Sleep is important at every stage of life; there won’t be a single day that goes by where you won’t feel the consequences of it. But perhaps the most important stage of life where good sleep is paramount to good functioning and growth is during the youngest years.
In recognition of this, and as part of our annual October Sleep Month celebrations, we’ve invited a range of bloggers and lifestyle coaches to collaborate on some very exciting projects. And this week, we enjoyed the fantastic opportunity to sit down with none other than blogger, former dancer and Mummy of two Chloe Gill.
Chloe and her husband JB Gill have two beautiful children together, a boy aged 6, and a girl aged 2, and having cultivated a highly detailed online platform which documents her journey as a mother, we couldn’t have asked anyone better to share sleep advice for young children. And if there’s one thing that Chloe swears by for a positive nighttime experience for her children, it’s a routine.
“Children love to have structure” Chloe tell us. To put this into practice, her children follow a cookie-cutter timetable every night in the run-up to their bedtime. This starts with absolutely no screen time from 5:30pm onwards, as the blue light from digital displays acts as a known catalyst towards insomnia. This is also usually the time that she’ll sit down with her husband and their children as a family to eat dinner; setting the peaceful precedent for the rest of the evening ahead.
Once the plates are cleared from the table, the water usually starts flowing into the bathtub upstairs. “Although they’re four years apart, my children really like to carry out their nighttime routine together, it helps them to understand and acknowledge the routine itself” Chloe continues. A bath is usually followed by a reading from one of their favourite books which, no matter what age you are, always helps to calm the mind in the run-up to sleep.
And this is one aspect that Chloe holds above all else - mental health. “Just before it’s lights out, I like to sit with my children for a moment, just to reassure them that it’s ok to feel tired; that it’s ok to go to sleep. I like to give them the opportunity to open up to me, so that there’s nothing on their mind that might keep them awake.” A positive mindset is something that Chloe and her husband have instilled in their children from a young age, as it will likely manifest itself at every level of their life, including during their sleep.
The very last thing that Chloe and her children do before lights out at 7:30pm is pray, so that they can be thankful for the day, whilst building their personal relationship with God.
Chloe admits that once those lights are out, and everyone is tightly tucked in, that her children are rarely disturbed during their sleep, and she accredits their strong nighttime routine to this.
But whilst what happens during the final hours of their day is important for how they sleep, so too are their activities throughout the entire day. Luckily, Chloe and her husband run a farm, so her children are naturally exposed to an abundance of fresh air during the day. And although it’s important to make your children physically tired and in need of rest, it’s equally important to make them mentally tired too. It comes back to the idea that our mental health and our sleep are more closely linked than we realise; and that understanding this relationship is the key to benefitting from good rest.
If you’re currently guiding two young children through the first stages of their life, you’ll probably be more than aware that sometimes children can’t make it to bedtime, and that sometimes their bodies demand sleep during the day. To accommodate the need for napping, Chloe recommends reading your child’s body, and understanding what’s best for them at that time. “When he was younger, my son needed to be rocked to sleep if he needed to nap during the day, however, my little girl will often settle herself if left alone. It’s all in understanding what exactly their needs are, and I recommend always having a dark and quiet space to hand to allow for a peaceful napping period.” However, Chloe also stressed the importance of regulating daytime naps, as too often will only cause further disruption.
If your child is struggling with a bedtime routine, please don’t let your worries get the better of you. There’s no how-to guide when trying to get your child to sleep at night; and because no two children are the same, everyone’s experience is bound to be different. With two children by her side, if there’s one thing that Chloe would like our readers to remember, it’s that patience is worth every penny towards your child’s sleep. “However you approach the situation, just be sure that you leave any negativity at the bedroom door, otherwise your children will absorb your bad mood like a sponge” Chloe continues, “and this will only further contribute towards disrupted sleep”.
So keep calm, recognise what your child’s needs are, try to set out a nighttime routine, and try to stick to it as much as possible, and we promise that the process will get easier with each passing night.
Thank you so much to Chloe Gill for agreeing to sit down with us, and for sharing your expert sleeping tips for children. And don’t forget to stay tuned for the rest of our October Sleep Month celebrations; we’ve got lots of exciting offers, products and stories to share with you!