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Late to bed and late to rise - how to fix lockdown sleep for our children

The lack of normal routine over the past few months has impacted all aspects of our lives, in particular our sleep routines. In a lot of homes, Emily Hourican's included, children are going to bed late and sleeping until mid-morning. But what's a working parent to do? She talks to the experts for some realistic tips to help restore a workable summer routine

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Emily Hourican pictured with her children, Malachy, Davy and Bee. Photo: Frank Mc Grath

Emily Hourican pictured with her children, Malachy, Davy and Bee. Photo: Frank Mc Grath

Fiona O’Farrell, paediatric occupational therapist

Fiona O’Farrell, paediatric occupational therapist

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Emily Hourican pictured with her children, Malachy, Davy and Bee. Photo: Frank Mc Grath

There are many hardships for parents just now, mainly to do with the lack of activity, occupation and formal structure for children. No school, no childcare, no sport, no weekend activities. And it's not just about having somewhere for them to go to during the day. There is a knock-on effect to these same-old days - a lack of routine. A lack of any urgent reason to get to bed at night. And, for many, increasingly that means delayed bedtimes.

Certainly, that's what it means for my own children. Rarely does the nine-year-old go to bed before 10pm these days, and even then it is usually 11pm, or later, before she is asleep. The 12-year-old is worse and the 16-year-old worse again.

It's not that I don't try. I do. But without any kind of deadline; no 'school tomorrow' 'an early match' 'training' - it's hard to inject any urgency. And so they go to bed late, they get up late, and neither of these things is having any kind of good effect on their mood. I have noticed more arguments, more cross words, a diminished ability to cope when things go wrong (by which I mean if they don't like what's for breakfast), and a general lessening of resilience. I have asked around, and every parent I speak to is facing the same issue.