The bedtime tussle
As Jack has got older, he has become more and more desperate to stay downstairs as late as possible with mum and dad.
His inquisitiveness has reached whole new levels, he’s completely fascinated with absolutely everything – what my wife and I are watching, drinking, eating and talking about. I adore his curiosity and want to cherish his appetite for the world, but, unsurprisingly, getting a good night sleep takes precedence now he’s back at school.
From my experience, starting the bedtime routine early is absolutely essential. We normally get Jack up the stairs about 20 minutes before we think he needs to be asleep. This gives my wife and me a window for any fussing or problems.
Repeating this every night allows Jack to know the score as much as us – he knows that after his bath comes a story, and then its sleep time. As with other aspects of parenthood, consistency is crucial.
Keeping a firm bedtime can be really difficult – especially when your child is distressed. I find it really difficult to resist giving in – far easier simply to give Jack a cuddle and allow him to stay awake, but I think it’s really important to bear in mind that in doing so, I’m doing Jack no good in the long term.
Juliet Newson, sleep therapist at Millpond Children’s Sleep Clinic, says that “the most important thing for children who are getting out of bed is that their parents are consistent with what they are doing and are returning them to their bed”.
Often the crying is simply down to tiredness, so indulging in the tears will only magnify the problem and keep your child up longer.
Most importantly, bedtimes shouldn’t be something to be feared by parents – they should be seen as a real opportunity to spend some quality time with your child.
As a working dad, I really cherish the nights I get to spend with Jack. I look forward to being able to give him a bath, read him a story, and simply hear about his day.
I think bedtimes are one of the times where Jack has learnt the most – reading a book, counting to ten or simply playing with water. It’s the perfect chance to teach in a peaceful and loving environment.