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Back-to-School Bedtime Blues

Posted by Jen on August 26, 2009 at 7:00 AM in Jenbedtime
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carter on the couch

If you are like me, you're looking at the calendar and thinking Oh dear Lord, how will I ever get these children back to a normal bedtime before they start school on Monday? The answer is: You won't. But. You can get headed in the right direction which is what we're doing right now.

Here's where you can start:

Wake everyone up bright and early. It doesn't matter if they get dressed, speak to you or are coherent in anyway. The point is that they wake up and get moving. By the time bedtime rolls around, they'll at least be a little bit more tired (and ready to sleep) then usual.

Cut way back on screen time, especially in the evening.
No more watching a movie together before you go to bed. The part of the brain that needs to wind down, winds up in the presence of visual media, so cutting that out of your child's evening diet will definitely help move things along in the nighttime hours.

Do some family research online about how much sleep is required. If you have a blossoming logician at your house (like we do) this kind of fact checking makes a strong argument for a reasonable bedtime. This also cuts down on sibling issues because the research shows which ages need the most sleep--ironically, that number goes up and down depending on where your child is in development.

Get those rooms in order. Now is the time to break out the comfy sheets, buy a new pillow and make that room a crib any child TV star would be proud of. In the same way your kids needed convincing sleep space when they were babies, they need a good place to snooze now. Reinforce as many positive associations with their sleep space as possible.

Nudge bedtime a little earlier each night. Ideally, you would have started this two weeks ago (where did the time go?) but it's never too late to start. By gently moving your kids to an earlier sleep time, you'll be giving them the support they need to wake up naturally on their own come a school day morning. I know I've succeeded when no one needs a morning call to wake up and everyone comes down on their own accord--yes, it can happen!

What's your best tip for getting kids back on schedule? Do you ease them in gradually or go cold turkey on a school schedule bedtime? Or (perish the thought) do you actually put them to bed on time all summer long?? Tell the truth in the comments below.


Laura writes...

this summer i was the most relaxed with bedtime. but it was always lights out by 11pm. and they were sleeping in until after 8am. now i'm trying to do what you suggested above, but not very successfully. i told him that getting up at 7am is really going to stink if you don't start trying to fall asleep now w/o the tv and staying up so late. i have until sept 7 to work my mommy magic. wish me luck.

Jess writes...

We're doing just fine with the kids - they're still so little that they *need* to go to bed at their normal time and so we're still right on schedule - but I need to follow your tips for ME!!! I've been getting lazier and lazier about getting up and ready and out each morning, so being ready for the bus by 8:30am in a couple of weeks is going to be a challenge. Time to nudge *my* bedtime back!

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