By Alison McAdam, Sleep Consultant at Cheeky Sleeper
The school year is almost here! For parents and kids alike, gearing up for back-to-school is bittersweet. Gone are the carefree days of summer as you face the order and structure the school year brings. Here are some tips to make the transition a little easier on you, your child and the rest of the family.
1- Set an early bedtime
- After working with many families, I have found that most kids need a slightly earlier bedtime. Parents put kids to bed at 8 p.m. and they don’t settle till closer to 9 p.m. This frustrates parents to no end, and chances are, your child is frustrated as well. Asking repeatedly for attention, a glass water or an extra kiss and cuddle becomes a crazy routine. Surprisingly, moving bedtime even 30 minutes earlier can make bedtime easier on everyone.
- Many parents are apprehensive about initiating an early bedtime, but it’s not something to be scared of. Keeping your child well rested will help both their academic performance and emotional stability along with a grocery list of other benefits. Most 4 to 8 year olds require something in the range of nine to twelve hours of consolidated night sleep. For many, this equates to a bedtime between 7 and 8 p.m.
2- Prepare your house for sleep
- Introduce quiet games and activities such as puzzles, colouring or reading. If you are putting multiple children to bed at night, a Quiet Box can be helpful. Fill it with quiet toys they can only have a bedtime.
- Dim the household lights.
- Darken the bedroom—blackout curtains might help. Use the earlier sunsets to your advantage when you can.
- A noise machine can help drown out the happy sounds of the end of summer, loud trucks or traffic, the occasional bird or other outside distractions.
- Establish a short soothing bedtime routine: PJs, teeth, toilet, stories and bed. This consistent pattern signals that sleep is expected to come soon and helps children relax slowly into restful sleep.
3- Limit screen time
- Turn off all screens an hour before bedtime. In my house we try to limit screen time, and the result has been better behaved children (most of the time).
- Blue lights emitted from such devices have been shown to interrupt sleep.
4- Prepare your children for the upcoming changes
- Have a family meeting to come up with strategies for everyone to help with the morning and evening routine. This can include giving your children some choices about bedtime and wake-up times, outfits and simple ways they can help around the house. Create the sense of being part of the routine.
5- Start your new routines in advance
- Starting a new bedtime the night before the first day of school is unlikely to be successful for anyone. The nerves, the change and anticipation will win out the night.
- Start approximately two weeks before the first day of school by introducing the routine and practising the strategies from the sleep meeting. Start adjusting to the new bedtime by moving it fifteen minutes earlier every couple of nights until the desired bedtime is reached.
Bonus – Don’t forget your first-day-of-school photos—it’s the perfect way to see how much your children have changed at the end of the year.
Back-to-school should be an exciting time for your family, but finding the right balance can be a challenge. Once you start your back-to-school schedule, stick to it, be consistent and enjoy the return of normality to your daily life.
Wishing you a smooth transition and lots of joy with your children! If you need a guiding hand to prepare for back-to-school, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org . I would love to help with your back-to-school plan.
Mention that you saw my post on Maman Loup’s Den, and you will receive three extra days of support with the purchase of any sleep package at Cheeky Sleeper! I can help both in person and online!
About Alison McAdam
I am the owner and founder of Cheeky Sleeper – Sleep Consultants Ltd. I named my company after my own Cheeky Sleepers, ages 2 and 4.
I’ve believed for some time that sleep is fundamental to a child’s development. I took this passion and went back to school at the Family Sleep Institute to become a Certified Paediatric Sleep Consultant. I graduated and started Cheeky Sleeper in March 2017.
I love talking to, educating and coaching parents about safe sleep and sleep training using a variety of techniques. I hope to make www.cheekysleeper.com a go-to resource to educate parents about all aspects of family sleep.