The new study has revealed the extent to which modern parents are losing the battle of bedtime, with 55% trying desperately to establish a bedtime routine, but almost the same amount (51%) saying in reality, it is the single most stressful time of the day.
In fact, the average parent loses 7.9 hours sleep a week, which adds up to a whopping 52 nights a year, because their children Just. Won’t. Go. to sleep.
While 79% of the 2,000 parents surveyed say they prefer their children to be in bed at or before 8pm, the reality is as many as 58% are going to bed after this – with one in 10 going to bed after 10pm every night.
The study reveals it takes a further 43 minutes (on average) after teeth and stories to get children to settle properly and go to sleep.
“Mummy I need a drink/have a sore tummy/want another cuddle.”
In news that won’t come as a surprise to any parent, the average bedtime routine includes three bedtime stories, two tantrums, four kisses goodnight, two claims of illness and another two shouts for parents to rearrange sheets.
Overall, parents make three trips back to their child’s bedroom after lights out and kids get back out of bed three times, which inevitably leads to family arguments.
And according to the poll around four in ten children (38%) will get up again during the night.
Unsurprisingly this leads to a lack of sleep, which almost half (48%) of parents confess makes them feel miserable, with 47% admitting to being bad tempered and just over a quarter 27% worrying about the effect it has on their relationship.
The figures have been released to mark the launch of Disney Junior UK’s new Parenting Hacks podcast, (available to download on iTunes from today) hosted by Helen Skelton, which brings together parents, experts and special guests to explore tips, tricks and ways to support busy parents.
Commenting on the findings parenting expert Dr Claire Halsey said: “We all know how stressful it can be getting our children to go to sleep, and this can have an effect on our own bedtime routine. However, there are ways to help settle your child, so they feel peaceful and calm during this important time of the day, which in turn allows you more time to relax and prepare yourself for a good night’s sleep.”
So how do you win the battle of bedtime and get children to sleep on time?
Cathy Ranson, editor of ChannelMum.com has some suggestions…
“Bedtime battles can be one of the most stressful areas of parenting. When children don’t get enough sleep, it impacts every area of their life and can make it even harder to get them to bed the next night,” she says.
“Remember your role – As a parent, your role is to do what’s best for your child and that means getting them to bed at the right time. While teens can negotiate a later bedtime, it’s down to you to ensure toddlers, infant and junior children get the sleep they need.”
Set a routine and stick to it
“Set a bedtime and an hour before, run a bath, add a few drops of relaxing bubble bath like Lavender,” suggests Cathy. “After the bath, read them a story or let them have time to read and wind down. Then lights out, sit and chat to your child until they feel secure enough to sleep. It may be a battle at first but eventually it will provide security and their body clock will adjust to expect it.”
Get the light right
Smaller children may be scared of the dark so try a nightlight and avoid bedtime if they are frightened. “They only cost around £10 but can really help tots who are prone to get up in the night,” Cathy says.
Go tech free
Cathy suggests doing a pre-bedtime tech ban. “Remove all devices from their rooms overnight and make sure they are off phones, games and tablets at least an hour before bedtime,” she says. “There is growing scientific evidence the light emitted from devices can disturb sleep patterns.”
Make sure you aren’t keeping your kids up my making noise at night. “Turn down the TV, turn off the washing machine and be quiet tidying up – give them a calm environment to drift off in,” Cathy advises.
Go to bed when they do
Because what parent isn’t craving an early night? “If you are really struggling with getting your kids to sleep, lead by example try a few nights when you go to bed at the same time. Without anyone else up, many children don’t find staying up exciting anymore,” Cathy explains.
Give them an incentive
Rewards charts can work wonders. “Get them a small treat for each full week they go to bed on time without a fuss,” Cathy suggests.
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