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They make it look so easy in the movies. The kids are all tucked up in bed, Mommy and Daddy come in to kiss them goodnight and the kids snuggle down happily into dreamland.
But as those of us living in the real world know, it ain’t always that simple! Because your child might refuse to go to bed in the first place. Or he/she might hop out of it 20 minutes later, with tales of thirst/monsters/bullying siblings.
Whatever’s keeping them up, it’s keeping you up, too. And this could be a nightly occurrence, meaning that neither of you is getting the sleep you need. Of course, there’s lots of resources to check out with sleep-related tips – The Sleep Advisor website is just one of them – but let’s start with an easy way around the problem.
Your child’s bedroom.
You have the ability to turn it from a place they fear and loathe to a sleep sanctuary. All it takes is a little DIY know-how, a “can-do” attitude…and a handy guide like this one!
Start with the lighting
Nothing says harsh bedroom environment like fluorescent lighting. If you’ve got especially bright bulbs in your child’s bedroom, it may be time to bring in some softer companions. You can install a dimmer switch if you like; or, far easier, buy a nightlight for their bedside table. The gentle glow will help them to feel safe and secure as they nod off, instead of being plunged into darkness when you leave the room.
Tip: If even this low lighting appears to be keeping them awake, leave the hallway light on and keep their bedroom door slightly ajar instead. This might also reduce the amount of times they ask you to bring them to the bathroom during the night!
Add a dose of comfort
Whether it’s the blanket they’ve had for years or an army of cuddly toys, let them bring it to bed. They’ll have that added security once you’ve left the room and will go to sleep easier in the knowledge of the familiar.
Tip: In saying that, don’t overload them with toys or anything too stimulating! Put their toys away before bedtime so they won’t be tempted to hop out of bed and into an energetic dollhouse session.
Plan your colour palette
Similarly to leaving toys in view, the colours in your child’s bedroom can be overstimulating when they’re supposed to be settling down. So when decorating, stick to soft and relaxing colours like light yellows or blues. If Coca Cola red happens to be their favourite colour, try and coax them towards a more muted version, or just sticking to red picture frames!
Leave the screens outside
Devices like TVs, tablets and smartphones all emit blue light – which again, can lead to the mind being overstimulated and overactive instead of sleepy and relaxed. Not to mention the fact that if your kids are playing video games or watching movies in bed, those dreams may not be so sweet…cue you being woken up at 3am!
So try not to let these screens into your child’s bedroom. In fact, switch ‘em off an hour before bedtime and enjoy some storytime instead. It’s a great habit to get into! This way, their bedroom will be somewhere they look forward to reaching when it’s time for bed, thanks to the quality time they get to spend with you.
Give it a test run
Children have incredible imaginations. And because of this, it’s often hard for us adults to understand what keeps them up at night. So my top tip for setting up your child’s room, and ensuring they get a sounder sleep, is this: try it out yourself.
Once you’ve worked on the lighting, and the colour scheme, and the cuddly comforts, sleep in their bedroom for a night yourself. See if there’s any weird shadows thrown around by that dressing gown in the corner. Listen out for the strange noises of a house settling down. Whatever you note that could be in any way scary, get ready with an explanation. Because when your fearful child blurts out a reason as to why they can’t sleep, you’ll be able to reassure them back into dreamland.
Hopefully these tips will help your child to settle down at night…so you can both be happier, more rested people come morning!
Sweet dreams to you both. xoxo
Hi, I’m Sarah – mom to an adorable (and energetic!) two-year-old girl. I’m obsessed with all things sleep and since my daughter was born, have learned to value it in a whole new way! When I’m not sleeping, or offering advice around sleeping, I can be found walking my Golden Lab on sunny Venice Beach.