The New Year is a great time to kick off a sleep reset for your whole family. After a fun filled holiday season with extra sweets, family vacations and one too many late bedtimes, it’s never been a better time to get your family’s sleep back on track.
Start by taking stock of what’s working and what’s not
If your child is not getting the sleep they need, there is a good chance you are not getting the sleep YOU need. If there’s one thing I know as a child sleep consultant and mom, we are all better parents when we get sleep. Pick a weekend morning to do a family meeting with your child and discuss the importance of good sleep. Stay in your cozy pyjamas, make your child’s favourite breakfast and then settle into a quiet space in your home to discuss your child’s sleep with them. Explain the reasons sleep is important and how it helps our bodies grow. Make the conversation relatable to your child by saying for example “good sleep makes us run faster and jump higher.”
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Bedtime routine & sleep rules
During the family meeting discuss the bedtime routine and sleep rules. The key to this is that bedtime needs to be treated just like any other non-optional part of the day like going to school or brushing your teeth. Give your child choices, let them choose their favourite pyjamas or which stuffed animal to bring to bed as a “sleep buddy”. This will give them the chance to show their independence. When you collaborate with your child they will start to feel more in control of the situation and will accept the rules much easier. You can make a poster with the sleep rules or use flashcards to go through each step. Get creative with your child, use stickers, markers, glitter etc. to make it fun for them.
The sleep steps can be similar to these:
- Take a bath.
- Put on my pyjamas.
- Brush my teeth.
- We read books together.
- Hugs and Kisses
- Close my eyes.
- Stay in my bed.
Each evening, go over the list with your child. This will help them understand what is expected of them at bedtime and what is coming next. Give yourself 30-35 minutes to calmly wind down together. An early bedtime is key to eliminate bedtime battles. Click here to find an easy to use printable of the bedtime routine to get you started.
Celebrate in the morning
After your child has a great night of sleep, reward them for it. When you reunite with your child in the morning, celebrate hat a superstar sleeper they are and how brave they were to stay in their bed. If you want to include rewards, you can. You can let them choose a sticker with their favourite character, animal or theme as a badge of honour. After a couple great nights of sleep, celebrate your child by planning a fun pancake breakfast, an ice cream sundae bar with their favourite toppings, a game night or a family movie night. Over time you will see the positive effects nurturing your child’s autonomy has on your whole family.