Back to school season is upon us! And if you’re like me, that means you need to do some serious work on your children’s back to school sleep routines. Not to worry, though – I have tips! Keep reading to learn how you can reel in bedtime, roll back the morning wake-up call, and get your child on a better, healthier sleep schedule just in time for school.
1. START EARLY
You need at least a few days (possibly more like a week or two) to start rolling your child’s schedule back in time for the start of school. Simply put, you’ll want to start putting your child to bed a little earlier each night, and waking her up a little earlier the next morning. Doing this gradually is better than taking a “cold turkey” approach and doing it all at once, which runs the risk of your child becoming overtired.
2. TIDY UP THE BEDTIME ROUTINE
Many of us have more…ahem…relaxed bedtime routines in the summer (myself included!), but start working towards a more consistent bedtime routine in preparation for school. Nix all electronics usage at least an hour before your child’s bedtime, and then go through the same series of steps each night; this consistency will provide a strong signal that it’s time for your child to settle in and fall asleep.
3. MAKE CHANGES NOW, NOT LATER
If you know you’re going to need to adjust your child’s schedule at some point this fall (maybe due to an after-school commitment, or because your younger one’s nap conflicts with school pick-up), make the changes now, so that your child has time to prepare. This will save you big headaches down the road, as you won’t have to make rushed, last-minute changes that can leave your child cranky and exhausted.
4. USE THE WEEKENDS AT FIRST…
…but don’t rely on them indefinitely. Your child will no doubt be exhausted after the first week or two of school; that’s normal! It’s fine to use the weekends to help your child catch up on sleep at first and to adjust to the new schedule. However, if your child needs complete schedule consistency (and some do) then know that you may not be able to routinely use a different sleep schedule on the weekend.
5. PUT IN PREP WORK
Even the best sleep routines and schedules don’t make getting up earlier any easier! That’s why it’s a good idea to do prep work each night to make your morning simpler. Have you child lay out clothes the night before, to reduce any early-morning wardrobe drama. Pack lunches the night before, and try laying out breakfast dishes before you go to bed. You could also consider, if your child is younger, having a picture guide of the morning routine, so that your child knows what to do next and understands what to expect.
This sounds like a lot of work, I know – but in my experience, putting in this work early-on prevents fussiness and chronic exhaustion down the road. It is way easier to lay this groundwork now, gradually, before you’re in the thick of the school season. And The Baby Sleep Site™ can help!
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