Back to the Old Routine

Back To School (1)

It’s hard to imagine that summer vacation is just about over with considering it feels like the year just started. Before you know it, it will be December and we will be celebrating Christmas, and then soon after ringing in the New Year. Before we get to all of that, though, we have to send our little munchkins off to school to start another school year. My fairy goddaughter (yes, you read that correctly, my FAIRY goddaughter) will be starting 4th grade in less than a month, and I am not ready for it. I can hardly believe that she’s already nine, and just about done with grade school. Where in the heck did all that time go?? With school just around the corner, it’s about time to get the kiddos (and yourself!) on a regular sleep routine so they are ready for their first day back.

The first and most important thing to do is to create a sleep schedule for your child. Of course, we want our kids to be well rested and ready for the school day ahead. Well, the key to do is to making them go to bed a reasonable time starting now – that way they have time to get use to and adjust to going to bed early. Along with sending them to bed early, it is important to wake them up early as well. Do not let them sleep away the days like they have been doing all summer, it will be a pain in the butt for you trying to get them up and out of bed come the first day of school. When you are first starting off, set a bedtime 15 minutes earlier than what has become their normal bed time. In the morning, wake them 15 minutes earlier than their normal wake time. Each night, increase their bed time and wake time by 15 minutes so that they become use to going to bed early and waking up early. This process is easier as it allows your child to become accustomed to getting to bed at a reasonable time since class is almost in session. Once you have established a bed time and a wake time, be sure to maintain the sleep schedule! Even on the weekends. The whole point of this is to prepare our kids for this new schedule, so it is important that they stick to this routine as closely as possible.

sleep1.pngIs might also be a good idea to establish a relaxing bedtime routine. When I get home after work, the first thing I do is help my mom or sister finish up dinner. By that time my dad gets home from work, and then we all sit down and have dinner together. Throughout dinner, we talk about out day and spend quality time together. Afterwards, I clean up the kitchen, take a shower, and then get ready for bed. I might watch TV for about an hour before grabbing a book to read. An actual book, not a book on my phone or iPad. Sure, that is more convenient, but I do enjoy the feeling of an actual book in my hand. Not only that, but exposure to the blue light emitted from your phone/tablet will more than likely hinder your ability to fall asleep. If I am not in the mood to get through a few chapters, I tend to unwind with some simple yoga stretches and breathing techniques. It is relaxing for both my body and my brain, which in turn will allow for me to fall asleep much quicker than I would if I were watching TV or scrolling though Facebook on my phone… Again, once you establish your relaxing routine, stick with it. This helps your body identify that you’re trying to wind down and get ready for bed. Please also bear in mind that your bedroom is place to sleep – not watch TV, not answer work email’s, and not to take phone calls. You want to keep your room cool and dark – ideal for sleeping. This will enhance a peaceful bedroom environment which is what we want for our children – no distractions, just somewhere they can lay their head and rest.

Before starting your bedtime routine, I should emphasize the importance of not overeating at dinner time. Of course, you should eat enough to be full, but don’t over do it. It will cause more trouble than its worth come time for bed. An overly full tummy will make you and your child uncomfortable, and thus prevent you from falling asleep. Be sure to avoid stimulants such as coffee, energy drinks, or caffeinated beverages as well. I don’t think I have to go into why coffee, soda, or anything caffeinated right before bed is definitely not a good idea. Stick with water, ONE glass of wine (you not your kiddo!), or juice depending on what you are eating. If you must consume something warm before, I recommend a cup of decaffeinated OR herbal tea, such as chamomile or lavender. This is good ‘training’ for your kids, once they are older they’re already used to drinking something warm and that will help that sleep.

For the younger children who like to rebel against school and getting ready for school, I recommend a reward system. If they stick to their routine –day and night – without any complaints then they get a gold star. At the end of the week, if they have a star for everyday, maybe take them out for ice cream? Or take them to the 99 cents store and let them spend ten bucks? They are more than likely willing to comply and work with you rather than against you when there is a reward system in place.

sleep 3.jpgA great way to determine when your child should be getting to bed is by using a back to school calculator (which you can find online for free!). You just pop in how old your child is, and what time they need to wake up and, boom, done! From that point on, adjust your child’s bedtime accordingly so that they are ready for the first day of school.

It’s hard to wrap my head around that we are already halfway through the year. It’s back to school season, and before you know it we will be celebrating a new year, and then the munchkins will be out of school and on summer holidays once again. While there is still plenty of time to worry about it (or at least it feels that way), we should worry about getting them back to school next month and then take it from there.

You can find the sleep calculator here:

For more information on what we discussed:

For more information on sleep apnea:

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