We can not live without it! Sleep. We all know how grouchy we get when we do not get enough sleep. We all know the child who doesn’t want to settle into sleep, even though they need their sleep. We all know the challenges that come with over tired children.
But if we think with our empathetic eyes and we put ourselves in the shoes and 'beds' of where our children sleep in our centres we start to get an understanding of why maybe there are sleeping issues.
We have put so much money into activities and toys and the crazy thing is sleep deprived and tired children will not play!
Lets put our energy and thought into the things that are critical to emotionally satisfied children - care, sleep and nature! It’s then we will see rich and authentic play no toy out of a catalogue can provide.
Here are some thoughts:
What message does your sleep area convey?
Would you leap into the bed and sleep on and in the bed and bedding that the children sleep in?( ignore the size)
Children in childcare are in a sense having a 'slumber party', daily! We know when we have had overnights in our student years, our sleep was hugely affected. Well, this is one of the first challenges children have. Not just one day a year. They have this challenge every day that they are in the centre.
Some children's most permanent place of sleep is in the bed or space space at your place.
Does it feel like home?
How much energy and planning goes into children having a peaceful sleep? Is it an institutional 'sleep room' or is it a homely bedroom? How comfy would you feel if it was your bedroom?
As a team have you spent time, thought and energy into really transforming this space? Have you injected it with beauty and softened it?
Have you created a personal space, giving them their own hand made bedding, pure cotton sheets, hot water bottles with hand knitted covers in the winter, fresh lavender room sprays, fresh flowers, you get the picture.
Is there a way children can sleep outside? Create a space where they can have fresh air and see and feel the difference in the quality of their sleep.
Treat sleep areas with the same care and nurture as other spaces. Remember if you are deprived of sleep you do not really feel as up to 'going out'. Children deprived of good quality peaceful sleep will not be as inclined to play with such zest.
So many meetings are taken up with stressful discussions and the issues around children's sleep. Take a different approach.
As a team ask yourselves some of the reflective questions from above and if the space or the bed/bedding is not inviting or comfy then transform this to a place that you would all sleep and then watch, wait and see the transformation with children's sleep and rest times.
What CAN you do?
We understand that there are some things you do not have control over but there are also some things that you have full power and control over changing. So let's take the power over what you can do. You can home-i-tise the clinical sleep rooms.
When we continue to hold the child as the heart of the matter we design through our heart and it is a change for love. Love of the children.
One of the things you can do is starting with the ritual. If you have a lovely slow and peaceful ritual prior to the sleep/ rest then this is the perfect foundation for good sleep. Preparation in the head, heart and hands is key, as is a rhythm of how it is set daily. All in the team need to know how it is set and how the space is created, with the beds always in the same place with their own linen. It is not so much the room. It is the ritual and feeling created in the space.
Without a doubt, safety is critical. Safety and homely can be partnered beautifully and thoughtfully. Look at what you can do, not what you can’t do.