Back To School Tips

Alright, let me start off by saying that this blog post is NOT about sending judgment about what has been going on in your household at night in the past few months. Y’all we have been through the wringer with everything that has been going on, so letting those sleep rules slip is completely understandable. Plus, we only get 18 short summers with our child(ren), so enjoy them!

The mission now is to get your child back on track, so they are well-rested and ready for learning. I promise nothing will help them go into the new school year with a better attitude and positive outlook than getting plenty of sleep. They’ll be happier,1 more socially outgoing,2 and ready to learn.3

Set A Bedtime And Stick To It

Easy enough right? Well, making sure you pick an appropriate bedtime is key. I recommend children under 12 years old should have a bedtime between 7:00-8:00 pm. I know that may seem early, but here is my reasoning behind it. First, kids need at least 10 hours of sleep a night and an extra hour or two on top of that is never a bad thing. Of course, however, you can make adjustments based on your own observations.

With some families doing remote learning or homeschooling, your wake up times may look a little different, but even if they do not need to be up by 7:00 am, you still want your child in bed and ASLEEP at 9:00 PM at the latest! Factor in the time it takes for them to actually fall asleep, and the inevitable request for another bathroom break or glass of water, 8:00 PM is pretty much the latest you want to put them in their bed to ensure enough sleep.

Second, you, as a parent, deserve some child-free time. Those few hours each night that you can get back with your partner, or time to eat wherever you want without having to share, or being able to watch a movie with adult language is important as an adult to recharge your batteries.

Don’t Leave It To The Last Minute

The best way to get back on track is little by little. Try moving their bedtime up by 15 minutes every 4 days until you are at the desired bedtime. Don’t be afraid to adjust clocks in their rooms so they don’t notice their bedtime moving up earlier. What they don’t know won’t hurt them. 😉

Use A Timer

Kids seem to love things like bath time and reading, and HATE when it is over. Statements like “Please just five more minutes in the tub” or “please, mom, just ONE more book!” seem to put you in the defense and have to become the sheriff. Parents can be reasoned with, but the timer, ah, timers cannot. It also takes the blame off of you and puts it on the timer.

Turn Off Those Screens

I understand if you have let the rules of screentime at home go. They were home more and no homework. I get it. Screentime is fine throughout the day when it comes to sleep, however two hours before bed it should be turned off. I am talking about phones, TVs, computers, and tablets. They put off a massive amount of blue light, which is something out brains associate with sunshine and daylight. So when you think the activity of relaxing while watching tv may help with sleep, the blue light actually fires the body back up. This also applies to adults! So if you are having a hard time sleeping, try reading instead of settling with TV or your phone.

Darken Rooms

You may have noticed that it is not dark outside when you are putting your child(ren) to sleep by 8PM. Depending on where you are in this world, it may still be light outside. I suggest investing in blackout blinds. They also have something called non-adhesive window film you can get in addition to, or instead of blackout blinds. Just like the blue light mentioned above, the light coming into the room can trigger booting up their systems again.

Stick To Your Guns

Lastly, as we try to make adjustments to the nighttime routine, you may notice your skills as a lawyer being tested. Pushing bed times, pushing the use of screens, trying to stretch out the routine to make it later. You may see it all. Just stick to your guns and remind yourself this is for everyone’s good that they stay to the routine. After all, you are in charge!

1) “Manipulating Sleep Duration Alters Emotional Functioning and Cognitive Performance in Children” / Journal of Pediatric Psychology, Volume 38, Issue 10, Pages 1058–1069, November-December 2013  / Jennifer L. Vriend, PhD / Fiona D. Davidson, MA / Penny V. Corkum, PhD / Benjamin Rusak, PhD, FRSC / Christine T. Chambers, PhD / Elizabeth N. McLaughlin, PhD.

2) “Sleep and Social-Emotional Development in Infants and Toddlers” / Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, Issue 46:2, Pages 236-246, DOI: 10.1080-15374416.2016.1188701, 2017 / Mindell J / Lee C / Goh D / Leichman E / Rotella K.

3) “Sleep efficiency (but not sleep duration) of healthy school-age children is associated with grades in math and languages” / Sleep Medicine, Volume 15, Issue 12 / Gruber, Reut, et al.

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