Did you know that from 9 months to 9 years of age, your child needs a minimum of 11 (yes ELEVEN) hours of sleep?
So, it’s time for you to wake up to the facts: 90% of those problems you have with your kids that have fancy psychiatric names are actually a manifestation of a lack of enough replenishing rest. Pure and simple.
I know you can relate… you are probably thinking about your own sleep deprivation issues, aren’t you!
Here are some ways to tell if your young child (or spouse… or yourself) is sleep deprived.
- Does your child fall asleep in the car almost every time you drive with them? For you parents the question would be more along the lines of do you feel really exhausted in the afternoons or just sort of shut down physically when you have a minute between activities? I’m really hoping you don’t fall asleep in the car – as it’s likely you are the one driving…
- Do you have to wake your child up almost every morning?
- Is your child moody, over-emotional and act irrationally at unpredictable things?
- On some nights does your child just pass out, and much earlier than the usual bedtime?
On the other hand, your child has enough sleep when these behaviors are present:
- He can fall asleep within 15 – 30 minutes of being put down or going to bed.
- He can wake up easily at the time that he needs to without nagging.
- He is awake and alert all day. He doesn’t go into a meltdown in the afternoon.
Okay moms and dads, look at your own life and see if you are getting enough sleep too! If not, you are being a bad example, will be short tempered, over-emotional with your kids and spouse, co-workers and friends. I know I am being harsh but parents are the the most important component to a happy child and thus sufficient rest for you comes first!
Easy for me to say, I am already a grandmother… but there was a time when I too had young children and I found that the only thing that saved my sanity was to get into a regular routine, find that ideal time of night when my child was slowing down and before she got that dreaded second wind that lasted until midnight, and make games out of getting ready for bed.
One thing that really helps is to let your child pick their pajamas, pick their bedtime story, pick the favorite toy to sleep with, pick the song they want you to sing etc., so that they feel like they have some control. Incidentally, they are also included in the process and so are tacitly approving of going to bed themselves.
Be sure to do one thing at a time and complement each stage accomplished with comments like “you are so smart to be letting your body get the rest it needs.” Or maybe something along the lines of: “Mommy is going to go to bed too so she can be super happy tomorrow morning, just like you!” “Why don’t you help me and pick my jammies first… then we can pick yours!” You get the idea.
Finally, please start the bedtime routine very early – some families start a full hour ahead at first because of ingrained bad habits plus years of full on sleep deprivation that renders a child completely incapable of cooperation. You know what I am talking about.
If you and your family pick out a week to get in “project plenty of rest” and stick to it, you will be so glad you did. Everyone benefits, and though 11 hours of sleep doesn’t cure everything, it sure handles a lot.