The 2016-2017 school year starts next week for many counties in the Bay Area. The final week of summer is arguably the most stressful for parents who are running around with last minute errands, doctor’s appointments, school supply lists, and more. It’s also the most important week when it comes to getting your kids off a summer sleep schedule and back to bed at a decent hour.
“If they’re not well rested it’s going to affect them. They’re going to feel like a zombie at school and then it’s going to affect their concentration, their listening, their social skills. It’s just not a good way to start off the year,” says Ellie Hirsch, founder of MommyMasters.com
Ellie Hirsch is a mother of 3 and a successful mommy blogger in South Tampa. Her advice for getting kids back on a school sleep schedule is relatively simple: start early and stick to your rules.
“As a parent, know that it’s not going to be easy for this transition whether it’s sleeping or getting back into school. Because again, they’re used to running around going to camp … they’re not thinking about school. So again, explain to them that this is not a punishment. You’re not being mean. You’re just trying to make sure that they have the best possible day and they’re extremely well rested.”
The National Sleep Foundation recommends the following hours of sleep per night:
- Ages 4-12 months, 12-16 hours including naps
- Ages 1-2, 11-14 hours including naps
- Ages 3-5, 10 to 13 hours
- Ages 6-12, 9 to 12 hours
- Ages 13-18, 8 to 10 hours
Hirsch strongly suggests cutting out screen time before bed. That means putting away computes, tablets, TV’s and phones long before bedtime. Instead, use that time for books in a quiet, comfortable environment.
Until we get closer to the end of Daylight Saving Time, the sun will likely be out when most kids are going to bed. Hirsch says blackout curtains or even a sheet over the window can help make the environment more soothing for little ones. It also helps during the morning routine to have older ones make their lunches and pick out their clothes before bed. This gets them in the mindset of preparing for a new day.
Hirsch says getting children back onto a school-friendly sleep schedule is a gradual process and advises parents start the week before the first day of school.
“Depending on your child and everything it’s good to work in increments of amounts of time. So maybe 15 minutes every night you put them to bed earlier. So if they normally go to bed at 8 but the summer they’ve been going to bed at 10, try to get back to that 8 o’clock and that’s why you need a lot of time,” says Hirsch.
Know this though: It won’t happen overnight. Parents need to be patient and keep your word. If bedtime is at 8pm, then bedtime is at 8pm.