Back-to-school is here, can you believe it’s mid-August already and that school is just around the corner for our little ones? For me, I still have a little one at home but my oldest is starting SK this year, I look forward to the routine and now understand why parents LOVE September so much ;P
If I can be honest, my biggest fear is exactly that, getting back into routine; we have made a good habit of hanging out on the couch in the morning eating bananas and peanut butter and not having breakfast until 9am. This will not work with the morning rush just around the corner.
The first few weeks after classes start can be a bit off, usually because we have been letting our kids stay up later than normal. My suggestion is not later than 8pm, ideally closer to 7 depending on the child. My 5 year old typically goes to bed at 7 and wakes at 7 and has since she was 6 months old. When she started school last year she was overtired and there were a couple of times I had to put her to bed before 6:30 and she slept until after 7! Just monitor their sleep once school begins and if they are tired, put them to bed, they will thank you for it by having an awesome sleep and waking up in a great mood.
Obviously returning them to a proper schedule can be a bit of a pain in the butt but if you start early it will make the overall transition much smoother because, as we know, kids are much easier to manage when they are well-rested.
This is what I would suggest to prepare your little one with great sleep: (and yes, I do them myself 😉 )
Don’t wait until school starts.
Two months of later bedtimes isn’t ‘something that you can undo in a couple of days. They will need time to adjust so I would suggest beginning about 2 weeks before school starts and moving bedtime up by 15 minutes every 3-4 days until you are back on track. This will allow for their body to adjust slowly to the change.
- ADVICE: Adjust their clocks slightly if they can tell time or use a timer and a reward system for going to bed on time. Rewards can be stickers on a chart for bragging rights. *Ask me for a copy of my bedtime chart –>
Turn off the screens.
Your computer, TV, cell phone & tablet (yes, all those good things) emit blue light and unfortunately blue light impedes the production of melatonin, which is what helps you fall asleep each night.
- ADVICE: Turn off all electronics at suppertime and don’t turn them back on until the kids are in bed. This will improve their ability to fall asleep faster and also give you some quality time with your kids (which, especially in the toddler/Kindergarten years, helps fill their attention cup up so they aren’t stalling as much at bedtime).
- OLDER KIDS with cell phones can be tempted to sneak a few extra minutes of text messaging or web surfing if they’ve got their phones in their rooms with them. Keep their chargers in the kitchen and get them to plug in before bed.
Routine, routine, routine.
Sleep routines are important for newborns right through to adults. This is what prepares our mind for sleep so that we can easily drift off and sleep peacefully each night.
- ADVICE: Create a 20-30 minute routine that is enjoyable for the whole family. Ensure that no electronics are involved, nor food or liquids, and just focus on being together in a quiet and calm space as you move through getting PJ’s on, brushing teeth, reading books and saying goodnight. It’s amazing how a consistent routine will create simple, relaxing bedtimes for everyone.
Keep their room cool and dark.
- ADVICE: Draw the blinds at least an hour early in their bedroom and any rooms you will be spending time in. This helps lower the temperature of your home and also promotes melatonin production to help them fall asleep faster.
Allow for reading time.
Whether you are reading to your kids or they are old enough to read to themselves it can be a great activity to include in your nighttime routine. The repetitive eye motion and low-level brain activity is a natural sedative (which explains why mom and dad get sleepy when tucking the kids in).
- ADVICE: choose books that are light and upbeat. Don’t pick stories that could be scary or promote deep thinking before bedtime, especially if the content could be misunderstood or exaggerated in the mind of a little one.
- Bonus- your kids will be smarter with the added time spent with a book 🙂
Good luck with school, I hope your little ones get the sleep their body’s need.
Help a sister (or friend or neighbour) out!
If you feel like these tips have been helpful, please share, you never know who may be dreading this transition more than you!
And if you feel like you need a customized sleep plan and individualized support to get you started on the right foot, let’s chat! Why not use this back to school time as great opportunity to change the state of sleep in your house. After all, well-rested kiddos learn better, perform better in school and are happier monsters to be around once they get home in the afternoon!