September is synonymous with the change of seasons and back to school. Whether your family has been back in the school routine for a couple of days or a couple of weeks, it can be a slow adjustment, especially if you have really little ones who are in school for the first time. Suddenly that extra hour of sleeping in, those late nights, and the summer-time naps are no more! Sleep is a critical aspect of development, since that is when our children do most of their growing. It gets their little bodies ready for the next day and for the future! Making sure they get the proper amount of rest is key for a healthy day. Developing good habits by building a routine can facilitate sleep by sending signals to the brain that it is time to shut down. Here are some foundations for building a great sleep schedule.
- Turn off the devices an hour before bed. Isn’t this a habit we could all start? It is so tempting to watch just one more video or play one more game. However, our kids need time to disconnect, and let their brains begin to relax and prepare for sleep. Electronics keep us awake and stimulated, and it is easier to help the body prepare for sleep by disconnecting. Reading books with your children, or letting them read to you if they can, is a good alternative activity for that last part of the night before bed.
- Give your child some say in their routine. Whether it is picking out their own pajamas for the night, what the bedtime story is, or the color of the night light (seriously there are some cool night lights out there now), letting your children have a sense of choice can get them on board with the routine. Rather than feeling like they need to push back on what time they need to get in the bed, they have choices, and feel like they have a say, but the adults get final say on what really matters…when the lights go out!
- Do some relaxing stretches. Slow moving poses that they hold for a minute can relax your children, and get their bodies in a state that is ready to sleep. Whether it is hugging their knees to their chest on their back and rocking back and forth, or stretching their neck from side to side, relaxing the muscles will prepare them for relaxation, which helps with sleep.
From here, customize based on your child’s preferences and needs. Maybe a family puzzle would be better for your child than reading. Sometimes a young person prefers to wind down with some calming music. Whatever works for your family can be integrated into a workable bedtime routine that can help your child adjust to their new schedule. As they grow, then bedtime can grow with them.
Catch some winks and be prepared for tomorrow’s adventure, and all the fun that awaits!