6 Back-To-School Sleep Tips From Bayou Slumber Sleep Consulting

By Margaret Guccione July 30, 2021

Summer will soon be ending, and it will be back to school time again. But, oh no!, your usual schedule is now inconsistent and your child has been going to bed later than usual. 

How do you get them ready to go back to school and wake up at a decent time with as little fuss as possible?

Let me just start off by saying there is no judgment for what might have gone down the past few months. I am a child sleep consultant, but also a mother of a toddler myself. 

Summer months are precious and can mean extra time with your kids, making you want to squeeze every minute of fun and togetherness you can from these days. 

If it's a choice between consistent bedtime and staying up to finish the swimming party or watch fireworks, there is no choice at all. 

You have every right to want to enjoy these moments, even if it means your usual schedule is altered.

So no matter what happened over summer vacation, all is forgiven. 

You now have the mission to get your child back on track and get them to sleep at a reasonable time so they will be rested and ready to go back to school.

Here are my top tips for working back toward a schedule to have your kids ready for school:

1. Set a bedtime and stick to it.

Let’s talk about what time your kids should go to bed. You may be surprised to hear that I recommend a bedtime somewhere between 7-8 p.m. at night. This time is recommended for ages up to 12 years old. Yes, I said 12 years old! There are 2 reasons why kids should be in bed and sleeping by 8 p.m. First, kids need at least 10 hours of sleep per night, but if they get more, that’s even better. If your child needs to be up by 7 a.m. in order to get ready and get to school on time, they should be asleep by 9 p.m. at the latest. Now, we all know that kids do not fall asleep as soon as they get into bed, so factor in some time for them to make this transition. If your child is like mine, you know it is inevitable that they will be asking to go to the potty, get a drink of water or the other million requests so factor this in as well. This is the reason I recommend having them in bed for 8 p.m. Second, you as a parent and your partner (if one exists) need your child-free alone time for at least a few hours a day. Once your child goes down, this will allow you time to watch your favorite adult shows on TV, talk with your partner or just unwind from the day before you have to go to bed. This time is vital to your mental health and your relationship with your partner. Now you know when to put your child to bed, but let's talk about the more difficult issue of how to actually do this.

2. Don’t leave your schedule change to the last minute.

Hopefully you are reading this with a few weeks to spare before school starts, because the easiest way to make this transition is little by little. If your little one has been going to bed at 9 p.m. for most of the summer, try moving bedtime up by 15 minutes every 4 days until they are back to their normal bedtime. If this requires a little deception on your part, like adjusting the clock in their room, then do what you need to do. It is for their benefit in the long run.

3. Establish a bedtime routine.

If you were following a good, consistent bedtime routine before summer, then try to re-implement it as closely as possible. By sticking with something familiar, you will have more success and hopefully less resistance from your child. On the other hand, if this is your first time trying to implement a bedtime routine, here are some tips. First off, let me mention how much easier a consistent, repetitive routine can be. A good routine may look something like this: bath, brush teeth, pajamas, books and then into bed. Be consistent and stick to the same routine every night. When your child’s brain and body get used to a consistent routine, they will start to associate this with winding down to get ready to sleep, and it will enhance the body’s production of the sleep hormone melatonin. So, a consistent bedtime routine lasting about 30 minutes is a must!

4. Use a timer to help ease transitions.

Usually kids enjoy a bath and books, but they can have a tendency to try and negotiate for more time, thus prolonging your routine. A timer can help you stay on schedule and help your child know when to make transitions. Plus, getting your children ready to transition at the sound of a bell or timer will help them recognize what to do in the classroom when it's time to switch tasks or classes even.

5. Turn off those screens.

It is common to ease up on rules surrounding TV, video games and other electronics kids may use before bedtime. After all, during the summer, there is no homework to be done so you may have allowed them more time on their devices. The thing about screens is that they put out a ton of blue light, and our brains associate blue light with sunshine and daytime. Screens before bed can have the opposite effect we are trying to achieve. This can also interfere with decreasing the production of the sleep hormone melatonin, making it harder for your child to wind down and eventually go to sleep. Try to avoid any screen time for at least 1-2 hours before bed. This is true for adults, too, so if you are having trouble with sleeping, try reading a book before bed versus watching TV.

6. Darkness is your friend.

It may still be light outside until close to 8 p.m. and, just like light from screens, sunlight can still be stimulating at this time. If your child’s bedroom is still very light when you are trying to put them down to sleep, then it is wise to invest in something to increase darkness. It does not have to be anything fancy. You can buy things that are pretty inexpensive from Amazon, including blackout blinds, curtains or adhesive window film. Whatever route you choose, get the sunlight out of the room. Now, we all know kids can give pretty convincing arguments to try and get what they want. This may happen when it comes to bedtime and your child wanting to stay up later. Remember, you should be sticking with an earlier bedtime like 7-8 p.m. for years to come. The sooner they accept this being the norm and their summertime hours as a special circumstance, the easier the whole bedtime thing will be for you and them. 

I hope everyone had a wonderful summer and is looking forward to starting school again. I promise your kids will adapt much better and have a more positive outlook to starting school if they are well rested and getting plenty of sleep. If you have any sleep struggles in addition to getting your kid back on a routine for school, please contact me. I work with babies and children of all ages, from newborn to school age. I offer a free 15-minute assessment call to further discuss your child’s sleep issues. To sign up, please visit my website here.

To Healthy Sleep,

Margaret Guccione

Bayou Slumber Sleep Consulting

( 337) 385-9265

**First Lesson FREE With Paid Registration & Code MACKID**



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