Summer officially ends for many of us when the school year starts. We’re lucky in Wyoming that school starts after Labor Day. In other states, classes begin mid-August.
Maybe you’ve been traveling and camping and staying up late this summer, which means your kiddos have gotten out of their bedtime routines and have been staying up late. Going back to school usually means back to schedules and routines.
But the transition from summer to the routine of the school year isn’t always easy. So here are some strategies to get back in sync.
1. Don’t wait until school starts.
That’s why I’m writing this a couple of weeks before school is back in session. Your child will need some time to adjust to an earlier bedtime. So I suggest moving bedtimes back 15 minutes every four nights or so. You can start two weeks before school starts. (Monday, Aug. 20, would be an ideal time.)
2. Set a timer.
This is a great way of taking the blame away from you. It’s not you rushing them to bed, it’s the timer. You can use it for outside time before bath time, or story time. Or for the whole bedtime routine. My favorite is the Time Timer.
3. Turn off screens before bed.
Computer, TV and phone screens all emit blue light. Blue light suppresses melatonin, the hormone that tells our bodies it’s time to sleep. My advice is to turn off electronics after dinner and keep them off until the next morning. (That goes for parents, too.)
4. Have a bedtime routine.
Whether your child is a baby or a teenager or anywhere in between, a good sleep routine is essential. A consistent routine signals the brain that bedtime is coming, so the brain starts shutting down to get ready to go to sleep.
5. Schedule an appropriate bedtime.
Children need 10 to 12 hours of sleep a night. If you are waking your child up every day to get ready for school, he’s not getting all the sleep he needs. You can calculate bedtime by starting with what time he needs to get up in the morning. So if 7 a.m. is the time to get up and he needs 11 hours of sleep, an 8 p.m. bedtime is appropriate.
6. Keep the room cool and dark.
The sun is still setting late and rising early in late summer, so make sure you have blackout blinds that keep the light out. I like BlackoutEZ blinds because they block the light completely and keep the room cooler, too. The ideal temperature for sleep is between 62 and 69 degrees.
7. Allow some reading time.
Whether you’re reading to your children 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. In case you’re wondering what to do without screens, reading is it.
8. Remove temptation.
Older kids with cellphones can be tempted to be on their phones once they’re in bed if they’ve got their phones with them. You can keep their chargers in the kitchen and have them plug in before bed.
Sleep is extremely important for our children’s learning and development. I hope these tips help them get the rest they need to perform well at school and lead happy and healthy lives.