Unfortunately, the transition from toddler to school kid is often overlooked in the bedroom. Where distractions such as mountains of plush toys and stacks of games were once the things that saved your sanity, you now need to think twice about whether they will help or hinder your child’s schooling.
In an ideal world there would be a place for your child to study, a place to play and a place to sleep but assuming you don’t live in a mansion, here are some tips to transform a toy room with a bed in it into a sanctuary.
In the bed
Apart from the obvious traits—clean and comfortable—make sure your child’s bed isn’t overcrowded with soft toys. This will encourage better breathing during sleep as well as reduce distractions while you’re trying to impose bedtime. Consider a toy hammock to lift them off the covers. Of course one Ted can stay!
It’s best to have the room as dark as possible to support deeper sleep but if your child is afraid of the dark, or tends to wake up during the night to go to the bathroom, have a light within reach of the bed, either a touch lamp they can turn on easily or a nightlight with a soft glow.
In the room
Be clear about which areas are for doing homework and playing in, and which area is for sleeping in. This will help discourage distractions when it’s time for bed.
Unless the outside of your house is very bright at night (due to streetlights and passing cars or a neighbour’s porch light), keep the blinds and curtains at least partially open. Natural light at waking time helps set your child’s body clock to a beneficial circadian rhythm and it’s less disruptive than jolting them out of sleep in the morning.
White noise or gentle music is often a good tool to help children sleep. Consider playing a few lullabies at a low volume from a stereo in the room.
In the house
I probably don’t have to tell you this, but keep noise levels to a minimum and try not to turn on the light outside your child’s door too often.
Good habits are just as important as sleep accessories, so encourage a routine with regular sleep and waking times and a ritual that will help lull them as smoothly as possible: perhaps a warm bath, brushing teeth and going to the bathroom before bed, a bit of reading followed by lights out.
Mumgo parenting ambassador, Lisa Creffield is a writer and mother-of-one who believes that a wonderful childhood is the best foundation for the future. Whether you’re a working parent or a stay-at-home parent on a tight budget, she has a wealth of imaginative ideas to help you achieve the best for your family. www.mumgo.com.au