FAO parents of school age children: how do you get them to sleep well and be rested for another busy day of playing, learning and chasing each other around the playground? I don’t know about you, but I find that the end of the school days produces a child that looks so tired I may as well turn up with a sleeping bag under my arm- yet get home and start to prepare for bedtime and all manner of energy re-appears! What is that all about? How do we get the balance right so that older children are able to unwind and go to sleep at a decent hour? School can be exhausting and children are expected to be on the go all day long, so it’s our job to make sure they can cope with that. But how? Hopefully these tips will help:
- Have a good routine. Chances are, you had your little one in a good routine as an infant and hopefully you stuck to this as they grew older. If not, don’t panic! There is still time to get a good routine going, and one that the whole family can work around. Routines are important as most children need to know what is expected of them and when; even older children need a little structure in their lives at home, as they expect at school.
- Allow plenty of time for wind down. According to Fi, author of The Baby Bedtime Book- Say goodnight to sleepless nights, (buy the book here) this is vital to aid restless sleep for kids. Her advice is to turn off the television and all other screens, and grab a book instead.
- Don’t skip the bedtime story. Older children that are in a good routine can still benefit from being read to at bedtime. The reading material changes, but the fact that a bedtime story allows time to relax before sleep still remains. No child is too old to listen to a good story- and this can be a wonderful quiet ten minutes for you both at the end of a busy day. Fi says that lots of older children still respond well to the same routine as younger children, so if you have little ones too this can work well for the whole family.
- Set a decent bedtime- and stick to it! Older children still need plenty of sleep to be able to function well at school the next day so agree a bedtime and make sure it is adhered to. This can be relaxed a little at weekends if you like, but be consistent during the week.
- Talk. Some children can find little things worrying and this can make sleep difficult once they are in bed. Spend time each evening to talk to your child and encourage them to share their concerns with you. Hopefully you can reassure them and help them to relax a little more. If it helps, get your child to write down their concerns in a notebook- often seeing a problem written down can help it to make sense a little more.
- Give them a break! As children get older, it can become more difficult to convince them that bedtime is important! But at school they are expected to be alert and learning the whole time, so a decent night’s sleep is essential. When they get home, give them chance to unwind from the day and to take a break from focused activities such as homework. A run at the park or around the garden can release unspent energy and help to clear the mind too.
What are your top tips for helping school kids to relax and sleep well?
Pregnancy is a glorious, wondrous time, right? The time where you glow. The time where you carry the miracle of life wherever you go. All of that is true, but it is also the time where you glow because you’ve just spent half the morning with your head down the loo, that miracle of life is carried right on top of your bladder most of the time and the fact that you can’t even wear your normal shoes is a cause for hysterical tears. But we thought that it was too easy to complain about the joys of pregnancy, so we asked you for ten things you love about those special nine months. And here they are! Pregnancy: 10 reasons why we love you!
- Improvements to skin and hair. @Laurenbloxham told us that she loved the fact her hair became thick and her skin nice and plump! The reason for this is actually just an illusion! Pregnancy doesn’t mean that you start to produce more or thicker hair, it means that the rate at which it falls out slows right down. And as for the skin? That’s caused by extra moisture retained under the skin during pregnancy. This makes the skin literally glow, and also smooths out lines and wrinkles. So make the most of your lustrous locks and youthful complexions ladies!
- Body confidence. @IamAlisonPerry told us that she loved being able to wear tight dresses during her pregnancy and stated that it was the only time she felt she could! While many will advise you not to wear clothes that are too tight during pregnancy (you don’t want to be uncomfortable, and clothes that are too tight can cause undue swelling apparently) a good quality bodycon dress made from either spandex or lycra can be perfect for the growing bump. It will you in and support you- and make your bump look fantastic!
- Taking it easy on yourself. Lots of us rush around in our busy lives, but when we have another person growing inside us and relying on us- and only us-to keep them safe and healthy, it can have a surprising turn around effect. Lucy (@lift_pt) told us that she loved being able to take naps when she needed them and that this was one of her favourite reasons for loving pregnancy. Take some time to be kind to yourself.
- Eating your favourite foods without guilt. This one was echoed by many. Not that we advocate not eating your favourite foods without guilt outside of pregnancy. And not that we advocate not eating healthily during pregnancy either. But for a lot of women, life is one long diet, or a path of restriction and for many being pregnant lifts this a little. @Twile told us that she loved eating cake without guilt and @bobblebardsley told us that from a male perspective, dining out with a pregnant lady meant that he could order a 160z steak without feeling guilty! So why do we feel we can only indulge in foods we really like during pregnancy? Would love to know your thoughts on this.
- Free dental care. A little out there, but pregnant women in the UK are entitled to it so why not make the most of it?
- Feeling baby wriggle and kick. Hands down, this has to be one of the best reasons to love being pregnant. @LJWtweets told us she missed her bump a lot, and @messyjesse13 told us that each and every movement during her pregnancy so was so precious to her. Some women feel movements as early as 13 weeks and each wriggle and kick helps the whole family to bond with the bump too.
- Knowing you are creating a miracle. It might sound cheesy but it’s true! @alicanavan told us this was her one reason for loving pregnancy and for lots of women it is enough to keep them going through morning sickness and everything else. And if you think about it, the trek that the sperm has to go through to get to the egg is pretty tough going so the fact that it gets there at all and is able to develop into your baby really is a miracle. One of life’s best.
- People find they have manners… @mommycrunch told us that she loved the fact people opened doors or gave up their seats when she was pregnant. The politeness of strangers can be kind of charming.
- The hormones. Hear me out, before you declare “Damn those hormones!”. Think about it. When you’re pregnant it’s more ok to let people know what you think and it’s ok to release emotions when you like too. Don’t keep it in- let it out and see how great you feel afterwards!
- Maternity leave. You can take up to 12 months off work with your baby. What’s not to love?