Routine when you’re a busy parent is key to a happy life. Without routine – especially at bedtime – I would more than likely have a total breakdown each and every day. I need ME time and at around 7.15pm that is when the ‘me time’ really kicks in, and I completely relish in the chance to fully wind down without having to listen to any noise, referee any fights or clean up any chocolaty dribbles.
When I first became a parent I was incredibly lucky to birth a fantastic sleeper and a really chilled out baby. I didn’t really know what I was supposed to do and never really thought about setting a solid routine but we kind of just fell into this serene peace every evening having sleepy cuddles which then slowly turned into a full on bedtime routine. At each parent and toddler group we would attend I would always be the smug one sat listening to the other exhausted mums telling all about the previous nights horror stories of children refusing to sleep and being woken multiple times a night by either screams or a small creature crawling into their bed where they would resume sleep spread-eagled leaving their poor parents teetering on the edge as scared to squash them as they were to wake them. Unfortunately being the smug one didn’t last, and these brilliant mum’s were there for me every week when I would turn up – late – puffy eyed and about a nanosecond from a meltdown of my own. The reason? Well we called him Max.. among other things.. and he definitely knocked me hard off of the ‘perfect parent’ pedestal.
With sleep being so essential to our mental and physical health and wellbeing, it is especially important when you’re parenting young children. Lack of sleep is one of the hardest parts of parenthood and one of the biggest challenges we face. In order to be the best parents we can be we must first be feeling good within ourselves.
Trust me when I say I know just how hard this can be when your tank is running on empty and you feel like you’re just stumbling bleary eyed through each day. As I touched upon above, Max was a huge challenge when it came to sleep. I tried to implement the same approach as I did with Amelia but as we all know, no two children are the same. Rather than sleeping straight through the night, he wouldn’t sleep at all. I would be lucky if I managed to get a solid two hours of sleep for the first 6 months of his life. No matter what I did he would still wake in a screaming rage every hour and I tried everything.
Being a young mum meant I was offered a special kind of health visitor that would visit us every month throughout my pregnancy and for the first two years of Amelia’s life. Ultimately, her advice is what really helped me with Max and learning what he needed for not only him get some sleep but for us to as well. We set a solid routine and moved him into his own room into the big cot rather than the little crib next to our bed so he had his own space which really seemed to help. Now, thankfully, he sleeps right through the night and usually has a 2/3 hour nap each afternoon after lunch too which is complete bliss.
What Is Bath, Book Bed?
BookTrust is the UK’s largest children’s reading charity. We work to inspire a love of reading in children because we know that reading can transform lives. Each year we reach 3.4 million children across the UK with books, resources and support to help develop a love of reading. You can read more about the BookTrust here.
This year, Bath, Book, Bed is back for a third year since launching in May 2016. Their simple solution to parents sleep troubles is a 3 step routine which includes a soothing bedtime story to help little ones sleep soundly. Forget iPad’s, tablets, phones or any other gadget and lets go back to basics with a straight forward Bath, Book, Bed routine. Reading stories to your children is so beneficial to both parent and child as it increases your bond and also aid imagination and fosters a healthy love of books and reading.
This year the BookTrust is providing a further 600,000 free advice booklets for parents following on from the success of the previous two years.
A regular and simple routine is the most effective way to help your child settle into a great nights sleep. The same routine every night with shared reading such as Bath, Book, Bed will also feed their imagination, creativity and confidence.
Our routine is pretty standard. We try not to deter from Amelia and Max’s bedtime unless we can help it. If we do, I generally tend to suffer the consequences for the next two days after and it definitely is not any fun! I don’t tend to bath Amelia and Max every single day unless they actually need one. Most days they don’t really get mucky or dirty so we have the routine of a bath and now change of bedding every other day which actually works really well for us. Since it’s been so cold and our house is usually baltic, so rather than letting them both get cold in the bath, instead I’ve been showering them off quickly and then getting them warm and dry as fast as possible so here goes with our bedtime routine..
