By Brittney Stefanic
School in 2020
I think we can all agree that being a parent has never been more challenging...
To go back to school in person?
To keep your kiddos home?
To find the best home-schooling curriculum?
To build a hybrid of all those?
What’s safe for your family?
What’s not safe for your family?
The best choice for your family
Whatever choice you’re making, step into the belief that is best for your family... One based on your own family needs and love for your child. You can’t go wrong doing that.
We all know that what works for one family could be the wrong answer for the next. And what is wrong for your neighbor, may be perfectly fit for you.
No matter how you are navigate the changes in the next 4 weeks, one thing is a deal breaker or deal maker for the health of your family and plugging back into whatever version of school is right for you.
Getting back to a ROUTINE!
The biggest tip for getting back onto a routine is to not wait too long. Whether your kiddos will be virtually learning, going back to the classroom, or a little of both... Most of us have been 5 months without a routine.
We need to realize that it is going to take some time to get back to earlier bedtime and earlier morning, especially with the later sunsets of summer.
It is going to take some time to not watch cartoons for 3 hours each morning. It is going to take some time to get clothes picked out and lunches prepared. So, don't wait!
Even during a “normal summer”, we know that it takes kiddos (young and old) about two weeks to get back into the swing of school. And it’s no surprise that back to school 2020 is far from normal!
This means that it will likely take about three weeks to get things ready to rumble for the coming school year.
Earlier to bed, Earlier to Rise
If your family has fallen into the habit of staying up a little too late and sleeping in a little too long, welcome to the club! This is quite typical of summer schedule and will require a bit of a schedule change to get “back to school” ready.
Try sliding everything (bedtime and wake time) 30 minutes earlier every 3 days. If your child is currently going to bed at 9:00 and 7:30 is a better fit once school starts back up, let’s make a 30 minute change to 8:30 for 3 nights, then 8:00 for another 3 nights and then finally adjust to the ideal 7:30 bedtime!
Same goes with the later morning rising, in that you will want to wake them 30 minutes earlier every 3 days! Making these changes gradually will prevent a significant sleep-debt and will allow their circadian rhythms to get back in sync. It will also help that in the coming month, the sun will start to set a little bit earlier each night.
Get those rooms dark
In order to allow for the greatest production of melatonin, our sleep hormone, it is important that the spaces that we sleep are DARK! This is a bit tricky with later summer sunsets, so take a few minutes to decide how you’d like to darken up your child’s sleep space. Blackout blinds or curtains can be a huge help, but we can get creative here, too!
Tin foil, cardboard and black garbage bags all help to block out the intense summer sun! You can even make a project out of this to get your family to help you out! This won’t be permanent bedroom décor, but it certainly helps to get them into bed if they aren’t being beamed in the eyes by bright sun!
Clear out the clutter
One final, but VERY IMPORTANT tip, as we round the corner back to routine and back to school is to be sure that the sleep spaces for your family are clutter free. It is pretty typical this time of year that there are wet swimsuits hanging on closet doors, games and toys flung around the bedroom floor, piles of laundry (clean or dirty) in almost every corner.
Before we can expect our families to get back into the routine of school, it is important that we get their spaces organized. A calm, relaxing and inviting sleep space is going to be much more conducive to sleep than one that is chaotic, messy and full of distractions! Again, starting on this project now will be helpful because it may take a few days to get it all picked up. Consider breaking down the job into a few parts and assigning them per child and per day with a reward for completion!
Before we can have family movie night this weekend, we need Joey to make sure all of the towels are in the washing machine and get that started, and we need Charlotte to get all the art supplies put away where they belong. Then, the following day, assign another (age-appropriate) pick up task to each family member!
They will be shocked to see the floor in their bedroom, and you will be pleasantly surprised how walking into a clean room helps everyone to take a deep breath and prepare for a great night sleep!
Give yourself grace, Mama
We’ve got to remember here that this is uncharted territory for all of us. We have been home, without school, for months on end. This school district looks different than all others have. There is still a lot unknown and plenty of decisions to make… So, give yourself a break! You are doing the very best you can. Your kids know it! And you need to know it, too!
Getting your family back on a routine will help with the transition back to school whether that it in a school classroom, at your kitchen table or a little bit of both!
Brittney Stefanic is a certified whole-family sleep consultant and founder of Sleeper Teachers Sleep Consulting. As a work at home mom boss and former classroom teacher, she understands that the return back to learning and back to routine this year is going to be a tricky one. As a sleep educator, Brittney believes in the power of sleep and knows that we all need more of it to stay healthy and sane. Brittney and her team love educating and supporting families around the world in finding sleep solutions. You can follow the teachers on Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook @sleeperteachers for sleep tips and tricks.