Real Life: We Talk Routines With Emily From Brick Dust & Glitter
Time to dig out the school bags, polish the shoes, and wave our little ones off at the school gates and try our hardest not to weep. Or cheer. The summer holidays are LONG when you're relied upon to provide non-stop entertainment and snacks.
It's also time to either test out new routines or reintroduce ones that were forgotten or somewhat overlooked during the summer months. Emily, GLTC testing team member and author of the amazing family life and style blog, Brick Dust & Glitter, is our resident expert when it comes to establishing great routines for children. And we managed to grab half an hour with her to steal all of her knowledge and get some top tips.
Read on if you're in need of a little bit of advice (and there's a lovely competition to enter at the end of the interview).
Emily, we know you're an advocate of good routines for your children, can you tell us a little bit about why you think they're important?
When we had our first child Raphael, we waited ten months before introducing a good routine, simply because we didn’t know how to. We were happy to take him everywhere and we let him sleep when he wanted. His feeds followed more of a pattern but honestly, nighttimes were something we muddled through. Rob enjoyed staying up late and watching football with him and would give him an 11pm feed before he put him to bed. I then got up in the night as and when it was needed, but we knew it wasn’t right and we found it really hard.
It wasn’t until the health visitor called round and we explained that we were struggling with his sleeping that she taught us a method that genuinely changed our lives and parenting style forever. All it took was the introduction of a very structured bedtime routine. And then we started to implement it into all areas of our lives. Nearly seven years later we still live by what that health visitor taught us.
What does the average bedtime look like in your house?
We have a few variations, but bedtime in our house is usually the same every night. Between 6.30pm and 6.45pm, it is tidy up time. On school days there isn’t much to do but around 6.30pm, we always tell the children it is nearly bedtime so there is no shock for them.
Once everything is sorted, it is shower or bath time depending on what the children want. Then teeth brushing and the usual grooming habits before we all get onto Etta’s bed for three stories. As the children read more now with school, some nights the stories are replaced with their school books.
After stories we say prayers without fail - a key to making the children feel relaxed - and then we tuck them in anywhere between 7pm and 7.30pm. The main thing is, once we have gone upstairs to get ready for bed, the children do not go back down. They know that we are at the end of the day.
And do you have a morning routine, too?
We never used to have a particular morning routine before school, but now we do. As soon as they are up, they get washed and dressed. We don’t go downstairs wearing our pyjamas on school days as we find the children become very reluctant to get dressed otherwise. It's better to wake up, get ready and then have breakfast. And the kids actually have time to play before they head to school which is great.
We all tend to relax our children's routines during the holidays. What's your top tip for reintroducing them in the run up to the start of a new term?
We only really relax our routines if we are at a party or away. We tend to stick to them at all other times. Why? Because our children need it. They actually genuinely like the process of bedtime. It’s a nice time to have with them upstairs and they like that attention. When we don’t stick to the norm we tend to have behaviour issues. Also, while we were on holiday in Italy, we made sure to have the kids in bed at 7pm and it meant that Rob and I could have a break and sit on the balcony just enjoying our time together, too.
What advice would you give to parents who would like to encourage their children to be a bit more independent, particularly when it comes to getting ready for school in the morning?
The best way to get kids to do things for themselves is to start small. Perhaps when getting them dressed, help with one item and encourage them to do the other. Try having everything out for them ready and the right way round so all that they need to do is pick up and pull on. A clothes rail is great for this.
When it comes to grooming and teeth brushing, just be near them. Be upstairs when that happens so you can check they are doing it right and they feel confident that you haven’t left them alone.
Eventually, they will naturally be happy to do these things by themselves. We find that more so with our 7 year old than our 5 year old, but I think this school year will make her a lot more confident.
Are there any GLTC products in particular that you'd recommend to help with bedtime?
With regards to a good bedtime, I find that it's so important that the room represents what children have to do in there. It's a place that should be peaceful and inspire sleep.
Our children have a small amount of toys in their bedroom so that they can play as they wait for each other to get ready, but I really believe that bedrooms shouldn’t be full of toys. Or, if they need to be, everything should be put away before the bedtime routine is started. It's easier said than done, but great storage is key to keeping any room tidy so I would recommend taking a look at GLTC's storage to choose something suitable.
We also like GLTC's soft cotton bedding. In fact, my kids only have GLTC bedding as it is so simple and perfect but still fun. It really helps to personalise and add character to their room as well as being great to sleep under.
And which products do you think would help children with their morning routine?
Our morning routine revolves around the Star Bright chest of drawers. The kids know exactly where their socks, pants and vests are stored so it's easy for them to help themselves to what they need and start getting ready.
Are Raph and Giulietta looking forward to the new school term?
I think we are all looking forward to the new school term and getting our daily routines back. The children thrive on routines and being back at school really helps with that.
Do you have any tips for for parents who are dropping their little ones off for the first time?
New parents, enjoy it!!! Starting school is so hard but you need to help your child want to be at school. If they feel that you don’t want them to go, it will make them not want to go. Be excited and happy and wave them off before you show your true emotions. We all cry but we all want them to love school, and getting an education is so important.
A huge thanks to Emily for taking the time to answer our questions. We hope you found her tips useful. To help with your bedtime routine, we’re offering one lucky winner the perfect prize for any little bookworm – a library of Alfie books, plus a gorgeous sling bookcase to keep them in. Great for any children starting school and beginning on their reading journey. Head over to Penguin Books to enter. And good luck!
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