Bedtime Routine Characteristics and Activities in Families with Young Children in the North of England.
Bedtime routines have been shown to have significant associations with health, wellbeing and development outcomes for children and parents. Despite the importance of bedtime routines, most research has been carried out in the United States, with little information on bedtime routine characteristics and activities for families in other countries such as the United Kingdom and England in particular. Additionally, little is known about the possible effects of weekends vs. weekdays on the quality of bedtime routines. Finally, traditional, retrospective approaches have been most used in capturing data on bedtime routines, limiting our understanding of a dynamic and complex behaviour. The aim of this study was to explore bedtime routine characteristics and activities in families in the North of England with a real-time, dynamic data collection approach and to examine possible effects of weekend nights on the quality of bedtime routines. In total, 185 parents with children ages 3 to 7 years old provided data around their bedtime routine activities using an automated text-survey assessment over a 7-night period. Information on socio-economic and demographic characteristics were also gathered during recruitment. A small majority of parents managed to achieve all crucial elements of an optimal bedtime routine every night, with 53% reporting brushing their children's teeth every night, 25% reading to their children every night and 30% consistently putting their children to bed at the same time each night. Results showed significant differences between weekend (especially Saturday) and weekday routines (F(1, 100) = 97.584, p < 0.001), with an additional effect for parental employment (F(1, 175) = 7.151, p < 0.05). Results highlight variability in bedtime routine activities and characteristics between families. Many families undertook, in a consistent manner, activities that are closely aligned with good practices and recommendations on what constitutes an optimal bedtime routine, while others struggled. Routines remained relatively stable during weekdays but showed signs of change over the weekend. Additional studies on mechanisms and elements affecting the formation, development and maintenance of bedtime routines are needed alongside studies on supporting and assisting families to achieve optimal routines.
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