I was so very excited to be invited to London this week to talk about sleep issues (Pickles and mine!) with none other than parenting guru and TV celebrity Jo Frost aka Super Nanny! I was invited by Tots 100 to talk about the Book Trusts great campaign #BathBookBed – simple steps to a better nights sleep, for which Jo is the ambassador.
We have been fans of Jo’s for years – my older children, especially my daughter Lea absolutely loves her and has sat glued to the TV in wonder as Jo transforms the most terribly behaved children into little angels.
It was a mega early start for me – my alarm went off soon after 1am so I could leave my house at 1.45am giving me time to drive to the station, park and catch the 3am train to London.
I arrived at 7.30am and had a lovely couple of hours in the sunshine sightseeing around Big Ben, The London Eye and Trafalgar Square before making my way to The Library – a truly beautiful building where I met with some other bloggers to chat about our children, parenting and of course sleep (or lack of it!).
We had a lovely brunch then went into another room to meet the lady herself.
Jo was warm, friendly and chatty. I was drawn to her immediately and can see why hundreds of families have invited her into their homes to help with a myriad of parenting issues.
Jo was genuinely interested in all of us, and we all introduced ourselves, our blogs and our children.
There was a huge range of sleep issues between us – mine being that Pickle, who has always been a really good sleeper (as were my other three) has become a little monkey at going to bed, currently it is taking at least an hour to get him to sleep.
As we talked, and I listened to Jo’s advice I felt a fog lift – what she was saying was so simple, but something that I had let lapse with Pickle. In a nutshell #BathBookBed or in other words, a stable regular routine. The same every night.
What also stuck with me was that prior to the winding down before bedtime, is to let him play – play with him, interact, let him have that time. Even if it means him going to bed 10 – 15 minutes later, he will have benefited greatly and be ready for bed.
I left the meeting absolutely buzzing – so happy to have been a part of this experience and to help promote this simple but so effective campaign. Jo is working with The Book Trust, a charity who are passionate about doing all they can to get children reading. They give out over 2 million books to this end. Jo was clearly thrilled to be their ambassador for this campaign – her passion for what she does just shone from her, it was refreshing and infectious.
I have decided to share with you some of Jo’s tips that particularly resonate with me and my situation , namely getting a lively tot to bed in the first place!
- Work backwards from the time you ideally want him asleep – allowing about an hour.
- Allow a little time for him to play before winding down. I know, I know, you are thinking WHAT?? I haven’t time for this – but one thing Jo made me realise is that consistency and routine is the key. Whatever routine you set – even if you only allow ten minutes to play before winding down, the key is to do it every night.
- Prepare the room – no music / TV, close the blinds /curtains. Differentiate the difference between day and night.
- You know your child better than anyone – any little rituals they like – a cuddle on your knee, a back rub, again, incorporate it into your nightly routine.
- If the routine slips – for whatever reason – it could be illness or a holiday, simply start again. Every routine has to be a little flexible. Don’t beat yourself up about it, just start again.
- When reading with your child let them interact and join in – again, in whatever way is particular to him.
- As part of the routine, make him feel safe and secure. Enter his world. Pickle does sometimes say he is scared. Instead of brushing it off with a ‘ oh there’s nothing to be scared of’ I need to ask him ‘what is it you are scared of?’ Then I can enter his world and remove it / zap it / blow it away – whatever it takes to show him it is gone.
- Give a verbal reward that he loves – at the moment with Pickle it is when I say how proud I am of him. His little face glows. Say to your child how happy / proud you feel when he sticks to the routine, by going to bed / staying in bed.
- Implement routine during the day, and it will follow much more naturally at night. Have a routine with meal times, naps, play time. This leads easily into wind down town and #BathBookBed
- Explain to them how they need sleep – we all do – to rest, and get us ready for the next day, to give us the energy to play and have a great day.
The other big thing that I will take from meeting Jo is to trust my instinct. To trust what I know inside. As well as the refreshing admittance that it will go wrong. It will mess up, and that’s ok. It is ok to be done with today – tomorrow is another day. Just get back to it. And, be realistic in your expectation of raising your child. Jo also made clear that #BathBookBed is nothing new. Parents have been doing it for an age. It just seems it has become a bit forgotten and the message needs to be put out there to people.
One last note is that Jo talked about who we are doing it for? The cuddles in the night, the midnight feed, if you are giving your child what YOU want beyond what they NEED ask yourself why. You might be fearful of breaking or losing that bond – after all it feels so nice when your little one needs you doesn’t it?
I know more than anyone that it does. I have realised that I love the cuddles in the night and especially first thing in the morning, I love Pickle being in bed with me. I know he loves it too, but this has made me think about who am I really doing it for?
Thanks so much Jo, you have given me lots to think about, as well as your fab new book, and a goody bag to help us with our new routine. I will let you know how we get on.
How is bedtime in your house?
The Book Trust is proud to have Jo Frost working with them as the ambassador for #BathBookBed and it’s brilliant website with lots of tips and advice is where you can sign up for Book Bath Bed : 14 Days to better sleep. Why not sign up and see how it can help you and your family?
Jo Frost says:
‘All parents worry about getting young children to sleep at night – and of course getting enough sleep themselves. It doesn’t require complicated regimes, toys or gizmos. A simple routine is the best way to get your little one ready to visit the land of nod. Bath, Book, Bed is all you need to remember.’