When summer hits, your schedule goes out the window and kids can go to bed and wake whenever they please. But staying up late and sleeping until 10 isn't going to fly once the kids go back to school. Instead of jumping back into a school schedule all at once on the first day of school, it's best to ease into the transition. Here's how:
1. Make Sure They're Getting Enough Sleep
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First, make sure you know how many hours of sleep your kid should be getting for their age. Check out this printable chart which states sleep needs by age. Once you determine your kiddo's sleep needs, you can figure out when to shoot for an approximate wake up time and bedtime. For example, your child needs 10 hours of sleep and you need to wake up by 7 a.m. to get out the door on time? She'll need to go to bed by 9 p.m. each night.
2. Wake Them Up Earlier
However, even though you have an approximate bedtime in mind, don't begin adjusting bedtime first. Instead, start by waking your kids up at the time they'll need to be up for school. Christine Brown, founder and certified child sleep consultant at Bella Luna Sleep Consulting, says, "I recommend starting in the morning so that it begins to adjust the entire day towards their school schedule. If they wake up earlier in the morning, theory is that they will be tired enough at night to have an earlier bedtime."
3. Start at Least a Week Before School
Brown recommends starting at least a week before school starts to give children time to adjust. Most kids can take a shift to an earlier wake up time all at once. However, for children who are more sensitive and don't adjust to change as easily or if there is a huge gap between the current bedtime and the desired bedtime, Brown recommends making smaller shifts each day (15-30 minutes) to help the child to adjust more gently to the new schedule.
4. Turn off Electronics
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Brown also recommends quieting down the house and limiting screen time an hour before bedtime. "The blue light that is emitted from screens can be stimulating and can delay the onset of the sleepy hormone, melatonin," she says. "This can result in taking children a long time to settle into sleep and pushing bedtime too late so they aren't meeting their nighttime sleep needs." Instead, connect with your kids – read books, do puzzles, color, or play quietly. It's also a great time to start a soothing bedtime routine with your little one to help transition them to bedtime.
Transitioning to a back to school schedule doesn't have to be painful. Start early and make sure your little one is getting the sleep she needs so she's all set for learning on the first day of school.