Put your habits on the back burner and carve out a proper bedtime routine for your children

Unsurprisingly a link has been found between strict bedtime routines and
intellectual performance

Share

Do we really need research from a medical journal to tell us
that small children need early bedtimes, and above all a regular bedtime
routine?

Such is my Pavlovian response to the Wombles’ theme tune, played throughout the 1970s at 6pm, that when I occasionally hear it now, I yearn to get undressed and climb into a bath.

Children’s TV still reflects this crucial daily juncture; witness Iggle Piggle settling down en route to the land of Nod in the surreal In The Night Garden.

Indeed, so enjoyable was my own routine set up by myself for my own offspring, that I have sort of been hoist by my own petard by it, since with four, it now takes about two hours to complete, and the younger three still insist on it. Every night. In fact, bedtime for my children was one of the reasons I reluctantly knocked my fledgling career as a theatre critic on the head. Being out at the theatre four times a week, every week, was ruinous to “Milk and Story” as my kids call it.

On the plus side, I now have a seriously hot knowledge of  children’s literature, as I have ploughed through everything,  from JD Salinger to Laura Ingalls Wilder by way of David Walliams. 

Now I can smugly reassure myself that showbiz’ loss (ha ha) is my children’s gain, since the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, which surveyed the lifestyles of over 10,000 children born between September 2000 and January 2002, has found a link between strict bedtime routines and intellectual performance.

The older the child, the less marked the difference, but generally speaking, the authors found that consistent bedtimes are linked to cognitive development.

About which I think there are two things to say. First, if you are not a theatre critic, or working nights, carve out a proper routine for your children. Turn your phone off and devote 20 minutes to the task. Every night. Yes, even weekends. Going out? Order the babysitter to do it. Choose books you loved when you were young. Have the confidence to abandon things you hate. (I couldn’t get along with The Wind in the Willows). Sing a song. Read a poem. (Michael Rosen is a one-man treasure trove).

Second,  put your own routine on the back burner. We are all now so focused on the ghastly notion of “Me Time”, because we are “worth it” that the deeply sad spectre of thousands of small children actually putting themselves to bed at any old time, now seems to be a reality. Yes, snapping off back to back Simpsons, and climbing up the stairs to read the somewhat tiresome Tales from Narnia is not as obviously engaging as pouring a glass of red and messing around on Twitter, but laying down a routine which will help your children’s brains develop properly, seems to me to be as crucial as buying them shoes which fit.

Twitter: @rosiemillard

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Women are working in some of the lowest-paid sectors such as cleaning, catering and caring  

Women's wages have gone backwards. Labour would give women the pay they deserve

Gloria de Piero
 

Taking on Ukip requires a delicate balancing act for both main parties

Andrew Grice
Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?