By Brittney Stefanic
So long summer
Can you believe we are already nearing back to school season? How did the summer days pass so quickly?
If you are a parent of a school-aged child, the transition back to school and back to daily routines will be here before you know it. No matter what your back to school season looks like this year, the fall a great opportunity to get back into a daily schedule for the whole family. In order to best handle the transition that is upcoming, here are 5 essential tips for making this change as smooth as possible.
Tip 1: Start sooner than later
We know that change can be tricky for our children and ourselves, and change just a few nights is even harder! Giving children more time to adjust will be better than making lots of changes too quickly. For most families, the summer schedule of late a bedtime isn’t something you can just snap back from quickly, especially if it’s been the norm for the past few months. Your child is going to need some time to adjust, so two weeks before school starts up again begin by moving bedtime by 15 minutes earlier every 3 nights or so until you achieve your desired school night bedtime.
Tip 2: Cut back on screen time
With the hot summer temps and lots of time at home, it is common for screen use to be higher in the summer time. Be mindful of this when it comes to sleep as computer, TV, and phone screens all emit blue light, which tricks our internal clocks into thinking that it’s still daytime. As we prepare for earlier bedtimes, power down the electronics at dinnertime and keep them off until the next morning. To minimize temptation of them within reach, set up a family “charging station” to keep them out of sight and out of mind as they are charging!
Bonus tip: Once screen are put away, 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 during reading time!
Tip 3: Use a timer
A great way of deflecting the blame away from parents when bedtime is approaching is to set a timer or alarm to signal that it is time for the next step in their routine. They see it as the timer, rather than you, hustling them to get to bed. It can also be set up as a “race the clock challenge” for the kids to get their bedtime routine completed before the timer or alarm goes off. To make this even more fun, consider putting a sticker on the calendar for every night they beat the clock, and offer a reward for a week of full stickers! Keep in mind that timers are a great tool for transitions during other parts of the day, too. Another way to use them is to get out of the house on time in the morning once school is back in session.
Tip 4: Make bedrooms calm, cool and dark
It is important that the rooms we sleep in feel calm and free of clutter. This might mean taking an afternoon or two to get bedrooms organized before the start of school. Once you have a clean room, anxiety lessens and sleep comes more easily.
Through the start of fall, the sun is still “staying up late” and “getting up early” so it is important that the blinds in your bedrooms are blocking out natural night. It can be really hard for the body to realize it is time for bed when sunlight is still within view! The late sun also has a tendency to heat up our sleeping spaces, so set the thermostat somewhere between 60 and 70 degrees an hour before bedtime to be sure that rooms are cool and conducive to sleep.
Tip 5: Consistency wins!
Create a predictable bedtime routine to keep our minds and bodies happy. 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. As humans, we feel safe and secure when we know what is coming next!
Prep now, win later!
This may seem like a lot of work, and in reality, it can be depending on where you are starting from. Remember that if you are expecting your children to be healthy and equipped for learning success, the number one thing they need is a great night of rest. It is during the deep stages of sleep that growth and development occur. Setting your little ones up for academic success is a great motivation to get back into the jive of your evening routine and early bedtimes!
Plus… It’s far easier to binge watch your favorite show when the kids are already in bed, right?
Brittney Stefanic is a whole-family certified sleep consultant and founder of Sleeper Teachers®. As a sleep enthusiast, she knows that great sleep is such an important part of each family’s wellbeing. When we are able to teach the skill of sleep to our little ones, partenthood improves, relationships are elevated and the entire family is better off. Brittney and her team love educating and support families around the world in finding sleep solutions through their customized sleep plans. You can follow the Sleeper Teachers® on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook @sleeperteachers for funny Reels, lots of blogs and frequent sleep Q&A sessions.