It is back to school time. Back to school means back to routine! It has been a long and fun summer! For many, this summer meant catching up with family, traveling and attending many events that were postponed last year due to the pandemic. Calendars were filled and your family’s sleep tank may have been depleted. Late bedtimes, skipped naps, and little to no routine or structure.
This year is different then previous back to school years! After the last couple of years, your child may need some extra time to prepare for going back to school. Now, would be a great time to start to prepare your child and your entire family by bring back bedtime and bringing back routine!
Start the school year of right
Start the school year off with a well-rested family so that your child is not struggling through the first weeks of school trying to catch up. In a few weeks, your child will have to start to get up earlier and maintain a schedule. They will need time to adjust to the school schedule whether they are going back to school or going to school for the first time.
Sleep is important to your child’s learning and overall health! A well-rested child is able to concentrate better and remember more. A well-rested child will also have a healthy immune system that will fight off the many germs that they will be exposed to when they are back in a roomful of other children.
Here are tips to get your child ready for the first day of school:
- Start a few weeks in advance to allow enough time for your child to adjust. Just like when your body is recovering from jet lag when you travel, your child needs time to adjust to the new schedule. You can slowly move your child’s schedule by pushing back their bedtime 15-30 minutes a night. You can’t catch up on sleep debt going to bed early the night before school starts.
- Be Mindful of Fear and Anxieties. This year going into the new school year may be different than previous years. Our children have seen, heard and experienced so much. They have seen or felt their parents fear and anxiety. So, let’s address it! Thoughts and feelings that are not spoken often lead to more fears. A family meeting is a great time to discuss sleep and expectation as well as discuss any fears that your child is experiencing. During the family meeting you can set up routines. Routines and structures will help your child come to know what to expect and that structure can help your child find security and comfort. It is often the unknowns that causes fear and worry!
- Get back to having a routine. This is a great way to help your child relax their minds and bodies for sleep. Here are some tips for a back to school routine for your child. Break down the hour before bedtime into 20-minute segments. This will help your child begin to slow down from the busyness of the day. Even older tweens and teens need this wind down time!
⌚️1st 20 minutes: Prepare for the next day. This will make the morning smoother as well. Here are some suggestions: Get you child’s backpack ready to go, pack a lunch, and pick out clothes for the next day.
⌚️2nd 20 minutes: Prepare for bed. This is where your child will take care of their personal needs such as taking a shower, brushing teeth, use the bathroom and putting on PJ’s.
⌚️3rd 20 minutes: Prepare to wind down. These activities are done in their bedroom. Here are some suggestions: read a favorite book, do yoga, meditate, try some tapping, mindfulness or have some alone time with your child to talk. A new practice that your child might enjoy during the bedtime routine, is to tell you what their best part of the day was. What a wonderful way to end the day! This will also be great one-on one-time once school starts and life gets busy.
4. Make sure to stop screen time at least an hour or two before bedtime. This would include TV, computer games, phone and internet usage. These activities make it hard for children (and adults) to calm down and can interfere with sleep. You can set up a docking station for all your electronics outside the bedroom each night to keep the temptation of having these items close at hand.
5. Set a wake-up time that will prepare your child for school (even on weekends). Set the alarm for same time that they will be expected to rise when school starts. Even on weekends, keep the time within an hour of the weekday wake up schedule.
How much sleep does your child need?
Your child will need to get up at a certain time for school each day. Once you know the amount of sleep that is recommended for your child’s age, you can figure out what thier bedtime should be.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends nightly sleep durations for all ages as follows:
Preschool-(3-5 year of age): 10-13 hours per night
School Age-(6-13 years of age): 9-11hours per night
Teens-(14-17 years of age): 8-10 hours a night
Make sleep a priority
Sleep is as important as healthy eating and getting daily activity. We get so busy with life; it is easy to push sleep aside making other tasks more important. This can interfere with our child’s health and school success. The first day of school will flow much easier if you start now on bringing healthy sleep habits back into your household before the ringing of the bell.