All the school uniforms, backpacks and lunch boxes have been purchased. You’ve embarked on serious summer fun and along with some amazing memories with your kids, now comes the time to start establishing your routine with back to school days.
As the last weeks of summer wind down, parents and even our kids, are eagerly ready to get back to a school routine. One of the things that tends to shift over summer is bedtime and even nap times start to get shorter and shorter. Bedtimes tend to get later and later due to summer activities and family vacations, or we all just simply want to be out and about enjoying those breezy summer nights. Nap times usually happen on the go, or perhaps even not at all.
A major thing as parents that we don’t always think about around this time of year…it’s not just big kids who are going to have to adapt to back-to-school schedules. Babies and toddlers will also be affected by school drop-off and pick-up times, and of course all the after-school activities. Babies and toddlers need some back to school schedule adjusting, too.
Whether you’ve got a brand new baby sibling or first time kindergartner, we’ve compiled our top tips and tools to help gently get you and your child’s sleep back on track and ready for school.
Here are a few tips for implementing a back-to-school schedule:
Start shifting bedtime: We all had plenty of fun in the sun to occupy your summer. But, your summer fun also meant that bedtimes around your house were late, and that your kids had a chance to sleep in more often. This kind of schedule is great for summer, but it doesn’t work so well when school starts. You won’t want to wait until the first day of class to start waking up your child to get to school on time. Even if you started 2-3 days before school, you’d likely have a cranky child by the first day of school. Instead, begin implementing am earlier bedtimes and wake-up times about 1-2 weeks prior to school starting. Start by waking your child up earlier each morning (by 15-20 minutes or so) until they are waking at the time needed for school to begin. At the same time, make bedtime earlier each day as school approaches (15-20 min earlier each day). By the time school starts, you will have a much happier child that’s ready for school to kick off! (Now as far as the cereal struggle, welp, you’re on your own with that one…) ?
Structured daytime routines: It’s no surprise that children thrive on routine. Having a structured routine layered into your days will help your child know what to expect,. During the summer months, however, you may have gotten out of your norm as far as the day to day structure. The summer luxury is nice, but when outside the usual daytime routines it can make it extra hard to get back into the swing of things when school approaches. A week or so before school starts, begin shifting back to your day to day school routines. If you usually do homework right after school, start some reading or a coloring activity. The key is to keep it structured at what would be your normal homework time. Once school starts, it will feel routine to your child to sit down at that time of day to do “homework.” Has your child been napping during the summer, but won’t be able to once school starts? Start skipping the nap every other day two weeks prior to school starting. Keep in mind that missing naps might make your child cranky. To ensure that your child isn’t struggling too much with this shift in sleep, make sure they are going to bed at a much earlier time on the no nap days.
When it comes to the baby and back to school routines keeping their sleep schedules in tact is very important, but we also understand and realize that life happens in between and sometimes we have no control of the circumstances when school schedules are setting in. It helps if babies (especially young babies) are lulled by movement such as the car.
Don’t be afraid to have your baby fall asleep during drop off and pick up (never leave a sleeping baby in a car unattended). You may need to just go with the flow and when your baby wakes up, (when you get back home or arrive at school) just monitor her awake time to determine what time the next nap should be. Fitting in a good solid nap before pick up is always a good idea to ensure pick up time goes smooth. It’s important not to try and keep your baby awake while you’re out and about and or dropping older siblings off at school or after school activities. An overtired baby is never a good idea as it can be harder to get him/her to fall asleep and stay asleep for the next nap.
We wish you nothing but a happy sleep & a new school year!