How to Transition to a School-Year Sleep Schedule

mother and daughter getting ready for bed

Summertime for kids often means less consistency and more playtime and activities, staying up later, and sleeping in. But with a new school year fast approaching, it’s important to get your kids back on track with a consistent sleep schedule. We’re here to help you and your kiddos have a smooth transition before their first day!

Get back into a routine

One of the best ways to get kids back on a regular sleep schedule is to re-introduce their bedtime routine. Talk with the family to get everyone on the same page about why it’s important to have a routine and what they can expect. Dressing in pajamas, brushing teeth, and reading a bedtime story can all be a part of a successful and soothing routine. To help ease them back into their regular sleep schedule, start their routine a little earlier each night until you reach the desired bedtime.

Cut back on distractions

With the rules a little more relaxed during the summer, some kids may be used to more screentime during the day and at night. As part of their bedtime routines, try to cut off screentime 30 minutes to an hour beforehand. You can even implement a ritual where everyone has to turn over their phones or tablets to a designated place in the house to keep it fair — and make sure their screens don’t go back on as soon as you close the door.

Stay consistent

It’s completely normal for kids to slip out of their regular routines during the summer. They may try to make their bedtime routine drag out or beg to stay up later. Stay firm and stay consistent in your set routine and the time it takes to complete it. Allowing your kids ‘just one more bedtime story’ tells them the rules are flexible, making it harder for them to stick to.

Create a routine

We are big fans of sleep routines, as they help signal to growing brains that it’s time to calm down, lay down, and go to sleep. You may want to start by turning off screens, ushering kids upstairs to take a bath, and generally getting more quiet. This is especially useful for kids of early elementary school age, as it helps their nervous system settle after a stimulating day.

From the warm bath, you can calmly start to dress for bed, read a favorite book, and tuck your kiddos in. A white noise machine can also help signal that it’s time for sleep, and prevent other noises in the house from affecting your kiddo’s ability to drift off.

Be patient

Too many changes at once can quickly overwhelm your kids. As you gradually re-introduce their bedtime routine, be patient as they try to adjust. It might be a little challenging for the entire family at first, but your kids will be well-rested and well-prepared for the school year.

If you need more guidance or advice, the sleep training team at Maternal Instincts can help you and your kids achieve a successful and consistent sleep schedule. We also offer nighttime support for families with newborns who want to make sure everyone in the house gets much-needed sleep.

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