For parents and kids alike ramping up for back to school could be the most wonderful time of the year. It’s August and the back to school merchandise has been available for a month.
Regardless of the age of your child, back to school means a shift from care free days, to the routine days of school. You might have any or all of the following to deal with: early morning wake ups, tired dinner times and/or overtired bedtimes. Please take a minute to read the following helpful strategies to help make the transition back to school a little easier for both you and your children.
Many parents are apprehensive of initiating 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. An earlier bedtime might be a great tool for those first few weeks of school. As your child adjusts to the busier requirements of their school days experts recommend moving bedtime back 10-15 minutes every few days till you find the right balance for your child. Most school aged children 4 years - 10 years old require something in the range of 10-12 hours of consolidated night sleep. If you know when you have to wake up your child you can calculate an appropriate bedtime. This will mean a 4 year old should be in bed closer to 6:30/7pm with a 6:30/7am wake up. An 8 or 10 year old might be able to tolerate a slightly later bedtime with the same wake up.
I highly recommend an earlier bedtime during the transition back to school to make sure you keep your household well rested. As your child adjusts to school you can shift bedtime back 15 minutes every couple of days, until you get to your desired bedtime. You will be amazed at the difference 15 or 20 minutes can make to your child.
A couple of weeks before school is set to start I would organize your routine to move the summer bedtime back to the school year bedtime. This will allow your children to slowly adjust to the new bedtime. This also means an appropriate wake up as well.
Prepare your house for Sleep by introducing Sleep Cues
Turn off all screens an hour before bedtime.
Introduce quiet games, puzzles, colouring, reading. Try and limit the rough or active play.
Try a Noise Machine that stays on for the night.
Darken the bedroom - blackout curtains will help.
Aim for a cool sleep environment around 20 degrees celsius.
Establish a short bedtime routine
A bedtime routine should be short and predicable. Bath, PJ's, Teeth, Story and final good night kiss. This can be any short combination that works for your family. If you are putting multiple kids to bed, either divide and conquer or use quiet activities for your other children.
Have a family meeting to work together to come up with strategies for everyone to help with the morning and evening routine.
Give your children a choice when you can. Would you like to go to bed at 7 or 7:05 pm? What time should I wake you up 6:30 or 6:35am? Would you like a bath or shower? Which outfit would you like to wear today your blue dress or your red t-shirt?
Give your kids the chance to help when you have time.
Try and keep weekends on a similar schedule.
Use daylight to your advantage and get outside and enjoy fresh air and exercise as much as possible. This will help with your families internal clock reset your internal clock.
Tidy the house and the bedrooms. A tidy bedroom can help your kids have a clear mind for bedtime.
Back to school should be an exciting time for your family but finding the right balance can be a challenge. It might be contentious but for young kids I would limit extra activities to the weekend. This will allow your child to be well rested so they can excel both at home and school.
Please find a smooth transition back to school and the joy in your kids. Reduce extra anxiety with back to school so please take every day in stride. If you are needing a guiding hand to help preparing for back to school please reach out to me firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to help with your back to school plan.
PS Don’t forget your first day of school photos