Sweet Dreams

23rd October 2009

Grace Fuller looks at Ready for Bed Week, a scheme designed by Worlds Apart (a British company creating ‘lifestyle products for children’) with the aim of helping parents here get their offspring’s bedtime routine in order… and funding bed kits for children in underprivileged countries.

Charity begins at bedtime – or at least, that’s what Worlds Apart would have you believe. The fact that this company markets a range of products with names such as Ready Room (‘a complete bedtime routine solution’), ReadyBed and Slumber (‘a unique all-in-one sleep solution’), plus other sleep related items, might make you think that cashflow also begins at bedtime… or am I being cynical?

Ready for Bed Week (25-31 October) is – I’m certain – designed to send parents to the shops, as well as youngsters to bed, but it would be churlish to dismiss the whole initiative as a marketing gimmick alone. There is a social dimension, too. RfB Week is not only going to remind us how lucky we are that our children mostly have warm, safe places in which to sleep, but also help us improve life for millions of children around the world who lack beds, or even bedrooms.

A survey of nearly five thousand UK parents, carried out by Worlds Apart, has revealed that over 80% confess that their children sometimes go to bed too late, although only one in 20 will admit that this is always the case (I reckon a proportion of the others are fooling themselves, actually). Two thirds of parents also wish that their children would stay in bed longer in the morning. Burning the candle at both ends frequently results in tired, grumpy and less-than-well-behaved children (and parents…).

With some six out of ten families acknowledging that bedtime needs some work, RfB Week offers parents the chance to get back on track by taking advantage of the darker evenings, making the time to focus on establishing a good routine.

The Ready for Bed Week website* has a downloadable reward chart (eat your heart out, Supernanny), on which helps parents can record children’s good behaviour in cleaning teeth, tidying toys away, settling down in good time – and staying in bed until it’s time to get up.

To add the global perspective, for every one hundred unique downloads of the chart during October, Worlds Apart will fund a bed kit from Sleeping Children Around the World, a little known but very practical international charity (www.scaw.org). A SCAW bedkit varies from country to country depending upon local needs, but will contain a mat or a mattress, pillow, sheet, blanket, plus a mosquito net if applicable (in Africa, one child dies from malaria every thirty seconds; it’s the biggest killer disease of children under five years of age in this part of the world), and towel, together with clothes and school spplies.

The RfB Week site also includes a DIY sponsorship form for any families who would like to fund a bed kit themselves.

As well as helping those less fortunate, Worlds Apart promises that downloading the chart and observing it diligently will reap copious rewards at home… happy children, easier evenings, and extra ‘me-time’ for parents. According to that survey, seven out of ten of us are dreaming of that…

* www.readyforbedweek.com

Top Tips… for helping to establish a good bedtime routine

• Try and build up a routine that leads towards bedtime across an hour, to include bath time, quiet play and story time

• Make tidying your toys part of the bedtime routine

• Switch off the television / computer / games console at least half an hour before the bedtime routine begins

• Avoid rough and tumble games too close to bedtime

• Avoid fizzy/sugary drinks with the tea-time meal

• Identify some soothing music (that everyone enjoys) to play at bedtime so the children quickly understand it’s time for bed

• Always make time for a bedtime chat to talk through what has happened during the day

• End the routine with a kiss and a cuddle and then leave the room swiftly. Avoid being drawn into further conversation.

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