Our need for sleep changes as we grow – are your kids getting the right amount for their age?
August has arrived. For parents, this means endless back to school shopping, scheduling and maybe a tantrum or 5 along the way. You might be anxiously waiting to put the little ones on the school bus in a few weeks but you know you’ll be fighting back tears when they wave from the window, wishing for one more week of summertime bliss.
One of the tougher things about back to school is getting your child off the “sleep as long as you want” routine that happens in the summer, and onto the “you’d better get up or you’ll miss the bus” routine in the fall. As a parent, you’re also affected by the routine change of waking up earlier to make sure everyone is ready for the day. Aside from the ridiculous laundry list of everything that needs to be done, it all starts with a good night’s sleep for YOU.
Stop the suffering. Don’t let the stress of back to school get to you.
9 sleep hacks to ease into the back-to-school routine for your kids
- A week before the first day of school, start easing everyone back into the routine of getting up early. Practice by getting up a little earlier each morning – even if it’s only 15 minutes earlier each day – until you reach the time when you’ll get up for school. Make it enticing with a fun breakfast plan.
- Once you’ve reached a reasonable sleep and wake time, stick to it. After an activity-filled weekend keeping to a routine will help when the first day of school hits.
- Netflix and other apps can be great to stimulate a young mind but after a long day try limiting electronics 30 minutes before bedtime. For the older kids who have their own cell phones, create a family charging station for overnight. This will keep them off their phones before bed and throughout the night. A good rule for adults too!
- Complete chores and homework well before bedtime. Don’t leave anything until the last minute, as your child’s mind and yours need time to settle before it’s time for light’s out.
- Calculate the best bedtime for everyone in the family. Elementary-aged school children should be snoozing between 10-12 hours a day – surprising, right? It’s crucial for youngsters to get the right amount of sleep so they can function a full day in school. This sleep by age chart will help you set a few guidelines for the whole family.
- Start a tradition of reading a bedtime story. This isn’t just for the youngest children, as even the older kids can enjoy a family book together. If your children think they’re too old to be read to, have them read a book to themselves or to you for 20 minutes or so before turning out the lights. Opt for a “real” book instead of an electronic one to avoid excess lights.
- Create a bedtime routine, both for you and your children. About an hour before light’s out, get things done like packing books and laying out clothes for the next day, taking showers or baths, brushing teeth, and putting on pajamas. If you do the same thing each night before bed, the routine will start becoming a cue for everyone that it’s almost time for sleep.
- Keep the bedrooms cool and comfortable. The best temperature for sleep is between 60 and 68 degrees.
- Do a bedding check for everyone, replace old worn-out pillows and blankets. Let them pick out their favorite patterns and they’ll start getting excited for bedtime. If their mattress is a few years old, it might be time to replace their mattress as well.
Change can be hard, especially when it’s time to end summer fun and go back to school. Have a family meeting to reminisce about your awesome summer and plan ahead for the school year, discussing routines and why it’s important to get plenty of rest for school.