The long summer days are coming to an end soon, with kids of all ages getting ready to go back to school for another year. With that brings change; new teachers, possibly a new school, possibly the first time back in a classroom in a long time, new activities, and new mental developments. It also brings along bedtime battles for all ages from toddler to teen. Sleep is so important for all ages. So often, we forget that, or bedtime battles get in the way! Fighting you at bedtime is common for kids of all ages and it is exhausting. I hear you! So, what are the ways in which we, as parents, can help our kids through these upcoming changes and keep things running smoothly, especially at bedtime?
Remember you are the boss. Not your toddler and not your teen. You are. Kids are natural boundary pushers. It is up to you as the parent to remain steadfast and strong. Set the morning wake-up time and make it clear to your child what you expect of them in the morning before it is time for school. Make them a chart to help them clearly see what they need to do each morning to get ready for school and to get into the car or onto the bus in time. Next, set the boundaries for after school. Let them know what is expected from them. Chores, homework, outside time, helping with dinner and the dishes. Giving them a clear-cut routine and expectation will not only help you, but it will help them feel at ease. Again, making a chart can really help some children to visualize what they need to do next. If you don’t have time to make the chart yourself Easy Daysies has some great magnet options to get kids involved with visual queues and help them manage their own routine.
If you are really struggling to get them on track, a timer can always come in handy to get them moving a little quicker. And, amongst all the hustle and bustle, make sure that your child has some important “downtime”. Overscheduling of activities can have an impact on schoolwork and sleep.
Ensure they get adequate sleep
The first thing to implement is a bedtime routine, especially with our younger kids and toddlers. Keep those bedtime battles at bay with a consistent routine that everyone can easily follow. Here is a great example of a bedtime routine:
- Brush Teeth
Again, kids thrive on routine and predictability. Make it fun and get them involved. Make a bedtime routine chart and even a rewards chart if this is something new to them. If bedtime really went astray this summer, then ease them into their new bedtime and routine sooner rather than later. Try not to wait until the night before the first day of school to get started.
Create a calm environment
For older children, make sure that their bedroom is a calm environment. Finding a way to separate homework/social/sleep can go a long way in helping older children wind down at the end of a busy day. Allowing older children to design their bedtime routine and complete their own sleep diary can be great ways to get them involved in steps towards healthy sleep. A good night’s sleep can dramatically help with academic performance among other things, so make sure that boundaries are set. It’s very common to find many teens sleeping with their phones under their pillows so that they can use them for Snapchat or Tik Tok at 1 am.
Move bedtime earlier
Summer is always a great excuse to let the kids stay up late, but now it is time to set the bedtime for an appropriate hour. So, what is an appropriate bedtime? Our youngest children need between 10-12 hours of sleep per night and our older children (age 7 and up) need between 9-10 hours of sleep per night. Of course, after-school activities can get in the way of an early bedtime, as well as having homework to do after those activities, but just be sure that you are not overscheduling your children. Most of the time they are getting to bed at a decent hour and getting the adequate amount of sleep that they need.
If your child really struggles to sleep or to get used to the bedtime routine, sit down with them and explain to them why healthy sleep is so important to their well-being. Lead by example as well, get a good night’s sleep yourself. Remind older children to stay off their devices before bedtime, as that can have a negative effect on their sleep as well. Remember that sleep affects everything – Mood, Development, Behavior Issues, and so much more. We all need sleep, and kids especially need it as they enter such a busy and important time of the year.
Missy Morrison Charko is a Certified Sleep Sense Consultant and Founder of Say Yes to the Rest Pediatric Sleep Consulting. She resides in the Blind Bay, BC area with her husband and two young children. She provides Private Sleep Consultations within the Thompson-Okanagan Region and remotely across Canada and the USA.