It’s time to start thinking about getting your kids back to sleep for back to school. I know that no one wants to think about summer being over but September is going to be here in no time and it’s time to start making some plans.
We know we have to get back-to-school shopping, planning for the things our kids will need for school, even start thinking about the lunches we will pack, but has anyone started thinking about getting their kids’ sleep back on track?
The truth is that most parents don’t think about it until the last weekend before school starts. We want to enjoy every bit of our way-too-short summers, but that can come at a hefty price.
That doesn’t mean the fun has to stop or you can’t go away to the cottage, or to the BBQ you’ve been looking forward to. It just means that it’s time to be aware of the clock and how much sleep your kids are getting each night.
Your kids have probably been enjoying some later nights, accompanied by some nice sleep-ins. There is no harm in that. But if that continues to the end of summer you are going to have some tired, cranky, zombie-like kids the first week of school.
For example, if your kids have been going to bed at 9:30 all summer but on school nights you would like them to go to bed at 8:00, making that change the night before school is going to be a nightmare and your child will definitely not be ready for bed. That also means your child is going to have a really hard time getting out of bed in the morning. And chaos ensues.
Making big changes to our sleep can take time to adjust to. Consider daylight savings time and the impact it has on the people all around the world who practice it. The Monday following the time change has the highest rate of traffic accidents! And that is just making a change of one hour. So you can imagine the impact changing a child’s entire schedule would have!
If you start to think about your child’s sleep today and consider your goal for back to school, you can start to make small changes now. Here are some tips for getting your child’s sleep back on track for back to school.
- Bring back the bed time routine. With all of the summer activities and late nights often comes a lack of routine. Most kids are barely brushing their teeth before bed in the summer because they don’t want to miss out on one minute. Bed time routines (about 30 minutes before lights out) help our kids transition from the days activities to sleep time, and help them have a more restful sleep. Not taking the time to unwind before sleep can lead to long periods of wakefulness after your child has gone to bed and often leads to the dreaded “I need a glass of water” or any of the other stalling tactics kids use.
- Start to make changes today. If you want your child to go to bed at 8:00 pm on school nights but all summer they have been going to bed at 9:30, it is going to take time to get to the desired bedtime.You can start tonight by putting your child to bed at 9:15. This won’t seem like a big difference but it is the first step to getting to bed earlier. After 4 nights you can move to 9:00. Keep making gradual changes until you reach your desired bedtime.
- Start shutting down electronics an hour before bed. You will have a 30 minute bedtime routine right before bed but the 30 minutes before that can have an impact on your child’s sleep as well. Play a board game, play some cards, do a crossword puzzle. Anything that doesn’t involve sitting in front of a screen. This will help your child’s body understand it is time to start preparing for sleep. Read More on the effects of electronics on sleep
- As your child begins going to bed earlier, they should also start to get up earlier. The same as bedtime, you can start with getting up 15 minutes earlier each morning. Wouldn’t it be great to not have to wake your child up for school in the morning, but have them wake up on their own when they are ready? It can be done!
- Keep their bedroom nice and dark. You may find it difficult to get your child to sleep when it is still so light outside at bedtime. Black out blinds or curtains will help. For older children you can try a sleep mask
- Be a good example. If you are putting your kids to bed a little earlier and getting them out of bed a little earlier, you should do the same. It will be so much easier for them if they see you also making the healthy changes
- Know how much sleep your child actually needs. It is important to know what time your child’s bedtime should be according to the amount of sleep they need. Here is a great guide to help determine your child’s required amount of sleep
There are so many things that can make back to school feel very stressful and complicated. Sleep doesn’t have to be one of them. In fact, proper sleep, both for your child and for yourself, can make the whole transition so much easier.
Be positive about sleep and remind your kids how much more fun you can have when you’re well-rested.
Now is the time to make the positive changes you want to benefit from throughout the school year!
It is never too early or too late to help your child get the healthy sleep they need. Sleep Wise helps infants, children, adolescents and adults of all ages solve their sleep issues. Contact Sleep Wise today for your FREE 15 minute phone consultation!