I feel that our bedtime routine really starts when we have our tea/dinner in the evening at about 5-5.30pm and I like to make sure we all have a good tidy up and put all of the toys away in the living room. Getting Amelia and Max to help with the clearing up is really great because it teaches them to be responsible for the mess they make and also it means there’s less for me to do which is win win!
As much as they both love a bath, it is usually so much easier to give them a quick shower after they’ve had their tea. I always notice just how much sleepier they seem after they’ve gotten all clean and I love
After their shower/bath we like to spend some time chilling out so we will either have a cuddle on our bed until they’re a bit more dry or they will both go downstairs with daddy and have a cuddle for 5 minutes whilst I make their beds and get their pyjamas and everything ready for bed. This is also time for teeth brushing!
Sometimes we all bundle into mummy and daddy’s bed and have a story or two and other times we all get into Amelia’s bed. Everynight Amelia loves a story but Max sometimes gets too tired and grumpy to wait for a story so would rather just go straight to sleep.
Bedtime means lots of kisses and cuddles and with these light evenings its becoming a bit of a pain to actually get them to go to sleep until it gets a bit darker so it also means lots of back and forth up and down the stairs. Most nights it really doesn’t take long though and I completely understand just how annoying it can be to try and sleep with light so I don’t mind too much until they get used to these lighter evenings.
Books, Books, Books!
As a part of the Bath, Book, Bed campaign we were gifted 3 books as well as a few Peppa Pig bath and bedtime goodies such as a pack of toothbrushes, a tube of toothpaste and some bath and shower wash. Amelia was so excited when I opened them up and couldn’t wait to have a wash and brush her teeth. She’s a typical Peppa Pig mad 3 year old and then both her and Max made quite a lot of funny pig noises and jumped around a lot! I have bought the Peppa toothbrushes for them before but now they just had some plain boring ones that needed replacing – so needless to say they were really excited to use the new ones with Peppa on! These books and others like them can be found on the ‘Best Bedtime Books’ list here.
Peppa Pig is a huge hit with my two little ones so they were very excited by the arrival of this Peppa book. It also came in very handy over the Easter weekend when Amelia had a chocolate overload and was sick everywhere, resulting in a 10pm shower and cuddles on the bed reading her new story book with daddy whilst mummy tended to all of the yucky clothes and bedding! I thought it was quite fitting how Mummy Pig was doing pretty much everything in the book
This book is 100% my favourite. I thought it was really funny and I love the moral behind it that you can be anything you want to be. The pictures and big, bright and colourful so Amelia and Max were really drawn to each page. Another great part is that in the back of the book it has facts about bats for children so a learning element is always a bonus with my animal mad children!
This book is really cute and has gorgeous pictures! Amelia loved the little animals and its great for showing the difference between bedtime and morning time. Amelia thinks its morning time all day is there’s any light outside!
My Top Tips for setting an effective bedtime routine
Listen to your child/ren – Bedtime may usually be fixed at 7.30pm, but sometimes children stray from routine – as frustrating as it is so remember to be flexible.
No two children are the same. One may be a late sleeper and an early riser and another may be the complete opposite – so just try to keep them to their own routine even if they don’t share one.
Why I love Bath, Book, Bed..
Having gone through the struggles of sleepless nights I know exactly how hard it can be to think rationally when trying to come up with solutions on how to solve it. And this is why I love the Bath, Book, Bed campaign so much. It’s a simple solution that not only helps to promote a great bed time routine but also encourages one-to-one parent & child time through a love of books.
‘Bath, Book Bed: Simple Steps To A Better Night’s Sleep’ is a downloadable booklet packed with helpful tips from parenting expert Jo Frost and featuring Daddy Pig (which you can download HERE) Additionally, the BookTrust website has plenty of advice for parents about how best to introduce the Bath, Book, Bed routine and how to effectively maintain it. For story ideas, have a look at the BookTrust Best Bedtime Books list.
There will be a Twitter party for the campaign held on Wednesday 11th April from 8pm to 9pm.
Thankyou for reading! We would love to know if you have or would in the future use the Bath, Book, Bed method.