Right now your children’s days are probably filled with sprinkler-running, popsicle-eating, and riding bikes until the stars come out. But soon it will be time to ditch the summer time bad habits and get back into a daily routine. One of the best ways to prepare your child for the upcoming school year is to get them into a healthy sleep cycle.
If your child isn’t ready for the jolt of early morning school start times, then they might not be getting enough sleep. Sleep deprivation in children can cause impulsiveness, mood swings, depression or problems paying attention, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
So, here are some ways to get your child back in the swing of things and back on track to a better night’s sleep.
1. Get your child on a sleep schedule
The National Sleep Foundation recommends beginning a school sleep schedule two weeks before the child returns to school. Each night have the child go to bed a little earlier and wake up a little earlier each morning. This will help the child gradually adjust to their new bedtime and wake up time.
2. Be consistent
Once you have established this new sleeping pattern, it’s important to keep the bedtime routine and bed time consistent. The National Sleep Foundation warns parents against letting children sleep in on weekends. They also recommend sticking with an early bedtime even on days off.
3. Institute a quiet time
Before you start a child’s bedtime routine, there should be a time of quiet and calmness to bring the child down from the excitement and stress of the day. This time should be free of TV, video games and other electronic devices.
If you’re looking for a quiet activity for your children, try making this calming lavender play dough.
4. Eat light
While spaghetti and meatballs might be a comfort food, heavy food right before bed isn’t always a great idea. Try making something light for dinner, like a pizza pasta salad, that will fill hungry bellies, but won’t hinder a good night’s sleep.
5. Ditch the caffeine
Children should avoid drinking caffeinated beverages like soda right before bed, so they are better able to unwind and settle down for the night. Try supplementing soda for water, milk or a batch of these “magic” smoothies that will also give your child a few servings of fruits and vegetables.
6. Make their room a peaceful place
Allow your child to choose comforting items to put in their room like night lights, special pillows, blankets and stuffed animals. Provide a dark comfortable space free of electronic devices and in a quiet area of your home.
If your child needs some extra help when it comes to calming down in their room, then try making one of these glitter-filled calm down bottles.
7. Set a good example
As hard as it is to admit sometimes, our children are watching and emulating us. So, if we are staying up late watching TV or playing with our latest electronic device, then that might be a habit they pick up. So, put down the tablet and your nightly cup of coffee and give your child a healthy habit to emulate.
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Jessa is the Editor-in-Chief of Hooray for Family and the mom of three energetic children. She has a BA in Mass Communication/Journalism from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, and is a long-time resident of Central Texas. When she isn't writing and editing, she enjoys playing board games with her kids, teaching Sunday school and channeling her creativity into craft projects.