Life is hectic and parents are normally spinning multiple plates on a daily basis; work, children, meals, school admin – the to-do lists are never ending! The guilt we often feel as parents when there just isn’t enough time in the day to feel like we are spending ‘quality’ time with our little ones can feel overwhelming and for little ones who have maybe been at school/nursery all day, they can crave this attention at the one time of the day when they know they do have your undivided attention – bedtime! This can lead to battles at bedtime in an attempt to string it out and spend more time with you.
But you might be surprised to know that it really is quality over quantity in terms of 1:1 time. If you can spend just 15-20 minutes a day, away from the bedtime routine (which should be kept as a nice relaxing time, aimed at transitioning from day time to night time), engaging in real child-led playtime with your little one, that can be enough to fill up their attention cup and stop them from seeking it at bedtime (which is often when they are overtired anyway and not the best time to start a game of hide and seek or rough and tumble play)! Try to schedule in these short bursts of intensive, playful time at least once a day, perhaps before or after dinner, or at the weekends around other activities you have planned.
So, what kinds of things tick that box for children? Watching a film together or reading a book isn’t enough – the key is making it interactive and child-led – so they feel as though they have your undivided attention. It comes down to their personality of course, but could include playing a game, hide and seek, playing with dolls, dressing up, lego, cars racing, playing tag, cooking, building something, it doesn’t really matter as long as it’s something that you and your child can enjoy together. The quality of this 1:1 time can make an amazing amount of difference to a child’s sleep and is something we always include in our sleep plans when we’re working with families.
As always, if you are struggling with your child’s sleep – for whatever reason – please do get in touch, we’d love to help.