With the last long weekend of summer coming soon, the countdown is on for back-to-school! To ensure that our children feel rested and at their best when the bell rings on the first day, it is important to make sure that they are receiving the proper amount of good quality sleep.
If summer time took your children way off track with their sleep schedules (ie. they are sleeping until noon but are no where near the teenage years yet!) here are my essential sleep tips for getting sleep back on track, starting tonight.
Start an early bedtime now.
There is no time like the present to get your children into an early bedtime routine before the first day of class. Start now – make sure that children are going to sleep no later than 8:00 p.m. so that they can get 9-11 hours of much needed sleep! Children will go through 5 sleep cycles, 5-6 times per night and each one is essential to help them focus, be creative, solve problems and be in a good mood at school. Not getting enough night time sleep means being forgetful, grumpy, impatient and can cause difficulty listening to teachers. For children that are in their first or second year of Kindergarten (as young as 3 or 4 years of age in Ontario), be prepared for overtiredness. If they are showing signs of fatigue, such as having more melt downs than usual, then moving bedtime earlier by even just 15 minutes can help them become more rested.
Use bedtime/morning routine charts.
Bedtime routine charts are an excellent tool to help re-establish that bedtime routine that may have been lacking or non-existent during the more flexible days of summer vacation. Creating one with children is easy by talking about the different steps in their routine, using clip art for a visual and posting it in their bedroom.
Morning routine charts are also an extremely useful tool to help with getting back in the groove for busier mornings. Having a list for children with important steps like, brushing teeth, getting dressed, and packing their lunch will eliminate frustration and that rushed feeling before heading out the door. Having a chart is both a fun checklist that children enjoy using each morning and a mental checklist for parents to refer to as well!
Implement school wake-up time.
In order to set children up for success on the first day of school, begin implementing the morning wake-up time now. If children are still sleeping in later than they will on a school day, then it is time to push bedtime even earlier. Getting enough sleep means waking up easily on their own and feeling rested without an alarm or wake-up call from parents.
Completing as many tasks as possible before school mornings is crucial to help the morning flow more easily. Decide on school-safe snacks to keep handy in the pantry along with grab and go fruits and vegetables, label all clothing and shoes before the first day, and select 5 days of school outfits with your child on Sunday night. Making a list of simple and nutritious dinners such as pasta, vegetables, and a protein or a taco night will minimize the after school dinner rush too. Decide on the weekend and refer to your list each morning!
Parent’s sleep needs.
Taking care of our own sleep needs as parents is essential to enjoying and succeeding in the awesome role of raising children. Be kind to yourself and make sure that you are getting 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep too. Turn off all electronics at least 1 hour before bedtime, and create your own bedtime routine to help yourself stay on track with sleep, along with your child, during the busy and fun back-to-school season!