The summer holidays or vacation days during the summer can be a very exciting time for school aged children. Whether they are at home alone or with parents, grandparents, in summer camps or in childcare, their routine will be a little bit different than the routine they follow while they are in school. Starting school is a busy time for all families and getting enough sleep is a must! No matter what grade your child will be going into, the adjustment does take time. Starting 2 weeks before the school year begins to get them back on track will really help with the adjustment. Here are some tips for getting sleep back on track after summer holidays:
Shifting the schedule
Your child may have shifted schedules while on holidays. They may be sleeping in later and going to bed slightly later. Your first step to getting them back on track for school would be to begin shifting their schedule back to the one that will work for them once they start school again. The first step in shifting the schedule begins with the morning wake up.
Wake them up in the morning
Getting their schedule back on track starts with morning wake up. Take a couple of weeks before school starts to begin to prepare them by waking them up earlier in the morning. If your child has shifted their schedule to a 9:00 am wake up and you are aiming for a 7:00 am wake up for the school days ahead, you would begin by waking your child up at 8:30am for a few days, then 8:00am, 7:30am and then 7:00 am. Be sure to adjust bedtime to help compensate for the early wake up.
If you are shifting your child’s schedule from the later schedule that it was during the summer back to the school time schedule, it is important to allow your child the opportunity to get a full night’s sleep by getting them to bed early enough. Based on the chart below, you can count backwards for your child’s appropriate bedtime based on the amount of recommended hours of sleep they need. Adjusting the bedtime needs to be done in 30 minute increments much like the morning wake up.
Create a regular sleep routine to get sleep back on track
Even if you had a great sleep routine going before the holidays, you may have been a little lax during the summer holidays. You may have been out and about frequently and your child would fall asleep in the car, or perhaps your days were so busy that bedtime became a rush of attempting to get the little ones to bed right away! Whatever the case may be, getting back on track with a calming bedtime routine with a decent amount of time for decompression will make bedtime run a lot more smoothly.
With your older child the routine may not be as significant but they will still need the time to decompress before bed. Reading is a great way for them to settle into bed and sleep without the harm of blue light from electronics.
Be mindful that in order to get sleep back on track, meal times may need to be adjusted as well.
Talk to them about returning to school
Your child may have some anxiety with the thought of going back to school. After all, they have been home or in care for the summer and have most likely become very comfortable with their new day to day routine. It is a big shift for them to have to get into a new routine again. Perhaps they are starting with a new teacher, or some of their friends from last year will be in a different class or they may be graduating to another school. Keep the conversation open and going, even with your reluctant teens, to help them open up or at least discuss some of the anxieties or nervousness about starting school again. Being able to offload some of the emotions and talk through their fears can go a long way in reducing the anxiety build up before the start of school.
Limit blue light
During the summer the rules surrounding electronics tend to be a little lax and we may allow for more t.v, tablet and phone time. For some, going to bed with their tablet or phone during the summer is a habit that really should be broken as the blue light that electronics emit actually causes the body to slow or stop the production of melatonin. This natural hormone allows the body to relax, fall asleep and stay asleep. On the spectrum of light, blue light is the worse light for sleep! Turning all electronics off 45-60 minutes before bed will ensure the body produces the melatonin needed for your child to fall asleep easily. It will be rough, especially for the older children but it really is necessary for healthy sleep.
Ensuring your child is getting the appropriate amount of sleep will not only help their emotional and physical development but it is also imperative for cognitive learning. It will allow them to retain the information they are learning and do well in school.
So, take the time to get to focus on getting your child’s sleep back on track before the new school year starts and enjoy your last few weeks of summer with your kids! If you need some extra guidance with this transition, check out our services page to see how we can help.
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