The ‘kettle in the fridge’ phenomena of sleep deprived parents
Kids are adorable, but they can also cause a serious lack of sleep in many families!
A blissful, interrupted 8-hours can feel like an impossible pipedream when you factor in the fact that infants (and in many cases, even older kids) can awaken parents every few hours—and that’s if they can get to sleep in the first place.
Lack of sleep can really take its toll on households, but we are going to share some proven strategies that can help get everyone enough zzz’s to function again.
Because, while the sort of sleep deprivation that many families go through can make for some funny tales, it can also actually create some worrying effects. Therefore, it is important to take it seriously, but to also cut yourself some slack if you’re currently chugging down your 3rd coffee for the day.
How lack of sleep can take its toll on households and what you can do about it
For any parent who has watched the clock waiting for their kids to go to sleep in the evening, or been woken up multiple times in the night, the effects of sleep deprivation will be well know already.
When chatting to other parents, we often hear some rather funny moments that have come about due to the ‘zombie effect’ that sleep deprivation causes.
One rather tired Mum admitted she once bumped into a mannequin at the shops and said, “excuse me”!! We’ve also heard one rather frazzled Dad say that he put a plate in the microwave without any food on .
And, we’ve heard of so many parents putting the kettle in the fridge or the milk into the pantry!
Harmless stories, yes. But sleep-deprivation can cause more serious problems for some of us.
Without sleep it’s very hard to be attuned to our kids, and to provide them with the attention and positive parenting they need, especially in stressful situations.
Without sleep, you will find yourself short on patience, and might find yourself replacing love and gentleness with anger.
Some research even claims that driving sleep-deprived is worse than driving drunk.
Now, it’s important here to point out that there is no medical research that associates sleep deprivation with poor parenting so please don’t panic. It’s just that sleep deprivation makes everything so much harder, and everyone so much crankier!
Sleep deprivation is not just bad for the parents. Our kids suffer too if they are not getting enough restful sleep.
If our kids don’t get enough sleep, there is increased risk of obesity, and they can be more prone to more colds as their immune systems are running on low.
Conversely, getting enough sleep helps to improve school performance because it helps with attention span and memory. A good night’s sleep also helps your kids succeed , as sleep can promote better emotional control, decision making, and social interactions.
How can you help your child to form better sleep habits
To help your kiddo form better sleep habits that will serve them well now, but also throughout their whole lives, it is a good idea to help them create some bedtime rituals.
1. Re-evaluate your child’s bedtime
Sleep research amongst children often finds that when parents try to put their kids to sleep too early, they report far more settling difficulties. This indicates that sometimes the problems are not the child, but rather the expectation of an early bedtime by the parents. Simply pushing bedtime back and letting children find their own rhythm may alleviate some of the night-time struggles parents have.
2. Help them unpack their day
At bedtime, try to encourage your child to talk to you about whatever is on their mind - but agree on a time limit or this could turn into a lengthy session! Alternatively, if they are old enough you could encourage them to write in a journal before going to sleep.
3. Keep any security objects nearby
Some kids need the security of a familiar item nearby. The sense of touch is something that reminds them they are not alone when the lights go out. This is where our Muluzu Pillowcase Pals work beautifully.
4. Limit screen time
Yes, yes, I know! We are all guilty of letting our kids use the iPad or TV a little more than is perhaps healthy. Even as adults, we need to check our screen time, right?!
I am not saying throw out the iPad or ban the TV because screen time certainly has its place in modern family life and in our children’s future.
But it will help if you can limit screen time in the evenings and have enough screen-free time to allow for winding down before bed.
5. Encourage daily exercise
Research repeatedly shows us that kids who participate in more vigorous exercise can fall asleep much faster than those with sedentary lifestyles.
Therefore, if you can build in daily exercise into your child’s day, they are likely to sleep much better. This could be in the form of structured sport, but it can also just be basic jumping, running, crawling.
This is your green light to have some fun! You could play some hide and seek or put on some music to dance to. Just bear in mind that while exercise is great, children should avoid it directly before bed.
6. Create sleep-friendly bedrooms
Our bedrooms should be kept dark and relatively tidy. A messy bedroom is just too distracting for most kids. Why would they want to sleep when their favourite doll/train/video game is right there?! So, if you can help your child keep their room tidy, you can help promote better sleep. And a tidy room makes it much easier to find their favourite snuggle toy or pillow too!
Better bedtime routines
If you want some more tips for better sleep routines, check out my suggestions here in my previous blog.
With just a few tweaks to your family bedtime routines, your entire household can soon be feeling calm and well-rested after a great nights’ sleep, night after night. Feel free to browse our kids pillowcases here or send us a message if you need help with some soothing, sensory bedtime Pillowcase Pals.