Back to School Prep Starts In the Bedroom:
5 Tips to Go From Summer to School Smoothly
It’s that time once again, the time parents eagerly await and kiddos dread. Summer break is coming to a close and the school year is about to kick off. Summer break can throw off the entire family’s sleep patterns, as bedtimes slip a little later and curfews get a little looser. The best thing you can do for your kids is get them back into a school sleep routine before the school year starts. They might not thank you, but their teachers will!
Much to your children’s dismay, they need their sleep. The National Sleep Foundation says school-age children need 9-11 hours of sleep a night. With increased demands on schedules and the strong pull from media, parents face a true challenge to get their kids adequate sleep. As both the quantity and quality of sleep are tied to academic success, it is a challenge that cannot be ignored. Here are a few ideas on how to make the transition from summer sleep to school sleep schedules a little smoother.
Don’t Procrastinate: The worst thing you could do is wait until the night before school starts to make the sleep shift. Give your kids— and yourself— a week or two to get back into the swing of things. Start by inching bedtime closer to its “normal” time bit by bit. For example, if summer bedtime is 10:00 p.m., move it back 15 minutes each night for a week. The following week, implement the school bedtime. It is also helpful to set an alarm for the next morning, which we will cover in a moment.
Cut the Caf and Skip the Sugar: Summer break brings with it extra treats and they often come in the form of soda or frosty coffee shop beverages. Getting your family’s diet back on track will be critical in getting back to a regular sleep schedule. Bid farewell to caffeinated and sugary beverages, which probably aren’t good for school aged children anytime of the year. They can cause a variety of issues, including trouble falling asleep and staying asleep.
Reinstate Bedtime Routine: Whether it’s bath time and a book or a more elaborate routine, get back into it. For older children, this might mean getting electronics out of the bedroom. Phones, tablets and computers should never be part of the bedtime routine, or bedtime at all. Starting this a couple weeks before school is back in session allows our children to go through one transition at a time. Their bodies will quickly recall the patterns that lead up to bedtime and by the time school starts, they will be sleeping soundly and ready to hit the books. This isn’t a bad idea for adults either, as the school year brings higher demands on everyone in the household.
Sound the Alarm: Getting them to bed on time is just the first step. Getting your kids out of bed in time for school is the rest of the equation. Set an alarm and stick to it. Make sure that everybody is up and at ‘em just like they will be for school. Ask older children to set their own alarm and hold them accountable to waking up when it goes off each morning. If you are at home with your kids over the summer break, lead by example. Get up and get ready as you would on a normal school morning.
Get Up and Out: For some families, simply getting up on time isn’t enough. If you or your little ones need more help getting back into a routine, try to schedule some morning activities that require everyone to get up and be ready fairly early. You can try to hit the park before it gets too warm or go to a public pool or splash pad. This will allow you to soak up the end of summer fun while getting the kids used to getting up and out each morning.
No doubt, kids will be tired the first week or two of school. Following these simple tips can help ease the transition from summer to school schedules. Remember to be patient with them and with yourself. Put sleep schedules on the list of back to school necessities and rest easy knowing you are setting your kids up for success this school year.