Published on August 15th, 2016 | by SOMDParents0
Back to School Bedtime Routines
The school year is just around the corner. Are your kids ready to begin (or continue) a school night bedtime routine?
Getting kids into bed at a reasonable time can be a hassle, especially when they have just spent the entire summer staying up late watching movies and playing video games. It can be quite the adjustment going from staying up until midnight and waking up whenever to going to bed early and waking up early to get ready for school. If your child has been sleeping in this summer, they probably have been hitting the recommended sleep amounts for their age. If they stay on the same track, they will more than likely lose several hours of needed sleep when they begin to get up in the 6am-7:30am range.
To thrive academically, kids of all ages—preschool through college—need to have energy, the ability to focus, concentrate, retain information, and be creative problem solvers. Success at school also requires kids to control impulses and manage emotions and behavior to keep on track. All of these skills depend heavily on healthy, consistent sleep.
How many hours of sleep does your child need?
As school lurks around the corner, helping your child transition to an earlier bedtime and wake-up time is something you should attempt gradually, especially if summer has changed the regular schedule drastically. Give yourself at least two weeks before school starts, if possible. (That’s tonight for those of you living in Charles or Calvert County–kids start August 29th, St. Mary’s kids go back August 24th!)
To gradually set your children’s bedtime, work in 15 minute intervals, moving bedtime 15 minutes earlier every two or three days until you get back to the desired bed time. Remember to also move the other parts of the bedtime routine like making dinner and bath time earlier, too.
When you know that waking up earlier is going to be a challenge, it can be useful to talk to your child about how you’ll work together to make it easier. Does your child want an alarm clock instead of you nagging at them? Can you set out clothes to wear the night before to make morning dressing easier?
Younger children may benefit from a checklist that includes the tasks they need to accomplish before heading to school or starting the day. Consider making your own morning routine chart like the one below!
Weekend pro-tip: Try to keep weekend wake-ups within an hour or so of the weekly wake-up time, especially if your child is not a creature of habit by nature. Left to sleep too long, in only a few days a vulnerable child can shift their sleep phase (periods of waking and sleeping) in such a way that they have trouble getting back on their usual schedule.
So, add “ bedtime routine” to your back-to-school to-do list. You’ll thank yourself when it’s easier to rise and catch the bus on that first day of school!