Back to School Sleep Tip

Back to School Sleep Tip

It is that time of the year where our little ones are preparing to go to school or go back to school. The first thing I get a number of questions about is how to get your child prepared to get the amount of sleep he needs each night.

When summer hits we often fall off our routines. This is pretty common and honestly, it is to be expected. If you child is going to bed later and waking up later than he needs for school you can help him get back on track.

Where do you start?

The first thing that I recommend that you do is to figure out what time your child needs to be going to bed to get the recommended amount of sleep that he needs.

Here is a link that can help you figure out how much sleep your child needs Recommended Hours of Sleep. Keep in mind your child may need more or less sleep than a child that is the same age as your child. So trust your gut instincts on the exact amount of sleep that is best for your child.

Keep in mind your child may need more or less sleep than a child that is the same age as your child. So trust your gut instincts on the exact amount of sleep that is best for your child.

Now What?

Now you know how much time your child should be sleeping so the next thing to look at is what time does your child have to be awake to get where they need to be in a timely fashion without you having to rush them out the door (stay tuned for a post about how to get them out the door with your patience and hair intact).

Let us say for example you need to be out the door by 8:00 am so you decide that 7:00 am is a good time for your child to get up.

Currently, your child is getting up around 9:00 am. There are 2 ways you can approach this change:

Cold Turkey:

The weekend before school you can just cold turkey wake your child up at 7:00 am and start your day. I do recommend giving him a few days to adjust before going to school which is why I recommend starting on the weekend. Then have bedtime at the time you figure he needs to be able to get proper rest.

Gradually:

Right about now you can start waking your child up 15 minutes before he usually wakes up. Bedtime will be 15 minutes before he usually goes to sleep. Then every 3 to 4 days, change wake-up and bedtime by 15 minutes. Continue this approach until you reach the desired times.

Be prepared for some protest from your child. Reminding your child that you are doing this to help him get ready for school can have a positive effect on the push back you may receive.

Have fun preparing for back to school!

If you have additional questions feel free to ask me all the questions that you have in the Preschool/School Aged Group or Forum Area for members. Not a member become a member today!

 

 

 

Bedtime, It is a Marathon not a race!

Bedtime, It is a Marathon not a race!

Bedtime can be a long drawn out process for older children. In my opinion, there is no harm in having a longer bedtime routine as long as the end result is that your child is tucked into bed happy and drifting off to sleep. This is why I often call bedtime “a marathon and not a race”. When you are rushing your children up the stairs to get a bath, brush their teeth and put on pajamas it can be stressful. Stressed out children or parents are reactive and noncompliant. This results in upset people when it should be a relaxing fun time. Children will be able to rest a bit easier when they have had some fun and were able to have some good connection time with an adult prior to going to sleep.

You may be asking…

“How do you reduce the stress at bedtime?” 

The following are some tips that may help:

  1. Take it one step at a time.
  2. Allow enough time to get all the steps done.
  3. Account for time for your child to complete tasks. As adults, this can sometimes be painful for us as we just want to get it done.
  4. Offer choices when possible. Examples: “Do you want to brush your teeth or do you want my help?”; “Which toothpaste do you want? Pink or blue?”
  5. Play and laugh as much as you can. 
  6. Remember going late to bed by 5 to 10 minutes is not the end of the world.

We live this marathon every night. Our 5 (almost 6)-year-old is my real life example that this can work. Previously, I wrote a blog post about Bringing the Fun Back to Bedtime. I wrote this blog post shortly after I recovered from the lovely transition from crib to big boy bed. I really struggled with trying to keep the bedtime under the recommended 30 to 45 minutes. This all changed when I realized that it was all about the journey to sleep. If we got there stressed and frustrated, sleep took forever! When we got there over time and while having fun, sleep happened quickly for our son.

