Updated: Aug 25
I remember being a kid and I hated getting out of bed for school! It was especially difficult after summer vacation. I struggled with falling asleep and laid awake a lot at night, this went well into my twenties actually. I had a few years where I was a full blown insomniac! So I know the struggle I gave my parents at night and in the morning, and to be honest, it wasn't fun going through it myself. But for whatever reason, many kids have this FOMO about going to bed! I strongly believe that my childhood sleep issues just continued on through my whole life, and it wasn't until I had my own kids that my sleep started to improve! Once I sleep trained them and got them sleeping 12 hours a night, my sleep issues resolved themselves!
But back to your kids! School is quickly approaching and it is time to start thinking about helping your kids with the transition back. I have you some great tips to prepare them for the early morning wake ups that are fast approaching!
So, let’s talk strategy! It all starts with a solid bedtime routine and an age appropriate bed time. I recommend that all kids, from 3 months to 12 years, go to bed between 6:30-8:00pm. I know that sounds really early, but little ones need 10 -12 hours sleep per night. The good news for you is that an early bedtime also gives you much needed time alone or time with your spouse! We love our children dearly, but it’s important to have some time to ourselves to reset from the day. Whatever time you decide bedtime is, be consistent with it! Kids do best when things are predictable and consistent. If bedtime is currently 10PM, you will want to adjust them slowly. I recommend moving their bedtime up 20 mins, every 3-5 days or so.
A solid bedtime routine is important for everybody, not just kiddos. It should be about 25-30 mins long and be the same each night. A calming routine will send a signal to your mind and body that it’s time to get ready to fall asleep. I also suggest turning off screens an hour or so before bedtime, because blue light will interfere with their bodies natal release of melatonin, and impact their ability to fall asleep with ease. So instead of tv or an iPad, get your child a great book and read it with them. Reading is great activity to do before bed (shocker, I know!)
I also suggest getting a toddler clock to help signal to them that bedtime is coming. If they are really young, you can even place the blame on the clock and walk away without any blame (parent win!) I have a podcast episode discussing my favourite toddler clocks, and how to use them (listen to it here!) You can buy the Hatch, or Groclock, on Amazon.
Creating a soothing environment in the bedroom with help as well. It should be cool and dark. I STRONGLY suggest putting blackout blinds in all of the bedrooms of your home. Even the smallest amount of light can interfere with your natural release of melatonin. It’s summer time, the sun is still out until late at night and this definitely impacts our internal clock (circadian rhythm.) There are tons of really nice (sometimes expensive) blackout blinds out there, THESE are cheap and easy to install on any window. I promise this will help everyone get a better quality of sleep!
Another thing to consider is nutrition. You’ll want to avoid sugar and caffeine in the evening, as these give us energy. Eating right before bed can also hinder a good night’s sleep. If you go to bed with a full stomach, your body is not able to rest as it is too busy digesting your midnight snack! If you do offer your child a snack before bed, as I know many young children enjoy, be sure that it is something light (think fruit, small bowl or cereal or yogurt). Give this blog a read on how nutrition impacts sleep.
Lastly, a Reward Chart can be a great way to motivate you little one towards to the right behaviours. Download my free reward chart here!
If your child, school aged or not, is having difficulty with their sleep, please don’t be nervous to ask for help! It’s not all common knowledge and there is no shame in seeking information. I hope that these tips help you make the transition back to school a little bit smoother. Good luck <3
Founder of Counting Sheep
Certified Sleep Coach