How to Help Kids Sleep Before the Babysitter Arrives
First up, rest assured that at Sitters you don’t have to get your children in bed, tucked up, and off to the land of nod before one of our babysitters arrive. All of our babysitters are experienced childcare professionals themselves - frequently parents and even grandparents. They are very happy to finish off the bedtime routine, read the favourite stories, and get little heads dropping off.
However, as parents ourselves, we also know that sometimes you worry that maybe leaving will be harder if your child is still awake, asking a barrage of questions, and holding on to your leg as you’re trying to get out of the door on time. We know that the excitement of having someone else look after them can mean a change to the routine, and the knock-on effects that can have. Therefore, here are our top tips to help kids sleep and get them slumbering away as quickly as possible.
1. Set Their Body Clock
When parents think of children and their bedtime routine, they don’t always consider what the process is actually doing beyond getting their little one off to sleep. However, a key part of a routine working is actually largely to do with setting your child’s body clock. Hence, implementing their usual bedtime routine might work if you try it early for the sake of the babysitter’s arrival, but it might not. If you want your child sleeping at 7.30pm then you need to entice their body clock into it. This may involve waking them at a set time, as well as following the routine itself.
2. Ditch the Screens
In our modern world it’s not unusual for screen-time to actually become part of a child’s bedtime routine. However, if you want to help kids sleep, this is actually counter-productive. The light from screens affects the body’s production of melatonin, the ‘sleep hormone’. Furthermore, technology actively keeps the brain alert and is therefore not conducive to a calm winding-down towards the land of nod.
3. Reduce Stress
Ever wonder why you can’t sleep when you’re worrying? It’s to do with another hormone, this time cortisol. This hormone served us well in the past when we needed our fight or flight instinct to prevent sleep when a sabre-tooth tiger was nearby, not so useful when the worry is that there are monsters under the bed, or that Mummy and Daddy are going out. By reducing the anxiety a child may feel at bedtime you can reduce cortisol levels and help entice them in to sleep.
4. Consider the Environment
Bedrooms frequently become a sea of Lego for the unwary bare-footed parent, or are home to a mountain of laundry, or a population of cuddlies. Giving some thought to creating a calming and uncluttered environment in your child’s bedroom can help them to associate elements of it with sleep. This can be done by adding room-tidying to the nightly routine. Also make sure that natural light is cut out to avoid disruption to their natural sleep patterns. Furthermore, ensure that the room is the right temperature. When we sleep, and most notably in the crucial REM sleep phase, our body temperature drops. A child’s sleeping environment should be 18-21°C to aid their body in its sound sleep endeavours and to prevent waking because it is too warm.
5. Change the Focus
Sometimes a little perversity can creep in with our wonderful children. Knowing that your aim is to despatch them off to sleep quickly can cause them to play up and dig their heels in. The solution is to change the focus away from sleep and towards relaxation. Rather than actively attempting to get them to sleep, do actively teach them the tools to relax. Sleep will then follow.
Help Kids Sleep – And Enjoy Your Evening Out
Knowing that your child or children is in the good hands of a Sitters babysitter is one part of giving you the peace of mind to enjoy your evening. Knowing that your child or children are asleep, and therefore will be well-rested into tomorrow and unaffected by the change in routine, is the other.