Here is a quick rundown of our evening routine:
  1. We head upstairs around 6:30 to 6:45 pm. He plays while the bath is filling up. He usually likes to play with one parent. This can be an interactive play (he likes to pretend that he is a Pokemon character and one parent is the Pokemon Master), a game (he likes to play fish or Tic Tac Toe) or independent play where his imagination goes wild.
  2. He uses the bathroom.
  3. He gets a bath and plays in the water for 15 to 20 minutes (sometimes less depending on the shape his skin is in).
  4. He gets dressed.
  5. He gets a snack picnic style on the floor in the master bedroom.
  6. He flosses and brushes his teeth with help from an adult.
  7. He then goes to his room and picks out 2 stories to read. He reads 3 books altogether (Home reading book from school and 2 more).
  8. While reading stories the other parent applies 2 washable tattoos on his feet or legs (Yes you are reading this correctly!)
  9. After stories, he snuggles with one adult (usually Daddy) for 3 minutes.
  10. When the timer goes off the adult leaves the room and he “reads” quietly in his bed.
  11. After 10 to 15 minutes (sometimes sooner) he will call out and ask that he gets his light turned off. He could do it himself but it is our last chance to tuck him in and give him a final piece of connection before he goes to sleep. He is asleep between 8 to 8:15 pm.

 

Keep in mind our routine may be a bit long for you or your family. As with all things parenting, do what works for you and your child!! Enjoy your child as much as possible!

If you have additional questions about your child’s bedtime routine or behavior become a Parenting Foundations Member by clicking on this link.

Stop, Drop and Connect

Stop, Drop and Connect

There are many times as a parent that we see our children falling apart. Tantrums are occurring left, right and center; tears for unknown reasons, and non-compliance for no known reason. Your typically calm and quite child is losing it, your usually strongly independent child is clingy onto you, or your child that is full of energy is a mess on the floor. This is when you Stop, Drop and Connect.

Connect??

This is when you stop what you are doing for a couple of minutes and pay attention to your child. Put the phone or other electrical devices away and spend a few minutes at your child’s level. Either get down to his level or bring him to your level. Try to include him in your activity or spend time doing another activity together.

Often times tantrums or major upsets can occur in a more intense manner when a child is not feeling connected to his parent. Now one of the biggest concerns I hear when I suggest that people try to pay attention in this manner is “am I not spoiling my child by doing this”. The answer is no. The key is learning the signs that your child needs a bit of attention before the poop hits the fan. These few short minutes can derail a tantrum before it begins.

Now if your child is in a full blown tantrum I would remain calm and remind him you are here for him but give him the space to release the emotion all while holding firm to your expectations. If your child is feeling connected the tantrum will be short lived. If your child is not feeling connected it can take a little longer but be patient and when the tantrum is done you can reconnect. When this happens here with our 5.5-year-old, I offer a hug or he asks for one and then we move on with our day. I then invite him into my activity. For us, the tantrums occur after school while I am trying to get supper. When I can tell he is drained I invite him to help me in the kitchen. Some days he does and other days he will play alongside me.

I understand that this sounds so simple that it can’t be true. I challenge you to try connecting with your child when you can see that he is about to explode.

Another way to connect with your child is to engage in 10 to 15 minutes of child-directed play every day.

Child-Directed Play

What is this? This is when you spend 10 to 15 minutes playing with your child. This is when I hear, “I do that every day”. Here is where it gets a bit different. This 10 to 15 minutes is when you let your child take the lead. Your phone is off and you are focused on the play. The only time you intervene is if there is a safety issue. I have had to run around the house like I was on a spaceship, pretend I am a variety of different Pokemon characters and the list goes on. I can honestly say on the days I have not done this my child is a bit more clingy and not the most compliant.

This can be a great add-on to a bedtime routine. I usually recommend that the routine starts with the child-directed play. Then after the play is complete you will have more fun with the bedtime routine as your child will be more willing to follow the routine as he is feeling connected.

 

I look forward to chatting with you further about this in the Parenting Foundations Membership forums or by commenting below.

Stop, Drop and Connect ToddlersStop, Drop and Connect Preschool and School Aged

Skip to toolbar