It can be frustrating to working parents to hear sleep educators like myself tell you to put your child to bed earlier to promote better sleep. Here I am telling you to put your child to bed at the same time you are getting home from work and daycare pick up, and the task can be an impossible feat. But before you start cursing me out, let me share with you some realistic sleep tips you can apply to working families so that everyone can get to sleep a little easier at night.
It all starts with this:
Preparation is key so try to make after-work family events easy. While it may be tough to hit that earlier bedtime there are steps that you can take to try to make it as early as possible. I’m all for a great slow cooker meal. Have dinner cooking while you are at work so that you can spend less time in the kitchen and more time around the dinner table enjoying a fun family dinner. Check out Maija Moments Easiest Slow Cooker Roast Chicken. This is always a hit at our house - it's seriously delicious! Not into crockpot meals? Sarah Remmer shares 3 Easy Supper Ideas For The Time Crunched Mom. Breakfast for supper is happening at least once a week at the Good Night home.
A consistent bedtime routine – no matter what time it starts – is key to a good nights sleep for the entire family. I get it, it’s been a long day, and most of the time we have our sight on that finish line and bedtimes can become rushed and crazed. Practicing a consistent routine with your child not only helps prepare them for bedtime but it allows parent and child to have that one-on-one time that is missed throughout the day. This is where we can ask the questions, open up communication with our little ones, and share in fun, yet calming activities that we all enjoy.
Create a sleep environment for your child that is inviting to sleep and this should start with making sure it’s a consistent sleep environment. Once your child feels safe and secure in their own room, they will have a higher chance of staying in their own bed throughout the night and suddenly the whole family is sleeping better.
Try and aim for an earlier bedtime when possible. I can’t not throw this in - #sorrynotsorry. Even if you can aim to make bedtime 15 to 30 minutes earlier than what is normally you have a better chance of putting your child down well-rested, making it easier for them to fall asleep. If an earlier bedtime isn’t possible but you feel your child is overtired during the week try and hit an earlier bedtime on the weekends and protect those weekend naps as best you can.
I’ve worked with many parents and providers and there are struggles on both sides. Typically they are the same frustrations from each party. The feelings are that either the parent or provider can’t meet the child’s nap schedules, or sleep habits and routines need to be established, sometimes by the parents and sometimes by the providers.
So what can we do as parents?
If you are in the process of researching providers, whether it be a center or home daycare, try and find a provider that matches your philosophies best and one that will follow your child’s existing sleep routine as best they can. Parents have to understand that some daycare providers have their own schedule for naps and activities due to regulations of that center, also due to the amount of children and different age groups attending.
It’s not up to your daycare provider to sleep train your child. If your little one is struggling with sleep issues it’s best to try to tackle these issues before daycare begins. Things likely won’t sort themselves out at daycare and starting daycare is a big transition one that can disrupt sleep even to the best sleepers. Work on healthier sleep habits before heading back to work if you can.
The most important tip I can share is to open up communication with your provider. If all the above tips aren’t realistic for your family then the best thing you can do is make sure you and your provider work as a team. There should be a sleep check-in at drop offs and pick up’s. When the provider knows how the child has slept throughout the night they can adjust the sleep schedule during the day to better meet the sleep needs of that child. Also if naps aren’t as restorative as they could be during the day, parents can make sure bedtime is appropriately matched when they are armed with this knowledge. So try and slow down at drops offs and pickups. Ask the questions and provide the information you need to on your child’s sleep.
I provide free child and family sleep support on my Facebook page. I invite you to join our sleep community as I work towards Good Night Sleep Site's mission of a healthier rested family unit. For more sleep tips please visit Good Night Sleep Site and visit me on Instagram and Twitter.