How can I stop bedtime getting later and later?

Lots of parents came to us with sleep related questions for Joanna Fortune, a child psychotherapist, to answer. A common worry is that bedtime seems to be slipping later and later. Bedtime is something that seems to get more difficult in periods of change so it’s not a surprise that so many are struggling. From magic potions and top to toe kisses – Joanna has some wonderful suggestions to get back on track.

Joana advises..

It’s easy for dinner, bath and bedtimes to get later over time. However, the problem with running behind for even just 30 minutes for young age groups – and even up to the age of 10 year olds – is they can quickly cross into becoming overtired… which an established routine can help with. Children thrive with clear, calm consistency and predictability. So an important part of Joanna’s approach is to re-establish a calming and predictable bedtime routine.

Children need to be able to anticipate with certainty what is going to happen and when, and be right about it.

Joanna’s biggest tip is to, “make room for a good, authentic belly laugh! Not tickles – they’re a stimulus – but instead some real good FUN.” Laughter helps us to release residual tension and help kids wind down.

“If all else fails, make a magic sleep spray and be totally, extremely confident with your child that it’ll work.”

You can do this by filling a small spray bottle with water and a couple of drops of lavender, and spray it around their pillow. Tell them the magic sleep spray means they have beautiful dreams and they need to hop into bed to catch them.

Remember, it takes at least 7-10 days to embed a routine, so don’t give up on day 5 when it feels difficult. Stick with it!

How to get back on track with bedtime

Try to implement no screen time one hour before bed, to create the start of ‘winding down’ time and relaxtion.

Try a ‘top-to-toe’ – like a body scan. Give kisses all the way from their head to their toes and say goodnight to each body part. This can help them become aware of their body and release tension.

Don’t give up. Stick with the routine even when it feels really tough – you’ll be glad you did.