Now that longer days are here and summer holidays are approaching, the excitement of playing outside, vacations and camping can cause sleep to be put on the back burner. Not everyone’s routine changes during the summer, however if you have long holidays or are off during the summer this may affect your day to day schedule. Without the rush of being out the door at a certain time, making lunches and catching the bus it’s easy to get out of routine. In are the days of lazy mornings, taking your time to get ready and day long pyjama days. But what about the nap and bedtime schedule? Where does that all fit in and how do you maintain some structure during the lazy days of summer? We’ve got a few tips to share on how to maintain a sleep schedule during the summer.
Taking a more relaxed approach towards your summer schedule is understandable and enjoying the time together as a family is important but you can still have some structure to help your little ones stay on track with their schedule without feeling like you can’t enjoy and have fun!
It all starts with the morning wake up
We get it! Summer holidays means summer sleep ins which is absolutely needed at times. What you don’t want is to get into a groove where your child is waking up at all different times each morning. This will cause their circadian rhythm which is their body’s internal clock to become out of sync. An out of sync circadian rhythm can make your child feel the same jet lag feeling as though they have flown to Japan! That can take the fun out of those summer activities.
If your child has shifted their entire day to day schedule, that would be okay. A little one who used to sleep 7pm-7am who is now sleeping 8:00am-8:00pm is still getting the recommended hours of sleep. You will want to be mindful of the child who goes to bed late but still wakes at their regular time or earlier.
Try to maintain your schedule as much as possible
Don’t get us wrong, we are not telling you that you should not enjoy ANY of your summer vacation. We are simply saying that it’s a good idea to keep on schedule as much as possible to maintain healthy sleep patterns.
As much as your child would enjoy staying up every night to catch fireflies, roast marshmallows, or star gazing, give them that wonderful learning opportunity, but try to keep it as a special treat vs an every night occurrence. Those special occasions will still remain a fond childhood memory.
The sounds of summer
A sound machine will be a very important tool during the summer to block out the early morning sounds of construction, the birds chirping very loudly or the late evening sounds of older children playing outside.
The early summer sun has a knack of shining brightly into everyone’s bedroom as early as you hear those birds chirping! Not to mention the fact that it is light outside significantly later in the evening than in the winter months. Investing in a great set of blackout curtains and blinds will keep your children’s environment nice and dark to promote healthy sleep.
Naps and daytime sleep
You may have older children home for the summer and a younger child that needs to nap. Try not to schedule activities surrounding naps everyday. The baby who needs to nap will become overtired which can start to cause challenges with night waking. Have some outdoor and fun activities for the older children to do during some of naptime but even the older children will benefit from some downtime. Reading, doing a quiet craft or activity etc. can also be beneficial to older children.
If both parents are home, divide and conquer. One parent takes the older children out while the little one naps at home with the other parent. Maybe you will be lucky to get a nap yourself too!
Morning nap on the go vs afternoon nap
There will be days that being out and about is just inevitable. Try and plan the on the go naps for in the morning so that the afternoon nap is at home and in their own space. Of the two naps, the afternoon nap is the most important as it is what gets your child through to bedtime and breaks up their day ensuring their overnight sleep does not suffer.
To summarize how to maintain a sleep schedule during the summer:
- Wake up at the same time each day
- Stay on schedule the majority of the time- late nights should be an exception, a ‘treat’
- Use a sound machine and blackout curtains
- Keep naps on the schedule as much as possible
- Divide and conquer where you can with older kids in the mix
- If you have to give up a naptime, make it the morning nap
Your summer holidays can still be a fun laid back adventure with your family and friends, just don’t forget the importance of great sleep for not only your children but for mom and dad as well! A well rested family is a happy family!