Going back to school triggers mixed emotions for parents. On one hand we are so excited to hand those kiddos off to the teachers but on the other hand, it means back to the grind of getting the kids out the door before the bell rings. During the summer many children get used to staying up late and sleeping in until whatever time they please. It is hard to transition back to the school routine. Jumping into it cold-turkey is a recipe for a difficult first week. Here are 6 tips to easing your family into school mode from Chicago sleep expert Sabrina Stempel CSC, founder and owner of Baby Sleep Train™ and the Midwest Regional director for the Association of Professional Sleep Consultants:
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Create a Routine Chart
Create a visual routine chart with pictures (and/or words depending on your children’s ages), including every step they need to take on school days. Have them color it in or help hang it up in order to create excitement. Kids love visuals! Looking for a store bought chart? Then check out this fun option.
1-2 weeks before school starts, start getting your kids reacquainted with their usual bedtime. Bedtimes can vary from child to child but these are typical bedtimes for these ages: On average a child Nursery – 1st grade should be going to bed around 7pm, 2nd-4th grade around 8pm, and 5th through 8th grade around 9pm (and those high school kids… well… Ha! Good luck!). If your children have to wake up very early for school, they might need an even earlier bedtime. Move bedtime earlier by 20 minutes each night until you have them back at their goal bedtime.
Wake Them Up!
Sounds crazy I know! Often kids have gotten used to sleeping in late during the summer as a result of staying up veeeery late. Similar to #2, staring from about a week before school starts; wake them up 20 minutes earlier each day until they are waking up at the time they need to be up for school. This “Ready to Wake” clock is popular with creating sleep independence.
Black Out Shades
Since we still have a while until we turn the clocks back, consider purchasing blackout shades to nip the “but it’s still light out” argument in the bud. There are so many affordable and stylish blackout curtains to match any and all decor, or try temporary blackout shades, which can be purchased at any hardware store.
Cut Down on Sugar
Kids get used to having sugary treats in the summer. Start cutting down on their sugar consumption at least in the second half of the day. Too much sugar close to bedtime negatively impacts a child’s quality of sleep and can cause difficulties falling asleep. Instead try incorporating foods with a high concentration of tryptophan, a sleep inducing amino acid. Some examples are bananas, poultry, meat, and legumes.
Limit Screen Time
When a child’s (or really anyone’s) eyes are exposed to blue light from screens, melatonin production is inhibited. This results in difficulty falling asleep at bedtime. Make your home a no-screen-time-zone from at least 30-60 minutes before bedtime. This includes phones, tablets, TVs, and computers.
Sabrina offers more than just back to school sleep tips. She can help your family get the sleep you need and deserve by creating a custom sleep plan so your family sleeps well throughout any and all seasons. Sabrina can be reached at Sabrina@babysleeptrain.com or 773-234-3217 for a complimentary 15 minute phone consultation. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram and visit her website to learn more about her services.