If you or your child are experiencing sleep problems as of late you are not alone. The uncertainty, stress and chaos of the Covid-19 pandemic is affecting us all in so many ways, many of which we may not even be aware. As parents, our comforting schedules and routines have been replaced by efforts to simply survive with our sanity (somewhat) intact.
I am hearing from families across the nation who are experiencing sleep disruptions in children of all ages, as well as in the parents themselves. Sleep, however, is more important than ever as we try to bolster our bodies immune systems and combat the daily drain of functioning in this new world. While interrupted sleep is a normal side effect of this intensely stressful situation, there are some things you can do to help you family sleep better.
*Get back to basics. Take some time to check in with your routine, schedule, and environment and do your best to get back on track. We know that children thrive on structure and while it may be tempting to relax your healthy sleep habits, it can have a negative effect on your child’s sleep. Your bedtime routine can be the most comforting part of your child’s day. Take the time focus on a routine that allows you to soothe and connect with your child. Being truly present for those few minutes before bedtime can make all the difference in children of every age.
*Control what you can and let go of the rest. Aim for bedtime, wake time and nap time to be the same each day. So much about our days have changed whether you are working from home, home schooling or caring for your new baby without your support network; focusing on the small, doable things can really help. A consistent schedule ensures our bodies get the rest we need to stay well physically and emotionally.
*Check your own anxiety and stress levels. Whether we realize it or not, our anxiety and stress is easily transferred to our little ones. Do your best to keep your stress levels in check- watch less news, practice self-care, try to shift your perspective to embrace the chaos a bit. If you are feeling out of control seek extra support via online chats with friends, family or a therapist.
*Be patient. Everyone reacts differently to stress. The increased meltdowns, clinginess, difficulty falling asleep, and waking with nightmares all point to the fact that our children are dealing with some big emotions. As for parents, our frustration tolerance maybe lower as we are asked to wear more hats and take on more tasks all while keeping our cool. Give your child and yourself a break and acknowledge that we are in unchartered territory – there is no normal right now and that is ok. Allow your child and yourself the space to not be ok.
With everything going on in the world, sleep is more important than ever. Making sleep a priority for everyone in your family can help you weather the storm and stay healthy. Stay safe everyone!