5 Steps for Back to School Sleep Success

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As I write this I can hardly believe it actually IS back to school already. It feels as if summer has lasted forever and yet suddenly it’s all but over…and already IS over in some parts of the world.

Starting a new school year can bring with it a whole heap of stresses for both us parents (and teachers!) and our little ones, and not least of them…sleep.

For those returning to school no doubt sleep habits, timings, hygiene and routines have slipped over the long, lazy holidays.

For those about to start school for the first time, or start a new school, or new class, there may be a whole host of emotions swirling, from anxiety to excitement, taking their toll on sleep.

Whatever your situation, here are some tips to help:

1. Start the day right…or more accurately, at the right time!

Chances are you’ve all been enjoying a bit of a lie in over the holidays (unless you have younger babies and early risers in which case what’s a lie in!?) but soon enough the alarm clocks are going to be ringing out across the land turfing school age children out of their beds and into their classrooms.

The best way to get ready for this earlier start…is to start earlier.

All sleep benefits from rising at the same time every day so start the habit now and start getting everybody up now at the time you’ll need to be up for school.

2. Bring bedtime back to where it ‘should’ be.

I’m guessing that, even despite best intentions, bedtimes have slipped later than usual over the hols…too much fun to cram into those longer days to worry about going to sleep. But with school fast approaching putting more mental load on our littles and with that earlier start we’re introducing now, getting bedtime back on time is key. Do this step the same day you start waking them up earlier so at least they’re more likely to be tired enough even if they’re not too impressed with the idea. Feel free to do this as a straight change or to adjust bedtime gradually in increments.

3. Bring back your consistent bedtime routine.

As well as the timing of bedtime, routines seem to go a bit out of the window during the holidays as well. Routine breeds routine so once we’re all out of the daily schedule and routine that going to school every day brings, everything else seems to slide a little too, especially where there’s travel and whatnot involved.

BUT, as everything shifts again back to another school year, having the familiarity of a good, consistent bedtime routine is absolutely crucial in helping our little ones get back into good sleep habits and to settle down for bed again. If you need help getting into a good bedtime routine, just let me know!

4. Re-build any of the pillars of Healthy, Happy SLEEP that have slipped over the hols.

More ice creams? Treats? Lazy TV days? iPads to keep them busy? Most of us start off with great intentions to maintain all our usual school time ‘rules’ during the summer but 6 weeks is a long time and, well, life happens.

Which is fine. But now sleep needs to happen and we all need to feel as rested and healthy as we can as we enter a new school year.

So, back up the agenda goes good, nutrition with plenty of varied, whole foods and limited empty sugars and ‘fake’ foods…to help sleep and stave off those back to school germs. And if getting your little to eat plenty of wholesome fruit & veg is just a struggle too far at this point, I swear by these.

Down comes the screen usage…at least for a few hours before bed, anyway.

Make sure your littles are getting out into natural daylight nice and early and having plenty of opportunity to run around and burn off energy…go on, one last push before September’s here!

And talk. Talk about feelings about school starting, help with any difficult emotions or worries, join in with any excitement.

Which brings me to my last point…

5. Snuggle, love, connect & re-connect.

No matter how anyone feels about going back to school, having spent all summer together, you’re about to face a period of more separation. And despite any protestations to the contrary from bigger littles, they still need you. So take time to really connect now while you can. And no matter how hectic and ridiculous life gets once school starts, no matter how rushed and full the day already seems, just find a few minutes to reconnect with each of your little people after school every. single. day. Put the phone down, leave work at work, forget about everything else and just focus on them…for ideas on how, read this. It’ll seriously save you time at bedtime I promise.

And good luck out there mamas!

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