Fifty-two nights. That’s how much sleep the average UK parent loses each year trying to get their kids to go to sleep according to new research.
And I don’t know about you but bedtime shenanigans in our house tend to get worse in the run up to Christmas.
According to new research by preschool TV channel Disney Junior UK the average UK parent wastes eight hours a week dealing with bedtime battles – that’s a whopping 400 hours a year, or the equivalent of 52 nights worth of sleep. Yikes.
Perhaps it’s because we’ve got 3 kids in one bedroom – or perhaps it’s simply because we’ve got three kids – but we’re among the 51% of parents who cite bedtime as the most stressful part of the day, despite having a set bedtime routine.
Admittedly telling ours we’re going to LaplandUK right before bedtime was a bad idea, but even so, coupled with the prospect of advent calendar opening in the morning and all the other things going on at Christmas bedtime can be a total nightmare at this time of the year.
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So the cat is out of the bag: we’re going to @laplanduk on the first day of the school holidays ❄ Invitations arrived by reindeer post at bed time still cold from the North Pole & if you have a look at my insta stories you’ll see how we told them ✉ It’s fair to say they’re now besides themselves with excitement & in hindsight telling them at bed time was possibly a bad idea I just hope the oldest still believes by the time we actually get there – why is over on the blog now in an open letter to the kids in the playground this Christmas. Link in bio! #itstrue #christmascountdown #familychristmas #familyadventures #christmasdaysout #childhood #capturingchildhood #childhoodunplugged #letthembelittle #rememberingthesedays #oureverydaymoments #documentyourdays #snaphappybritmums @britmums
But what I find most interesting about the study – commissioned to mark the launch of Disney Junior UK’s new Parenting Hacks podcast, hosted by TV’s Helen Skelton and bringing together parents, experts and special guests to share advice and tips on all aspects of parenting (including sleep) – is that it flagged up ‘bedtime trouble hotspots’.
Apparently, parents in Brighton (that’s us!) and Liverpool are worst affected, losing up to 10 hours of sleep a week thanks to bedtime battles. The question is, what can we do about it – especially in the run up to Christmas when they’re even more supercharged than normal? Parenting expert Dr Claire Halsey, who helped create Disney Junior UK’s Parenting Hacks podcast, has these top tips.
7 steps to bedtime success in the run up to Christmas
1. Check the time. Deciding on a bedtime and sticking to it is a huge help. A top trick is to count 11 or 12 hours back from when they typically wake up and you will find the best time to have them snuggled up in bed ready for a long snooze.
2. Routine, routine, routine. The best way to get your child into excellent sleep habits is to have a warm, loving regular bedtime routine. This should be repeated nightly until it is almost automatic. Doing the same things in the same order each night sends off signals to your child’s mind and body that sleep is on its way.
3. Give yourself time. As far as you can do, set aside other chores or distractions and put your full focus on making the bedtime routine with your child as enjoyable as possible. Children sometimes resist bedtime to get a bit longer with you so if it’s something you do and enjoy together, they are more likely to follow the routine.
4. Fill their bedtime routine with calming, cuddly things to do. Top tips to making your child’s bedtime as positive as possible could include having a splash in the bath and then wrapping them up in a fluffy towel for a huggable way to get dry or have a quiet game.
5. When it comes to the walk to bed, try and make it positive and fun, play pretend by walking slowly up the stairs like sleepy teddy bears to slow them down.
6. The final steps could include story time once they are curled up in bed. A top tip is to decide on a book together that takes no more than 10 minutes to read, and make sure the book isn’t too exciting as your pace and tone of voice are all about soothing towards sleep.
7. Keep it quiet. Once your child is in bed, try to not make too much sound around the rest of the house. The idea of missing out on fun or an activity can easily draw children up and out of bed which could disrupt your own time to relax and their journey into the land of nod.
Are you a victim of bedtime battles in your house? Are they worse in the run up to Christmas despite the threat of Santa and his elves watching? I’d love to hear about your experience!