Get Started Early to Get Kids to Bed Early
Like most parents, the most challenging part of starting a new school year is the transition from a summer schedule to a school schedule. During the summer, the kids stay up late watching TV, and are pretty free to do what they want. However, after last year when it took almost a month to get them on track, we have put together a checklist of easy changes you can make to ensure a smooth start to the school year.
The key is to give yourself enough time to make the schedule change, and give your kids enough time to adjust to new bedtimes and wake-up times.
Start early: Give yourself at least two weeks to make these adjustments. It takes time for adults to adjust to a new schedule, and it takes kids even longer.
Get up early: For the last two weeks before school starts, set a wake-up time (and stick to it). You can make it earlier by 15 minutes every few days to make the change gradual.
Get to bed on time: Like the wake-up time, begin getting your kids to bed earlier. Make the transition easier (and save yourself from some arguments) by letting them have a treat, but set expectation. For example, let them read a book in bed for 10 minutes for two nights, but each day remind them that the extra story time will be over on the third day.
Get diet in check: Summer schedules not only affect sleep times, they can affect meal times. Meals set the stage for successful sleep. Prepare quality meals and begin to adjust the time of these meals to the time they will be served during the school year. This includes not only dinner, but serving lunches at the time lunch is served at school.
Schedule activities: Keep your child active during the day as you adjust sleep and meal times. It will make it easier to get them to adjust to the new schedule. But be careful to reduce the activity level so the kids are not hyper by dinner time.
Bonus tip: Depending on what part of the country you live in, the sun may still be up late when school starts. Try giving your child an inexpensive sleep blindfold or other “sleep transitional object”. This recognizes that light may be a problem for your child, and gives the child a way to be in control of their sleep.
To summarize, give yourself enough time to adjust and address each area that has an impact on sleep for children.