Summer is my favorite time of year because we get a break from the constant momentum of the school year. It’s a great time for families to travel and enjoy unplanned days. Bedtimes usually become more lax, due to constant bright sunlight and a more care-free routine.
Even though it still feels like summer, schools are preparing to open in the coming weeks. Sleep can be a major issue during the back to school period. Here are some of my best tips to help you stay sane during the back to school frenzy:
Acknowledge that there will be anxiety.
The start of a new school year can bring anxious thoughts from both parents and children, which can often lead to restless sleep or drawn-out bedtimes. Validate your child’s fears and anxieties. Role play new situations and how they might handle them.
Start shifting sleep schedules a couple of days in advance.
If your child’s bedtime has inched later during the summer, they will probably need to start transitioning a couple of days in advance to their new school schedule. Many elementary schools start early in the morning, so make sure your child is well-rested by bumping up bedtime in the days before.
Limit electronics at least an hour before bedtime.
Exposure to blue light (those emitted by electronics) suppresses melatonin levels (your sleepy hormone). Also, many seemingly harmless T.V. shows can cause nighttime anxieties and fears.
Allow plenty of time to un-wind.
Create a nice soothing wind-down routine for bed. Allow for plenty of mellow time before bed. Maybe turn down the lights and play quiet music, or read a few extra books.
Play outside after school.
Allow for plenty of outside time. Your children were used to playing outside in the summer sunlight, but now spend hours in a classroom with artificial light. Getting some fresh air and vitamin D will help their mood, energy, and circadian rhythm.
Make sure you have a structured bedtime routine and that you stay consistent. It can help to put a poster up in your child’s room with their routine laid out (pictures work great for young ones). For example, if you agree on 1 drink of water before bed, don’t give in to those extra water requests. Being consistent in the first few weeks will help set a more structured tone.