6 Back To School Sleep Tips

– Written by JoAnna Inks 

Baby Wearing Glasses

I’ll start off by saying, sincerely, no judgment from me about what might have gone down in the past few months with your kiddos sleep!  I promise! 

As a sleep consultant for infants & children, people often think I’m going to chastise them for schedule inconsistencies, late bedtimes, or any other unenforced rule around bedtime that may have taken place over the summer vacation.

I’m a mother myself, and I get it!  I really do. These summer months are precious, and we try to squeeze as much fun as we can into these days.  If it’s a choice between bedtime and some fireworks, I mean c’mon! Fireworks – Every. Single. Time!

I once woke my older son up when he was about 3 out of a deep sleep because I promised he could watch the fireworks.  Talk about going against my sleep wisdom!

All is forgiven for what might have happened over the summer 😉 

Now, our mission is to get your child back on track so that they get enough rest to tackle school every day.

1.  Set a bedtime routine AND stick to it.

What time should your kiddos go to bed?  You might be surprised to hear between 7pm-8pm every night. 

More surprising, you should keep the bedtime there until your child is about 12!  And, there are two important reasons why:

A.  kids need at least 10 hours of sleep at night.  11-12 is EVEN better. If your child needs to be up by 7am so that they can get ready for school, they need to be asleep NO later than 9pm.  If you take into consideration the request for a glass of water or 1 more trip to the bathroom after they’re in bed, 8pm is pretty much the latest they can get into bed and STILL get enough rest.

B.  You, as a parent, and your partner if there’s one in the picture, need to exist child-free for a few hours a day.  Trust me, it’s good for you to recharge those parenting batteries. It’s so crucial to your relationship with your kids AND your partner.

We have the when, but now we need the how!

2.  Don’t leave it to the last minute

You’ve got a few weeks before school starts, and it’s easiest if you get them on track little by little.  If your kiddo has had a later than desirable bedtime, move it back 15 minutes every 3 days until they’re back to their normal time.

3.  Establish a bedtime routine

If your bedtime routine took a hiatus during the summer months, that’s fine, but now’s the time to bring it back.  The familiarity of the routine will help your kiddo into the new schedule with less resistance.

If this is your first crack at a bedtime routine, I can’t stress enough how much easier it will make your life with children to have a predictable bedtime routine.

Your child’s brain will associate bath, teeth brushing, story time, pjs, etc..All done in the same order with bedtime which signals melatonin production and makes sleep come MUCH easier – which is a win for everyone!

4.  Use a timer 

This is more important with little ones, especially toddlers.  Time in the tub and story time can go on and on, and bedtime keeps getting farther and farther away.  A timer helps you not have to play “sheriff”. When the timer goes off, it’s time to move on. Mom can waiver, the timer, not so much.  

5.  Turn of those screens 

Bedtimes aren’t the only things we slack on during the summer.  We tend to not be as strict with screen time as well. Especially around bedtime.

With no homework to be done, some extra screen time almost always happens.

Screens of any kind emit blue light, which our brains associate with sunlight and daytime.  Watching screens too close to bedtime can fire your kid’s system up when they should be powering down.

The recommendation is no screen time for 2 hours before bed.

Bonus tip:  This also goes for adults, so if you’re having trouble falling asleep, try reading a book instead of staring at a screen before bed.

6.  Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

Speaking of light!  We traveled north this summer, and it stays lighter WAAAAY later into the evening.  It was hard to believe it was still light at 10pm, and it was hard to fall asleep when it was still light out.

Blackout blinds are worth the investment.  Get as much light as possible out of your bedrooms, and it’ll make a world of difference for everyone in the family when they’re trying to sleep.  Our rooms should be like dark, cool caves – nope, not joking, they should! That’s how we sleep best.

Since there’s been some leniency around bedtime, your child may suddenly become an attorney that has arguments for why they should stay up later and not cooperate with the bedtime routine.

But, luckily for us, parenting is NOT a democracy.  It’s a dictatorship (LOL) where mom & dad get to make the rules 🙂 

Bedtimes should be non-negotiable, and the school year has more routine, and summer is a special circumstance. 

No matter what age they are, nothing will prepare them with a better attitude and outlook than getting enough rest.

With proper rest people are; happier, more socially outgoing, and retain information much better.

And, if this is the first time your child will be at school since you became a mom, be prepared for some heartbreak.  But, soon after, there are sweet days ahead!

Need some help getting your kiddo on a consistent schedule so that you know what to expect every day?

We should talk.  Book a complimentary 15-minute discovery call with me.

I look forward to hearing from you and helping, however, I can.

Here’s to a well-rested family,