Is Bedtime A Nightmare With Your Kids? These Tricks May Help.

No child likes being told it’s bedtime- in fact, these are the words that most kids absolutely dread! When you’re young, all you want is the freedom to stay up and have fun. But as parents, we of course know that this isn’t what’s best and that sleep absolutely has to be a priority for kids to grow and thrive. If you’re struggling with bedtime and your kids are driving you insane each evening, here are a few things to try.

Tired Little O after a busy day.


Tire Them Out During The Day

Government guidelines suggest that kids need around an hour of moderate to vigorous activity every day to keep them fit and healthy. And as a bonus, kids who are tired out are likely to sleep far better at night. Take them to the park after school where they can run around and burn off energy if you bring bikes, a ball or a frisbee they’re sure to wear themselves out. Alternatively, you could sign them up for active hobbies, swimming and other sports classes will be so much fun it won’t even feel like a workout. They’ll get their recommended amount of exercise and bedtime is likely to go that bit smoother. 

We have started taking to the girls to our local big football field most afternoons, just before dinner. They come home, eat all of their food because all that running around also makes them hungry), and they fall asleep quickly with nice full tummies.

Stick to a Bedtime Routine

If you have a routine that you stick to every evening, your child knows that bedtime is coming and is likely to be more accepting. If they’re having fun in the middle of a game and bedtime is announced seemingly out of the blue, you’re probably going to have a tantrum on your hands. If your child knows that after homework and a bath comes supper, a story and bed for example you’re likely to have a much easier time. It’s worth giving kids a warning that bedtime is approaching for this reason since younger children will find it difficult to grasp how long five or ten minutes is, you could say ‘it’s bedtime after this show’ or use another measurement which they will understand.

Buy The Comfiest Bed Possible

Since children are so light, it can be tempting to think they don’t need a particularly expensive mattress. But kids growing bodies need more support than you might think, and a decent mattress and bed is necessary for this. Luxury brands like John Ryan by Design will provide comfort and quality that will last for years and ensure your little one is getting the best night’s rest possible. Comfy bedding is a must too, high-quality cotton will be soft to the touch and help to regulate temperature. Hypo allergenic duvets and pillows will be free of chemicals and materials that can cause a reaction in some people. Perfect for kids who are more vulnerable to these things.

If your child still occasionally wets the bed, be sure to use a protective sheet. These have come a long way in recent years and are no longer the noisy, plasticky things they once were. In fact they look a lot like a normal sheet but will protect the expensive mattress in case of an accident. We always make sure there is a double-up of these sheets, covering the full length of the bed. It’s surprising how far urine (and even sick!) can spread, if they are having an ‘off’ day. We also have mattresses that have clever, thick covers that easily zip on and off


Try Using a Nightlight and Blackout Blinds

Sleeping on their own in their own room can be scary for some children. If bedtime is a nightmare for you because they are too scared to sleep in the dark and keep getting up, how about trying out a nightlight? The soft glow shouldn’t keep them awake, and it can light up the room just enough so that the dark isn’t scary. You can buy nightlights which switch off after a certain amount of time too, so once they’ve drifted off, you don’t have to creep into their room to turn off the light and risk waking them.

A gentle nightlight won’t wake yur child but the slightest ray of daylight can. If you struggle to get your child down at night, or they wake early during the summer months it could be down to sunlight entering their room. We purchased some blackout blinds from Argos (only cheap ones!) and they have worked wonders. Day light triggers the body to produce chemicals, which wakes the body up.

Stay Patient

Kids can be incredibly frustrating- these little people have big personalities and aren’t afraid to tell you if they’re unhappy. Kids will act out at times, you might be up and down the stairs multiple times some nights and feel at the end of your tether. But stay patient, once they know they won’t get a reaction from you, they might be less inclined to try it.

Are you currently dealing with any bedtime dramas or dilemmas? What tips would you give to parents going through the same thing?


Talking To Your Children About Dementia

Dementia; It can be a really tough subject to talk about whatever your age and even more so when talking to small children about the subject.

I used to work as a HCA in a residential care home where most of its residents suffered from Dementia or Alzheimer’s. Everyday we saw our residents becoming lost and confused, families devastated and heartbroken and some tough decisions being made. My grandfather developed Dementia in the last few years of his life. He went from forgetting where he put the dog leads to not knowing who we were and suffering from the most awful hallucinations. Seeing a family member deteriorate so quickly can be heart breaking, especially when it feels like that there is nothing that you can do.


What is Dementia?

Dementia is a syndrome associated with an ongoing decline of the brain and it’s abilities. This includes problems with:

  • Memory loss
  • Thinking speed
  • Mental ability
  • Language
  • Understanding
  • Judgement

Sufferers can become agitated, depressed, withdrawn and have problems controlling their emotions. People with dementia can also suffer from hallucinations, seeing and hearing things that are not really there. This can be traumatic for the sufferer and to those who witness the people having  the hallucinations.

Dementia can start as simple basic memory loss and confusion and it is important to take note if yourself, a friend or loved one starts to forget things more often. It can be easily missed in the early stages and dismissed as a ‘brain fog’ moment. If you suspect memory loss or confusion get the affected person to see a GP as soon as possible. Try not to be panicked as there can be other health problems that can mimic the early stages of dementia- water infections and depression for example.

