The beginning of any new year at school, nursery, pre-school can be really tiring for children – but this year even more so.
Children have been away from their care settings, their friends and other familiar adults for six long months – so heading back for a new year is a big step for them. Add in all the new rules, restrictions and changes brought about by Covid-19 – plus the additional anxiety that many will be feeling – and the new term can be really draining for little ones.
This emotional drain increases tiredness, which in turn alters your child’s quality and structure of sleep. This altered sleep can cause them to wake more often in the night and start their day very early, which only increases their tiredness further! Before you know it, your little one can quickly become over tired.
Over tiredness will mean that your little one could be more grumpy, tearful and sensitive, they could wake more frequently through the night, struggle to fall asleep for naps (if they take them), and start the day very early.
Here are The Sleep Sanctuary tips for managing over tiredness this new term:
My Top Tips for preventing over tiredness
- Allow some downtime. When your child comes home from any kind of childcare they are likely to be physically and emotionally tired – especially at the moment. Whilst you’re bursting to know about their day, they will need some downtime to rest and process the day. Try to provide some quiet space and a healthy snack and drink for when they get home. If you try to quiz them too soon you could be met with silence, a battle, or an emotional outburst.
- Early nights. Bring bedtime forward by 15 – 30 minutes for 4 consecutive nights to refill their sleep tank. It may seem like a small change, but it really will make a huge difference to their sleep structure and the overall quality of their sleep.
- Good old routine – I say it all the time, but make sure you are doing a very simple, calming bedtime routine to lead into a good sleep. Don’t make it too long or complicated, just 3 or 4 steps in the same order each night is fine. Perhaps a bedtime snack or milk feed (depending on their age), bath and teeth brush, story and cuddle. Don’t forget to make the sleep space calm and dimly lit with no bright lights, screens, music or entertainment.
- Snuggle up – Use bedtime as a chance to refill their love tank and feel emotionally secure. Have a cuddle, reconnect and let your child unload any thoughts or stories from the day. But do set a time limit in your mind and stick to it. Don’t allow them to talk for too long or become too animated. This is a calming wind down to clear their mind and feel your presence. Home life can be so busy, try to set aside this time to really focus on your child and their feelings – you’ll reap the rewards during the night and you’ll both feel better too! If your child is feeling very anxious, you could try using my favourite trick, a worry monster!
- Eat well – Make sure that the evening meal and any bedtime snacks are nutritious with plenty of slow release nutrients to sustain them overnight. Avoid processed and high sugar foods that will send them sky high when you are trying to settle them down. Bananas are an simple snack that are packed with relaxing potassium and magnesium that will improve the quality of your child’s sleep.
- Be understanding – The start of this new term is a particularly big change for children, and whilst they may seem fine, they are likely to be emotionally drained. Try to be a little more patient and understanding, particularly at the end of the day when everyone is tired. Prevent bedtime battles with kindness and understanding, but keep to your main house rules and limits. You can be kind without opening the flood gates to chaos.
- Review – Take a look at the weekly schedule and decide if it is just too busy for a small person to cope with. Most families I know dash between multiple activities each day and end up with overtired and emotional children (and frazzled parents). Do you need to do all of the activities and classes each week? Can you reduce the burden and prevent overtiredness anywhere? An overtired child won’t sleep well, and will simply become more and more overtired.
If your child is finding over tiredness a problem book a free 15-minute, no obligation call with me to discuss how I can help you and your child to enjoy better sleep by clicking here
Rachael, The Sleep Sanctuary
The Sleep Sanctuary is a Children’s Sleep Consultancy supporting tired parents to help their children sleep soundly and live healthier, happier lives. Find out how The Sleep Sanctuary can improve your child’s sleep at www.mysleepsanctuary.co.uk