Managing sleep during our working week

Monday, January 11th, 2016

For a parent or child, we all know what it feels like to get that full nights’ sleep, we are bright, well rested and full of energy and ready to take on the day, for our children they are content, full of beans and are ready for action!

Often with young children, we can experience nights of broken or interrupted sleep. Whether it’s a baby needing a feed, a toddler wanting to sleep in your bed, bad dreams or an early riser – it can be exhausting and difficult trying to function at work the next day!

When we are working we want to be able to give our children what they need to make them happy and comfortable while also keeping it together so we can focus on our day’s work.  With a plan of action, consistency and perseverance there is so much that we can do to help both ourselves and our child to settle and sleep more contently.

Encourage Positive Sleep Habits

If we want to encourage sleep in small babies and young children we first need to look for the signals of them feeling tired or sleepy and then acting on it.  For young babies, when tired they often appear agitated, rubbing their eyes, yawning or crying. For the toddler or the older child, it’s the same but more so tiredness can be judged on behaviour.  They can be more irritable. Small children are not necessarily good judges of how tired they are so often they will keep going until they hit that wall!  Babies and young children can become over tired where they can have a second wind, as a result they will ‘fight’ it and have difficulty settling and going to sleep. The recommended time for a child to be asleep in bed is 8pm.

Daytime Routine

Having a good daytime routine, encouraging predictable mealtimes, naps and outside playtime if possible helps children feel more secure and know what to expect.  As night time approaches try and create some sense of calm, avoid busy cartoons, loud music and rough & tumble play.

Bedtime & Daytime Routines

Creating a predictable and consistent bedtime routine from when your child is a small baby is a great way to start; I always encourage a visual picture sequence that we can place up on our wall near to their bedroom to allow your child to see what is happening next, pyjamas, hands, face and teeth, story time, cuddle and time to settle to sleep.  When working often it’s bedtime that you have those chats about the day, if you find your child becomes overwhelmed with questions, try and ask them what their favourite part of the day was in crèche or school, they are more likely to share if it’s an open question!

 Things That Go Bump in the Night

If you have a tiny visitor during the night, ideally explore during the daytime what it is that’s upsetting them most.  Bad dreams are so common for all ages however for our smaller children they can often find it hard to determine between what’s real and what’s fantasy.  A lot of it is about reassuring your child that they are ok while staying with them as they settle back to sleep.  Likewise if they simple just want to be cosy in beside you however sleep is priority for everyone, returning them to their own bed taking the same approach each time will be a big help.  Some families are more than happy to have extra to cuddle however if it’s something you want to change then a plan is necessary.

Early risers

If your child is an early riser a particular challenge with that or night-time waking is pre-schoolers can’t tell the time and don’t know when it’s morning.  Often for the parent it’s easier to allow them into their bed if it means two more hours of sleep!  The Gro-Clock is a great way to let your child know when it’s time to get up.  How so they know? The sleeping star on the gently lit clock illustrates to “stay in bed until you see the sun!”

The Gro-Clock also comes with a beautifully illustrated book which helps to encourage children to stay in bed longer, which means more sleep for them and more sleep for you!

Whatever the approach you decide to take it’s important that you decide on a plan of action, be consistent and persevere!

Aoife Lee, Parent Coach for Giraffe Childcare

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