
Focus on night-time, and the morning will adjust in line. Night-time is much easier to guide and control than waking up!
Try the approach of simply moving straight to the new time, and essentially expect that the children will settle within 3 days. If that’s too much, you can always “wean” them onto the new time over a period of 3 – 5 days. So, if they usually go to sleep at 7 and the clocks have gone forward to 8; then change their bedtime by 20 minutes each night to get in line with the new time.
Quite often, the clocks changing coincide with a developmental change, meaning that the sleep pattern also is ready to change – so please be aware that it may be time to review and adjust your routines anyway.
“I’m at the other end of the scale & would like to know how to get my teen out of bed!!! :)”Gayle
The key question to ask Gayle, is … “Is this something that you need, or that your teen needs?” Often, we want to get our teen up, but our teen really needs extra sleep at that point. If your teen needs to be up for school or work, then this is actually about empowering them to take responsibility for themselves.
I would recommend having an open conversation about the situation. Don’t go in “all guns a-blazing” or with a specific outcome in mind. Just have a chat to explore what’s going on, why, and how you can make the situation work for the two of you.
“How to get ur 3 year old to stay in bed later than 5.30am. It’s been a long three years!!” Andrea
Andrea, I too, have early risers and would recommend putting them to bed slightly later. What time do you want them to get up? If its 30 minutes later, then put them to bed 30 minutes later – and spend that 30 minutes in a very calming way for both of you.
I would also recommend explaining what is acceptable for your 3 year old to do in the morning. Staying in their room looking at books is fine, but singing loudly, or jumping on your bed is not!
You can get sleep trainers, which you “train” your child to get out of bed, or leave their room only when the alarm clock animals’ eyes are open. If you’re going to do that, I would suggest doing it really soon, and think very carefully about how you present it to your child.