This is the first year when back-to-school actually means something significant, as my oldest will be starting kindergarten in just a couple of weeks. I’m probably one of the few people who is actually not displeased that the days start to get a little shorter but admittedly this is largely because I know it means we are heading back to more predictable bedtimes and routines, two of my favorite things.
If you are doing your own back-to-school preparation, here are a few sleep tips to keep in mind to make the transition away from lazy days as smooth as possible.
1. Give yourself the gift of time.
About a week or so before your child is ready to go back to school, begin to get yourself back in line with a school-sleeping schedule. Push bedtime back to its usual time and take care not to cram a bunch of end-of-summer activities in, especially during the late part of the day. If you are a blessed with that rare entity known as a child who sleeps in, begin to gently encourage a set wake-up time so that once school comes, they are not so startled by the change.
2. Get back to that bedtime routine.
Now’s the time to either implement a set bedtime routine or go back to the one that you had before the fun nights of summer took over. Be sure to carve out enough time each night for the routine so that you and your child don’t feel rushed. Use that time to connect and talk about the changes ahead with school starting. Many a great and insightful conversations take place during that sacred routine time. There are also dozens of back-to-school themed books to be shared at bedtime. Check out a list here.
3. Keep screen time to a minimum.
This is a really a rule that should be kept all year long as lights from LED screens are notoriously disruptive to sleep, children and grown-ups alike. At the very least, make a concerted effort not to ever allow them in a child’s room, but rather reserved for a shared living area activity, both to decrease the temptation to use them at night or in the early morning and also so that you can better monitor how and when they are used.
4. Talk about it.
Particularly with children (and parents!) who are new to this whole “structured day” type of thing (present company included), consider sitting down with your child or children to discuss what the house “sleep rules” are. Demonstrate to your child that you are equally committed to keeping yourself rested, why sleep is so important, and discuss your intention to follow your own advice!