Getting the little ones off to sleep can be one of the most challenging parts in any parent’s day.
In fact, studies have found that one in four parents find the process stressful, while more than two thirds claim bedtime is was the most stressful part of their day.
This is causing parents to hire ‘bedtime nannies’. First advertised for on Childcare.co.uk, bedtime nannies specialise in the evening childcare duties, from getting your child to finish dinner, showering or bathing them, reading them a bedtime story and finally, getting them tucked into bed.
One such nanny is Natalie Freemantle, who charges £100-a-time to solve the end of day dramas. This includes a three-hour consultation with parents to implement a specialised action plan for bedtime.
Freemantle, a babysitter with ten years experience and mother-of-one herself, shared her top tips for bedtime with Fabulous Online. From upping their dinner portions to the ‘grab and drop’ technique, here’s what to do to get your littlens to settle…
Stick to the routine
Finding the right routine is one thing sticking to it is another. For Natalie, even one slip up can mess up all the progress.
Natalie told Fabulous Online: “If you want bedtime to be 7.30, it should be 7.30 every night. Don’t let them stay up an extra 15, 20 minutes, because they will keep pushing the boundaries – and it confuses the children.
“It differs for every age, but I’d say whether they’re a young baby or teenagers, be consistent. The parent has to lead the situation.
“Stick to that rule because the kids will go ‘well you let me the other day, so why can’t I now?’ Arlo goes to bed every night at 7.30 and he sleeps through until 7 in the morning.”
Return them to bed in silence
Stealthy bed runs from your toddler have the potential to keep parents up for hours. It’s exhausting and frustrating, but according to Natalie, showing that frustration will only make things worse.
“It’s about limiting the amount of conversation that you have with them. The first time they get up, be super clear with them and say ‘no this is bed time, you’re going back to bed’,” she told the publication.
“But after that I don’t say anything to them, I just take them straight back to bed because otherwise it gets into a verbal discussion about who has the power.
“Don’t pick them up and take them downstairs if they can’t sleep, because you’re just reinforcing that behaviour. They will learn really quickly.”
Look to distraction techniques
Sometimes, playing hard ball is the only way to get around tricky children. Natalie suggests simple distraction techniques to keep your children from dwelling on the fact they have to go to bed.
“If they’re having a meltdown over something, for example they hate brush teeth, I’d brush my teeth at the same time so you’re being a role model for the child,” she says.
“And you’d say ‘oh look, my toothbrush is lighting up’, because it’s an electric toothbrush, and try and distract them out of whatever funk they’re currently in.”
Make sure they’re not hungry
Sometimes, it’s worth considering why your child doesn’t want to go to bed yet: could it be more than plain stubbornness?
Natalie says: “If the parent is having to really drag them up the stairs at bedtime, it’s about trying to work out why the child is doing that.
“If they’ve been watching TV for an hour before, are they over stimulated?
“Have they had enough to eat at dinnertime? If dinner’s at 4 o’clock and they’re going to bed at 7.30, they may be a little bit hungry.”
Don’t let attention seeking win
“If they’re attention seeking, some of it I completely ignore. I pretend certain things don’t happen, obviously it depends on the severity of what they’re doing,” Natalie says.
Speaking about one of her own attention-seeking clients, she said: “I’ve had a little girl before that used to fake cry, she’d try and catch your eye and then burst into tears but there’s no actual tears coming out.
“I would choose not to look at them and ignore altogether. It depends how bad the children are, how far they’ll push it, but I think try the ignoring tactic first.”
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