Here's Supernanny's Trick For Getting Kids To Bed -- And Getting Some Rest Ourselves

by Valerie Williams
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Supernanny Jo Frost shared some of her best parenting tips about sleep, screen time, and more

If you owned a television in 2004, chances are excellent you watched at least a few (or all) episodes of the hit series Supernanny. It starred real-life British nanny, Jo Frost, and showed us how she worked her Mary Poppins-style magic in the homes of parents struggling to discipline and raise their kids. Her methods were legend, and helped countless parents solve the everyday problems in raising little ones. Now, she’s back with a new series on Lifetime — and today’s parents need her wisdom more than ever.

Frost sat down with Scary Mommy to answer some very important parenting questions, and when you think of what’s important to parents, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Sleep. Duh.

Frost has some golden tips for parents struggling to get their kids to bed every night. “Be consistent and create a bedtime routine,” she says. “Children need to feel safe. They want the predictable behavior from their parents because that predictable behavior and that ritual lays down a foundation of safety and security. And children are at their most vulnerable when they’re sleeping. So if it’s predictable, and if we create a bedtime routine that allows children to know what’s coming, they fall into that pattern quite easily and look forward to having parents’ home presence without the interruption of technology, or work, or anything else, quite frankly.”

As far as making yourself available for that happy bedtime routine? Frost wants parents to think about what would have to happen to make that more doable. “Would it take you organizing what your meals would be during the week so that you would have more time with your child to follow through on a bedtime routine, rather than scurrying around the pantry and the fridge and wondering what you’re going to knock out that night for the kids? So it’s about looking at the framework that allows us to be consistent to lead to the success in following through with bedtime routines and connecting with your children, so that they feel that they’ve had your time, and that they feel that you’ve been present with them, and that you’ve been able to fall into this beautiful space with them that allows them to really relax their mind, their bodies, and to let go.”

Frost says that getting kids into that happy, sleepy space might help us parents too. She says she witnesses many parents she helps with bedtime troubles going through the soothing routine with their child, only to find that afterward, they’re ready for bed too. “So we are all quite sleep deprived in society. Right? We’re pushing.”

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When asked if she has any guidance on dealing with arguably the biggest parenting issue of the last decade, screen time, Frost definitely had a hot tip. How do you make your child more interested in toys than in screens? That’s easy.

“Play with them,” she says.

Now you might be thinking, “I’m not really good at playing.” That’s totally ok, Supernanny has you covered. She says it doesn’t necessarily need to mean toys — say, you let your little one help you cook dinner. “He’s got your attention. He’s seeing you do things. Right? He’s seeing you use different tools. And you are communicating with him so he’s learning language and speech,” she says.

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Frost also suggests playtime can be merely sorting blocks by color, telling silly stories, having a kitchen dance party, or getting out an old-fashion coloring book with your little one. No need to do Barbie theatrics or pretend to find HotWheels cars fun if that’s not really your thing.

Now, when it comes to the parenting you do after your small child is finally asleep, Frost has a single gadget she recommends — a baby monitor. No, not a video monitor, just audio. And TBH, her reasoning makes perfect sense. “So I love the baby gadget for the reason it is designed, to be able to meet the needs of our baby when they’re crying. But I want parents to be in tune and to develop that confidence with practice of being able to be in tune with their baby’s cry. And I think with practice, you actually intuitively start to feel that and know it. But when the video screen’s on, it disables you because you go straight to looking at the child to see whether they’re okay rather than hearing. And that, to me, I believe can be the beginning of us really developing more intuition and the intuitive sense around our children and knowing.”

If you have more questions for Jo Frost, she can be reached on Twitter or on her website.