Listen to this story
Relax. You are a parent, not the entertainment officer on a cruise liner. You don’t have to programme exciting, stimulating entertainment into every waking moment of your child’s day. That pressure is there though, especially if you arrive home from work only an hour or two before they have to go to bed, and you see this thin sliver of time available for you to be the good parent you want to be.
My suggestion – spend less time playing and doing activities and, instead, make bedtime wonderful. Spread it out, stringing together all the ready-for-bed routines with with fun and cuddly rituals, starting with the way you carry them to bed. Read stories or, better still, make up stories, talk about their day, sing songs or lullabies, and finish off with your quiet reassurances of love. Who wouldn’t want to end each day like that? It’s top quality family time and it settles them down for a good night’s sleep.
Technology can hijack this time, though. Phones, pads and computers emit short wave blue light that affects sleep that disrupts melatonin secretion so they don’t feel sleepy. Kids sleep so much better if they have a quieter, darker hour before bed, without any bright screens. One final tip – if you arrive home after bedtime, leave a note for your child. They will think it is great that you were thinking of them.