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Avoid The Bedtime Blues

sleep strategies for kidsIf your kids are like mine, they've been running wild all summer, going to sleep with the late summer sun. I love this kind of freedom and fun for summer holidays but know that it means disaster for school days when morning (and the bus!) comes so much earlier. 

Here are the steps we're taking to get everyone back on track:

  • Start sooner than later. Two nights before school starts won't really help. Two weeks is much better and approves the odds considerably!
  • Agree on the new routine to start. In my house, this means doing a little internet research together about how much sleep my kids will need to do their best in school. Once we have that magic number (ten hours for Madeleine, eleven hours for Carter) we work backward to find our new school year bedtime. Since kids often don't have a strong sense of what's involved to be sleepy enough to fall asleep, we spell it out--from the first step up the stairs to get on pajamas to lights out and sound asleep. This eliminates tons of arguing about why you need to start moving towards bed now even though bedtime is an hour from now.
  • Help your kids learn the routine by insisting that they try it out--even if they don't make it to bed on time quite yet. My kids have been out of the habit of bathing before bed all summer long--catching quick showers in the morning instead when they need to be presentable for various outings. There won't be that kind of leisurely pace come fall, so back to the bathtub at nighttime you go. Reminding them that this is the way it's going to be once again helps them get back in the groove sooner than later.
  • Start your bedtime routine 15-20 minutes earlier than usual each night until they are going to bed on time. The sun might still be out, but that's okay. All that will change in fall (depending on where you live!) and it will feel more reasonable over time. The point now is to start moving bedtime back gradually--if your kids have been going to bed at 9:30 (like mine) and now need to be in bed by 8:15 to make the school schedule, you need time to really help them adjust. Spreading it out over a week or two helps the bedtime feel totally normal when school starts.
  • Make sure you wake them up earlier each morning, too. My kids--even at six and nine--still love to sleep in in order to make sure they get all the hours they need. This is great for summer, but won't work for fall. By waking them up even 15-20 minutes earlier than usual, you are gently nudging them on the school schedule; this will make it easier, too, for them to fall asleep earlier at night.
  • Avoid movies and TV about two hours before bed. These kinds of things rev kids up and get their minds going. Besides, on school nights, how much TV will they really be watching? Start reducing your family media intake and help everyone settle down faster. More appropriate transition-to-sleep tools would be quiet soothing music, a calming bedtime story or gentle snuggle with a favorite stuffed animal.
  • Make a high-protein full breakfast appropriate for academic success. Having something yummy, nutritious and special to look forward to at breakfast can really help your kids pop out of bed and get ready for their day. You can save a special book to read to them over breakfast, too, as another way to bond and reduce all the fussing that can invariably happen on a start-of-the-school year morning.
How do you get back on track with bedtime when school starts?
Share your strategy with other MomsMatter moms!

by jenlemen on