Every mum knows that tiredness and young children is an unhappy mix. My cousin is a primary school teacher and she attributes at least 50% of today’s classroom discipline problems with lack of proper sleep.
Sadly, too many of today’s parents are either ignorant of how much sleep a child should get, or are too lazy or permissive to enforce it. Hence, we have the scenario my cousin regularly encounters, with yawning children who have been allowed to stay up way too late – and to watch television programmes entirely unsuitable for them.
Do you know when your child should go to bed? These are the recommendations of the UK’s National Health Service.
So let’s do the maths. Speaking personally, in order for them to be washed, dressed, go to the toilet, have a decent breakfast and arrive on time at school, I need the children to rise no later than 7am.
As you may know, I have a four-year-old and a six-year-old. For Katie, the NHS recommendation is 11.5 hours’ sleep, so that means a bedtime of no later than 7.30. However, I take that as a minimum and her actual bedtime is 6.30.
Likewise, with Jody, the NHS recommendation is a rather precise 10 hours and 45 minutes, which would put his bedtime at 8.15. However, his actual official bedtime is 7 o’clock. Again, I err on the side of caution. I think half an hour after his sister is plenty.
This does mean you have to be organised. The children have an early tea around 4.45, then can quietly play for half an hour. I don’t allow television at this time.
After that, it’s bathtime for both. I bath the children every night as I like good hygiene. They are still young enough to be done together and indeed for mummy to usually join them in the tub – one less job for me!
Afterwards it’s teeth, toilet and pyjamas, then downstairs for a bedtime story. At 6.30 sharp, Katie is taken up to bed, I hear her prayers and tuck her in – no more stories, no glass of water, lights out. The same process is repeated with Jody half an hour later.
Now, I’m not going to pretend that we don’t have the occasional battle over this. Both frequently moan about their friends being allowed to stay up later. And there are occasions when a sore bottom is needed before peace and quiet descends upstairs. But that’s just the reality of family life!
It’s important to stick to your guns. Bedtimes do not vary in this house. The result is children who are happy and alert, and ready to learn.
The added bonus is that parents will get the peace and quiet they need to recharge their batteries, behaviour will be better and far fewer spankings will be needed.
Contributor: Louise – formerly published on her blog The Spanking Mum. All opinions are those of the original author.