As more parents now return to work after having children, many of them can see their own health and wellbeing struggling as they juggle a full time job on lack of sleep.
Getting the kids to sleep can be a real nightmare for parents, with 1 in 3 UK parents saying that they struggle with the bedtime routine. 1 in 7 claim that their child’s bedtime routine makes them late for work in a morning.
Is there anything that employers could be doing to help?
Advice for tired parents
Sometimes it can be challenging to get children into a routine, but helping little ones sleep will help improve sleep for the whole household.
Following a survey of 2,000 UK parents Blinds-Hut revealed the top five things that parents say helps make bedtimes easier. Vicki Dawson, founder of The Children’s Sleep Charity gives her advice on these techniques, as recommended by parents.
- Bedtime stories (61%)
Bedtime stories are a great way to end the day and the perfect end to a good bedtime routine. Make sure that the story isn’t scary though before you start reading.
- Strict routine (56%)
Routines are really important to help to support your child’s body clock and regulate their sleep time. Doing the same thing at the same time each night is really helpful to prepare the mind and body for sleep.
- Black out blinds (50%)
Having consistent conditions during the night help us to sleep better. Black out blinds can help to keep lighting consistent throughout the night and are particularly useful during the summer months when light mornings can wake some children in the early hours.
- Technology blackout (40%)
Screen activities before bed can lead to difficulties falling asleep for some children. The light omitted by screens can interfere with the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Screen activities are best avoided in the hour leading up to bedtime.
- Night light (37%)
Some children find having a night light is reassuring. Children with visual and hearing impairments can also find that a night light helps them to feel more secure in the environment. If you use a night light then keep it on consistently all night.
How employers can be supportive:
It’s obvious that employers aren’t responsible for the bedtime routines of their employees or their children, but if staff are tired their performance and wellbeing will suffer.
As more progressive employers move towards helping their staff reach a good work/life balance, many employers have used the following initiatives in order to support busy working parents juggling their work and family lives:
- Remote working
Remote working can allow parents the extra time in a morning to organise the family and get them ready for playgroup, nursery or school. They save time on the commute and can even work from home if the child is too tired to follow the usual routine. 1 in 20 parents claim to have missed a whole day of work because of their child’s poor sleep routines.
- Flexible hours
After a bad night’s sleep a 9am start might not always be realistic for parents. Offering workers flexibility over working hours gives parents more control over when they complete work tasks and when they need to be focused on family time. Likewise, if employees need to leave early to start the bedtime routine, flexible hours can really help.
- Breakfast at work
A busy morning getting the kids up, ready, fed and off to school can be a job in itself for parents, leaving little time for their own breakfast. Many UK offices provide breakfast or equipment such as toasters and microwaves so that employees can have breakfast at work. This means that busy parents don’t have to neglect their own wellbeing to get to work on time.
- Childcare provision
Both subsidised childcare and even office nurseries can be really helpful for working parents. It can take the pressure off both financially and save time taking kids to and from their day care centres. It also means that if children have a bad night’s sleep, parents are able to check in on them easily on their breaks which can be a weight off their shoulders.
What about other responsibilities?
The last thing to add is that it isn’t only parents who may juggle caring responsibilities. Some employees may be caring for sick partners or relatives, which could also affect their sleep and stress levels, so it’s important to remember them too. Each family will have differing needs – by taking time to speak openly with employees and find out what would best support them, employers can retain valuable talent and also ensure optimal productivity from workers with a good work/life balance.