I absolutely loved my years working as a Nanny, it was so fulfilling and rewarding and I built up a bond with the families I worked for. At the time I had no children of my own and relied on my instincts and training for the more difficult of situations – common sense obviously had a lot to do with it too.
Most of the time it was the best job in the world, other times it could be lonely especially when I was working another evening and missing another weekend, but nobody every said it was an easy job. Essentially I had all the roles of a parent without being one, and most of the time I got to go home in the evenings and have a break.
After a very long day (Nannies tend to work long hours – I did 7am – 7.30pm but would babysit at least once or twice a week) perhaps one of the most important aspects of Nannying is being able to get the kids tucked into bed by the time mum and dad return home, if that is part of your job, some of course want them awake for when they return from work – this just depends on the family. It can also be one of the biggest challenges for newbie Nannies because they are used to doing it.
When I was working the parents used to ask me for advice on how to settle them easily and how I got away with not staying in their bedrooms until they were asleep – and I would share my secrets.
Now I am re-sharing them here so that I can read over them again because now I am a parent, I have a 6 year old who won’t settle or sleep at night so before tearing out my hair I am hoping to re-evaluate our bedtime routine again and go back to my Nanny days. As a parent I am exhausted and too soft…..and that now need to stop and change!
If you have a child that just plain won’t settle down, consider some the steps you can take to help them get to bed faster.
Comfort is Key
Simply put, you need to create the perfect environment if you want a child to sleep soundly. In the case that your clients are new parents, they may not exactly know how to make it happen themselves; however, there are a few small tweaks you can make to any given bedroom to help.
For starters, consider the subtle details of the bedroom including:
- Pillows: if a child can’t seem to get cosy, suggest different sleeping positions or perhaps try out a soft between-the-knee-pillow to encourage side-sleeping
- Lighting: although a pitch black environment helps us sleep, some children may benefit from a soft nightlight to help ease any fears of the dark
- Noise: once you put a child to bed, you need to make sure you’re not doing anything to potentially disturb them, such as watching television with the volume turned all the way up
Although it may be difficult for new Nannies to find their footing, you absolutely must be firm when it’s bedtime. Don’t budge or differentiate from the instructions of the parents, and likewise don’t tolerate temper tantrums. If you stick to your guns the chances are the child will wear out before long.
Don’t Neglect Food and Drink
What children eat and drink before bed can have a huge impact on whether or not they actually calm down when it’s bedtime. For example, you should avoid anything with excessive sugar (fruit juices or candy) as well as anything that could potentially upset their stomach (rich deserts or salty dishes). On the flip side, warm milk is often considered the go-to solution for babysitters looking to help their kids conk out. Banana’s and Peanut Butter are also good sleep inducing foods/
Avoid Excessive Playtime Before Bed
Conventional wisdom says that you should strive to wear your kids out, which makes sense to a certain extent. However, you should try to restrict intense playtime and running around about an hour before bedtime. While you should try to wear them down during the day, give them some downtime to relax and prepare for bed accordingly.
Don’t stress out or raise your voice as this can upset the children and you’ll be back to square one again
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