At 9pm every day, Batul Poonawala, 34, walks into her five-year-old daughter Fizza’s room. Fizza is sitting up in bed with her storybook ready. Tonight, it’s Cinderella. Poonawala tucks Fizza into her quilt and the two begin to read together.
Between chatting, reading and looking at the pictures, it takes Fizza about 20 minutes to drop off.
“She’s usually tired anyway,” says her mother, laughing. “She doesn’t sit still for a moment through the day. She loves cycling, running around and playing with her friends in the building. She also attends a yoga class once a week.”
Batul, an instructional designer, also makes sure her daughter eats a light, early dinner at 7.30 pm so that she can sleep well.
“Because she finishes dinner early, she has time to watch a little TV and wrap up by 9 pm,” says Batul. “This routine also ensures that she wakes up fresh for school early in the morning.”
As Fizza gets so much exercise through the day, Batul likes her to take a nap in the afternoon too, once she is back from school, so she stays alert through the rest of the day.
There are days when Fizza refuses to sleep at 9 pm. “At such times, I sit with her and explain the importance of sleep — how she grows taller in her sleep, her bones get stronger and she regains her energy to play the next day.”
Batuls says that because Fizza’s sleep pattern is so regular, her eating habits are regular too.
Children who do not sleep enough or go to sleep very late end up feeling lethargic through the day, says Dr Soonu Udani, consultant paediatrician and critical specialist at Hinduja hospital. “Parents should avoid giving their kids permission to watch television till too late.”