Summertime often means Camp, Beach, Playdates, Vacations, a later bedtime and naps on the go. Schedules are put on hold to make the most of those long days. Early mornings and early bedtimes have often not been the norm for Summer.
As a new school year approaches and Summer comes to an end, children often find it difficult to transition back to a tighter schedule. There are a number of things children have to adjust to, new teacher, new grade, new friends, new building, being bussed to school. Some children often start to have new fears emerging at bedtime at the beginning of the school year, for example, they may become afraid of the dark.
Here are a few tips to get your children and you get back on track with their sleep.
1/ Don’t leave it to the last minute to change your child’s sleep schedule. Gradually start to push bedtime earlier, at least 2/3 weeks before school starts. Push it earlier by 15 minutes every four days. For example, if bedtime has been 9 pm, the first four nights should be 8.45, then 8.30 and so forth. This allows the body’s circadian rhythm (natural body clock) get in line and ready for a more natural sleep-wake schedule.
2/ Make bedtime between 7 and 8 pm for Pre-schoolers and school-aged children. Have them go to bed at the same time every night. This teaches their bodies to sleep and be ready for rest. They will wake up more refreshed and ready to start their day the next morning and avoids them getting that second wind.
3/ Have a bedtime routine. Routines are a great cueing system for the mind and body to get the message that it is time for sleep. Get the children involved, for toddlers, use sticker charts. Keep the steps simple, with no grey areas. Aim for the routine to be 30 minutes long. Meet all needs of water/snack/bathroom/cuddles before lights out.
4/ Have a Morning Routine. Often Summertime means zero routine in the morning. Ensure your kiddo has some steps in place once they wake up so that they get used to the structure. Breakfast, teeth, get dressed.
5/ Use a timer. If you don’t want to be the bad guy or the party pooper, let the timer be the signal that it’s time for bed. You can make it a game to beat the timer, and if they do, reward them with a sticker.
6/ Limit Screen Time. Summertime often means free reign with screen time. Push screen time to early on in the day. Turn off screens at least two hours before bed. This interferes with Melatonin (sleep hormone) levels and often means an unsettled bedtime.
7/ Make sure your child’s bedroom is dark enough. This helps with the early morning sun, which can often be the cause of early morning wake-ups. Use Blackout blinds or a blanket to cover the windows.
Here’s to a fantastic year of learning!