As you approach the end of September, it is normal to feel tired! It has been close to a month since your summer holiday season has ended. There are new routines that have begun since Labour Day, with the beginning of extracurricular activities, back-to-school and day-care. Fall is the time that you might be craving a little bit more sleep so that you are better equipped to deal with the busier days ahead – BUT is your child prepared? If your child has not yet gotten back into the groove of his regular sleep routine, now is the time!
Here are four great sleep tips to get you and your child back on track with sleep so that he can feel more energetic, focused for learning new skills, and be healthy – after all, sleep is the best medicine!
Educate About Healthy Sleep
Starting to teach our children about the benefits of sleep now is key! We easily speak with them about healthy eating, drinking lots of water, and exercising. Sleep is incredibly important for their well-being too. Discuss how sleep will allow them to play a favourite sport better, learn how to play a favourite instrument, and be more creative with art. Providing examples of the consequences when parents do not get enough sleep is also helpful. Perhaps our mood or patience levels change or we are more likely to get sick. This helps them to understand the benefits of sleep and reasons why they will want to reach their sleep goals. Understanding why is incredibly important!
One-on-One Time Before Bed
Include undistracted time with children after dinner time and before the bedtime routine begins. Eliminate all electronics, television, cleaning supper dishes and instead, spend time together. This creates time for families to slow down and see one another at the end of a busy day. Even just 15 minutes every day can make a big difference in eliminating stress and impatience at bedtime, creating a calmer, more relaxing bedtime routine and sounder sleep throughout the night.
Plan Your Week as Much as Possible
The more organized we are going into each week, the less time it will take to get ready in the morning. Being prepared for the next day allows us to feel less stressed at bedtime and get more hours of night time sleep, helping parents and children feel more rested!
Use the following strategies to help you plan for the next day
Determine a time that bedtime needs to happen so that children are getting the proper amount of sleep for their age (9 to 12 hours for children under the age of 10 years old).
- Use bedtime and morning routine charts that your children can easily follow.
- Spend 10 minutes on the weekend planning weeknight meals.
- Plan outfits for the week while folding and putting away laundry.
- Pack bags the night before for day-care, school and work.
- Have a family calendar hanging where everyone can see it.
Lead by Example
By showing children that we are prioritizing our own sleep needs, we help them want to do it for themselves also.
I have realized that many adults too are suffering with poor quality sleep. If parents are struggling with their own sleep goals, speaking openly to children about their sleep challenges and what they are planning to do to make improvements will help. This allows parents and children to make positive changes together. Remember, children are always learning by example through their parents. Some examples of how you can make healthy changes to your own sleep patterns are:
- Shutting down electronics an hour before bedtime.
- Creating a bedtime routine for yourself each night.
- Honouring your own bedtime hour (the ideal time for adults to go to bed is 10:00 p.m., waking at 6:00 a.m.)
Remember to stay on top of healthy sleep for you and your child! Everyone in your family will benefit.