Childrearing

Time For A New Bedtime Routine?

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My daughter and I love a good schedule. We appreciate and enjoy our routine. Unless we have something planned for the evening, nights at home go like this:

5:15 – Daycare pick-up

5:30 – Start cooking

6:00 – Family dinner

6:30 – Playtime

7:30 – Bath

7:45 – Cuddle time, which normally includes some blankets, a snack and an episode of Wild Kratts

8:15 – Story time

8:45 – Sweet dreams

That describes roughly 85% of our evenings. I don’t actually wear a watch and try to enforce this schedule, it’s just the basic progression of our evening. I always thought that our routine was pretty standard. But according to a new study in Pediatrics,television after 7pm can cause sleep problems in children, especially if they are watching violent programming. While the Kratt Brothers don’t really get violent, I’m still definitely a culprit here. On a nightly basis, we sit down to a little boob tube right before bed.

I’m feeling especially out-of-touch. The lead author, Dr. Michelle Garrison, says that some parents “mistakenly believe that watching TV will help their kids sleep”. Up until an hour ago, I might have been one of those parents. I don’t necessarily believe that TV itself helps put my daughter to bed, but I honestly thought that sitting down and watching a short program helped us wind down, as a family. My daughter tends to be a go-go-go kind of person, our playtime is pretty involved and intense. I thought that sitting down and relaxing gave her time to decompress before she actually went to bed.

The study wasn’t in depth enough to determine why TV causes sleeping problems in children. Experts assume that television stimulates children, and say that the study only proves what their experience has taught them through sleep studies.  There’s also the possibility that poor sleepers, since they stay up later, tend to watch more TV. The most surprising bit of information for me was the statistic that at least 25% of pre-school children have a TV in their bedroom. I, as a grown woman, don’t even have a TV in my bedroom. I simply can’t imagine providing one for my daughter. But I bet there are other parents out there who simply can’t imagine letting their child watch TV right before bedtime. And they’d be completely correct! My point is, until we know it’s a problem, lots of make choices that other people wouldn’t dream of.

None of us are perfect parents. We all do things that conventional wisdom may not agree with. I don’t think that I’m a horrible parent simply because I let my daughter have a little screen time at the end of her day. But when I’m faced with scientific data that says I might be harming my little girl, it’s time to adjust our routine. Let’s hope my daughter isn’t too resistant to change.

(Photo: Better Parenting)