It’s mid-August and “back to school” is in full swing. The relaxed days of summer are over. Alarm clocks are set and parents have to once again juggle morning drop off with getting to work on time. School-age children have to remember how to get dressed before 10 am and come to the sad realization that brushing their hair is no longer optional. The struggle is real. What can we do to keep a happy and rested household during the transition and throughout the school year?
- Dive right back into your routine. Perhaps dinners have been later and not around the table together? Children thrive on a predictable and consistent schedule so getting back to basics now will help them be their best version of themselves at school and at home.
- Turn off electronics (yep, iPads count!) one hour before bedtime.
- Move bedtime earlier. Children ages six to 13 need nine to 11 hours of sleep each night. Keeping a child rested is one of the most important pieces of a child’s success in school. Sleep affects a child’s ability to retain information, engage in activities, and maintain emotional and behavioral stability. The American Academy of Pediatrics released a study today that shows a link between sleep and the risk of diabetes. Just try starting bedtime 30 minutes early! A bedtime of 8-8:30 pm seems to work best!
- Have a wind down routine in the evenings. As with infants and toddlers, having a bedtime routine is important for all of us. An hour leading up to bedtime:
- Turn off the TV, computer, and other electronics
- Calm the activities (think coloring vs. wrestling) and close the curtains throughout the house
- Bathe (this is great for getting the body physically ready for sleep) and get into PJs
- In your child’s room, read a book and cuddle up. Talk about your highs and lows of the day to check in with them.
- Make sure you’ve anticipated their needs/potential stalling tactics (gone potty, has water, stuffed animal, the pillow “just right”). As you offer up your goodnight hug and kiss, you might say, “Okay, you just went potty, you’ve got your water, and the grey blanket is on top. Goodnight love bug.”
- Lights out. Make sure you are leaving the room a few minutes before bedtime to allow the child to fall asleep at their bedtime.
This “back to school” thing is a big one! Be patient. Transitions take time. For your sanity, if possible, try and get up before the kids just to have 15-30 minutes of quiet to yourself before the chaos begins. You’ve got this.