Who Gets Dementia?

There are approximately 800,000 people living in the UK with dementia, and an estimated 36 million people worldwide. The population of the UK is growing fast, and our life expectancy is also rising. With more people living longer, pressures will only increase on the care sector, families and society when it comes to helping dementia sufferers. It’s currently Dementia Awareness Week (14th-20th May 2017) and you can find out more about this very special awareness week here.

Most people living with Dementia are over the age of 65, but sometimes a person who is younger can get dementia, but this does not happen very often. Most older people don’t get dementia, and just because a relative may have suffered from dementia it does not mean that you will.

Keep Active

Active Minds is a wonderful brand working with companies and charity organisations providing enjoyable activities for people living with dementia. They have been researching, designing and developing activity products to assist people living with dementia to help them lead an active, engaging and fulfilling life. People living in care homes can offer suffer from depression, boredom and loneliness. Seeing residents developing these problems can be awful to witness and many people struggle to understand how to ease these problems. Many care homes hire activity co-ordinators to work in the home, a wonderful and heartfelt job role, but it is often the families who would like to get more involved when it comes to making their relative’s elderly years more fulfilling.

Talking To Children About  Dementia

Many children will be very confused when it comes to trying to understand Dementia (heck, even adults can be confused by the subject!) making it even more important that we approach the subject with care, honesty and in a loving and often humorous manner. While it can feel strange making the subject of dementia a light hearted one, this is often the best way to teach children about something and even more so when it is about a sensitive and rather daunting subject.

With the help of Active Minds, I sat at the kitchen table and had a heartfelt chat with my kids about Dementia. I have 3 small children aged 5, 4, and 2. I only really expected the 5 year old to understand what I was talking to them about, but there is certainly no harm in making the subject a family activity, involving the smaller kids. We had a packet of Forget-Me-Not seeds on the table, lots of fun decorating items, a plant pot and a watering can to decorate. My plan was to talk about Dementia and how it can make people forget things- hence the Forget-Me-Not seeds! While the kids painted, splashed glitter across the table and argued over stickers I would engage in conversation about this tricky subject.

How we started our conversation…

Mummy (me)- Girls, when you were babies you couldn’t walk, talk, eat or go to the toilet. You had to learn how to do all of these things! I had to help you all lots. I still have to help you all sometimes, even though you’re getting bigger. You learn how to do things because your brain has to grow and remember how to do those things. Can you think of anything else that your brain helps you to do?

Willow- I have to remember things at school, like how to spell things properly. And I will have to learn how to tie my laces one day.

Olive- I need to learn how to ride a bike. I’ll need little wheels to help at first.

Ivy- *she’s sat painting… her brain is currently working on learning that important hand-eye coordination*

ivy painting

This is a fabulous conversation starter. You can talk about how our brains can remember lots and lots of things, mostly things we do in day to day life.

When tackling an emotional subject such as dementia, keep small children positive. Keep playing with them, whilst you discuss the subject. Painting our plant pots, was the perfect distraction, but kept them listening to me at the same time.

Me- Some older people get something called Dementia. It means that even though they learnt lots of things when they were younger, their brain starts to forget these things. These older people can find it hard to do things that they used to do when they were young.

Willow- Like going to the toilet?

Me- Exactly! Mummy used to work as a carer. I used to help look after people who had dementia. That meant helping people onto the toilet!

Olive- You help Ivy on the toilet.

Me- That’s right. I also had to help people eat their dinner, get dressed and play games.

Willow- Did you paint their nails?

Me- I did if they asked me to! It made them feel fabulous and pretty.

olive pot

When talking to small children, it helps to keep things short and sweet. Talking about something for too long can become boring and often stressful for the child, especially when discussing something so emotional.

Older children could work on extra activities about Dementia.Help them create a mind-map about all of the things that their brain has learnt, and how they would feel if they forgot how to do those things. Getting them to think about how it would feel to have Dementia, builds on compassion and understanding.

Think of activities that you could spend time doing, with a person who has Dementia. Active Minds has lots of wonderful activities that are specifically designed to help and engage with people who suffer from Dementia. Talking to a person with Dementia about the memories that you share together, play them their favourite music (I knew a lady who wouldn’t speak, but when she sat in her room and listened to her favourite music she would sing along to every word on the CD. That was all she would ever say.) Watch their favourite classic movie, play together with puzzles, board games or look through old photographs together. Even the most simple of activities can lift them from a dark place and make them feel normal again, even if just for a very short time. I used to do residents hair, nails and make up for the ladies, and I have been known to sit and discuss Navy boats and football with the boys!

My girls are now aware of Dementia and what it means, who it affects, how it makes sufferers feel and what we can do to help, all in very basic terms. I shall revisit the subject again in a few years and go pay a visit to my old colleagues with the kids, so they can go and meet (and have fun!) with some of the residents. I hope that my children never fear or feel embarrassed around people with Dementia. I hope that they will respect and show love to those who may be feeling alone and vulnerable when living with this condition.

How will you talk to your kids about Dementia? Do you have any fun activities that you love doing with those you love who suffer from Dementia? Let me know in the comments box!

We shall be planting our forget-me-nots and taking them to the local care home for the residents to enjoy!
We shall be planting our forget-me-nots and taking them to the local care home for the residents to enjoy!