By Brittney Stefanic
So long summer
Can you believe it is already August? Where did those lazy summer days go?
For parents of school-aged kiddos, the transition back to school and back to the daily grind is coming up quickly! No matter how ready you are for this back to school season, most of us will be using this fall to get back into a routine for ourselves and our little ones. We are expecting ourselves and our kiddos to make quite a few changes in the next few weeks, and we all know change is hard.
If you are at all worried about getting back into the routine of early bedtime and early rising, read ahead for my 5 essential sleep tips for back to school.
Tip 1: Be consistent when resuming an evening routine for your family.
Create a bedtime routine to keep our minds and bodies happy. We always like to know what’s next! It doesn’t matter if your child is going into pre-school or will be a freshman in high school, a good sleep routine is essential. It’s not just about getting them physically ready for bed. The routine signals their brain that bedtime is approaching, and the brain starts shutting down in preparation for sleep.
Tip 2: Preserve your family's sleep environment by making sure bedrooms are calm, cool and dark.
The sun is “staying up late” and “getting up early” through the start of fall, so make sure the blinds in your child’s room are blocking it out. It can be really hard for little ones to realize it is time for bed when they can still see the sun! The late sun also has a habit of heating up the bedrooms, so set the thermostat somewhere between 60 and 70 degrees an hour before bedtime.
Tip 3: Limit screen time usage before bed to prevent drops in Melatonin production.
Computer, TV, and phone screens all emit blue light, which tricks our internal clocks into thinking that it’s still daytime. My advice… power down the electronics at dinnertime and keep them off until the next morning, and to minimize temptation, don’t charge devices near beds! Set up a family “charging station” to reduce the temptation and allow some screen-free time.
Bonus tip: Once screen are out of sight, reading can begin! Whether you’re reading to your kids or they’re reading on their own, a half hour of book time is a great way to wind down before going to sleep. The repetitive eye motion and low level brain activity is a natural sedative. This is likely why so many of us find ourselves falling asleep while reading to our kids. OOPS!
Tip 4: Use a timer or alarm to signal for kids when it is time to start the next step in their routine.
Setting a timer is a great way of deflecting the blame away from parents for when bedtime is approaching. After all, it’s not you hustling them to get to bed… It’s the timer! It can also be a fun challenge for them to get their bedtime routine completed before it goes off. Put a sticker on the calendar for every night they beat the clock, and offer a reward for a perfect week.
Tip 5: Start NOW. Giving children more time to adjust will be better than making lots of changes too quickly.
Change is hard, and change in one or two nights is even harder! Two and half months of late a bedtime isn’t something you can just snap back from quickly. Your child is going to need some time to adjust, so two weeks before school gets back in, start moving bedtimes back by 15 minutes every 3 nights or so.
What’s in it for me?
I know this seems like a lot of work, and in reality, it can be. But, if you are expecting your children to be healthy and equipped for learning success, the number one thing they need is rest because it is during the deep stages of sleep that growth and development occur. I know you want to set your little ones up for success, so use that as motivation to get back into the jive of your evening routine and early bedtimes!
And as an added perk… It’s far easier to catch up on the latest episode of Bachelor in Paradise if the kids are already in bed, right?
Brittney Stefanic is a certified whole-family sleep consultant. She gets that when our little ones don't sleep, the family struggles to function, especially with the start of school! You can find out more about what she does to support clients at brittneystefanicsleep.com, follow her on Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook for sleep tips and tricks @brittneystefanicsleep.