Hard-pressed British parents spend the equivalent of nearly nine days a year trying to get their little ones into bed and asleep.
A poll of 1,000 mums and dads of children aged between three and 10 found they spend 34 minutes each evening getting little ones ready for bed – a total of nearly four hours every week.
But in a bid to delay bedtime, children will conjure up an average of three excuses every night – including saying they’re scared of the dark, sudden headaches or tummy aches, and needing the toilet. And there will be four evenings a week when parents think the little ones are asleep – only to hear tell-tale thumps from upstairs saying otherwise.
The research, commissioned by Compare the Market, also found 28 per cent of children will complain it’s too light outside to sleep. And three in 10 won’t close their eyes unless their favourite soft toy is present and accounted for.
Julie Daniels, head of rewards for Compare the Market said: “Bedtime never seems to get easier. “Our study has shown that even with a thorough routine, you can’t stop children still wanting that extra five minutes of awake time.
“But you can usually tell – as parents – when your youngster is being genuine, such as wanting a drink or being afraid of the dark, and when they are prolonging you leaving the room and just getting on with your evening.
“And regardless of the excuse, it can still be hard to say no to your little one no matter how hard you try.”
The study also found 35 per cent will complain that they are too hot or too cold and can’t sleep as a result, while nearly a third will ask for a kiss or cuddle from their other parent in a bid to stay up later.
As many as 83 per cent of parents find themselves going back to check their child has actually gone to sleep after they’ve left the room.
In fact, more than half have walked in on their youngster playing with their toys when they should be asleep, while 28 per cent of children have been caught playing on a tablet.
A further 21 per cent have been watching TV and a fifth have even been playing on a games console – when they should be in the land of nod. And six in 10 parents said their little one has also taken toys or video games into their bed to play with after ‘lights out’.
In an attempt to help them nod off, 43 per cent of mums and dads read stories to their kids and 29 per cent will get creative and tell them tales instead of reading them. But more modern tactics are also being used with 15 per cent turning to audiobooks or YouTube videos to settle children, and seven per cent even use podcasts.
A quarter of parents admitted it can be harder to get their child to sleep when they’ve been playing video games, and three in 10 struggle when their kid has filled up on sweets before bed.
When times are tough, 37 per cent find cuddling their little one will help them fall asleep, and 31 per cent find a comforter, such as a teddy or blanket, works well.
But even so, 68 per cent of mums and dads still wished there was a sure-fire way to get their little ones to bed and fast sleep with ease.
The study, conducted via OnePoll, also revealed the typical bedtime routine will consist of brushing teeth, a bath and reading stories – as well as finding favourite toys before hitting the hay at 7:50pm.
As many as seven in 10 children sleep with a toy or comforter of some kind, and more than two-thirds said their youngster will struggle to sleep without it.
In fact, children have as many as three toys or comforters in order to sleep soundly.
Julie Daniels from Compare the Market added: “Even if it’s a struggle to get them to bed, there’s usually something that will convince them to go to sleep or sooth them enough that they get drowsy and give up.
“Toys and blankets never seem to fail in this respect – they offer that reassurance and when it’s time for you to leave the room and take the cuddle with you, they offer that sense of safety.”
Top 20 excuses children will use to prolong or delay bedtime:
- Saying they’re not tired
- Saying they’re hungry
- Saying they need the toilet
- Saying they are thirsty
- Asking for another story
- Saying they’re too hot/too cold
- Wanting to tell you EVERYTHING about their day
- Wanting a kiss/cuddle from the other parent
- Needing to find a certain toy
- Wanting longer cuddles with you
- Saying it’s too light
- Wanting to say goodnight to the other parent
- Saying they’re scared of the dark
- Saying they can’t sleep without their ‘comforter’ / toy
- Saying it’s too noisy outside
- Having a headache/tummy ache
- being scared of monsters under the bed
- Wanting a story from their other parent
- Wanting to tell you about a conversation they’ve had with someone
- Wanting to show you a YouTube video they’ve been watching