Back to School & Back to Sleep

Every year, this time comes. Parents are secretly excited to get back into some semblance of a routine, kids are eager to see their friends, but sad the days at the pool or chasing their siblings around the house are about to come to an end. It’s that time, yes, back to school season.

For some, school has already resumed, and those hot summer days by the pool are an all too distant memory. For many, school starts up in just a few days and that first morning wake-up is sure to be a doozy. I am here to provide you with 5 tips for getting back to school and getting everyone back to a normal sleep routine.

School-aged children running to the door on their first day!

These 5 tips will have everyone getting the sleep they need, just in time for that first school-bus pickup.

  1. Get Back to a “normal” bedtime. The guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics sets guidelines for sleep & many parents don’t realize the amount kids should be sleeping — even all the way through high-school! If you let summer nights and sleeping in get a bit out of sync this summer, that’s ok — there is a fix that you can have in place for their first day. Determine the appropriate bedtime for your son or daughter. Then, every day, move their current bedtime back by 10 minutes, until you reach the desired time. Their bodies and body clocks adjust in the first week, so stick with it!
  2. Re-Establish (or establish) a set bedtime routine. This gives them a clear understand it’s about to be bedtime, so they know what to expect and can begin the process of winding down from the day. Keep the routine to 30 minutes, otherwise kids will drag it out for hours just to delay the inevitable.
  3. Shut Down Electronics. I tell all clients this one, and it even surprises adults. Electronics shed ‘blue light’ which has a stimulating effect on the brain. This makes it hard to settle, for kids or adults. This means no phones in the bedroom, no tablets…nada. Reach for a good old-fashion book, puzzle or a story that will help kids to drift off to sleep. Do you have an older child who struggles at bedtime? Try drawing four blocks on a piece of paper, have them give you 4 answers to a question you ask them. Write them in the blocks. Then, at bedtime, grab that paper and have them pick a topic and ask them to think about a story that goes with what they selected and give them a mission to think about it and tell you their story in the morning. (This helps with anxiety and children who fear bedtime, often calms nightmares too.)
  4. Limit Sugar Intake. Sounds easy — right? No popsicles for bedtime, well that’s obvious, but did you know that a single whole milk Chobani Vanilla yogurt has almost the ENTIRE day’s recommended sugar intake for a child in that one little cut. Guidelines suggest that children between the ages of 2 & 18 consume no more than 25g in a single day. I started reading labels of everything we ate and was shocked to find out how much sugar was in foods. I now do my best to cook foods without refined sugar and this is a great place to start — 100 days of Real Good.
  5. Fresh air & fun in the Sun. Encourage your kids to get outside, play hide & seek, bounce a ball, whatever they are into. That activity is important to their bodies, but also helps them to prepare for a solid night of rest. It can even be something you turn into a family activity or chore, like walking the dog or a post dinner family walk around the neighborhood. Some good family time is nice, even if it’s just feasible once a week!

Getting back into a routine is tough, lazy days of summer are fun but it’s important to get everyone the sleep they need to be the best version of themselves.

If you need help getting back on track, or would to learn more about me and the services I offer family, check out my website, Tiny Transitions, here.

Like what you read? Give Courtney R. Zentz a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.