On Friday at Play Shoppe, a mom who’s always very “on-top-of-things” shared she had begun adjusting her daughters’ bedtimes in preparation for school to begin. I was struck, wow, of course, good for her, at the same time I wondered, where did the summer go?
This is exactly the time to start reining in later bedtimes and casual, lazy wake-up times, eating breakfast whenever and only getting dressed after that. As low- key and inviting as that might sound, it doesn’t work well once school begins.
Experts say preschoolers need 11-13 hours of sleep to be well-rested for a busy day; elementary school children need 10-12 hours; pre-teens 9-11 hours and teens, 8 -9 hours a day.
I can hear some of you gasping already – really? Going by the hour some of our children need to be up and out of the house, bedtimes definitely also need to be pretty early.
So if you’ve had the pleasure of being more laid back this summer, now is the time to begin, as the mom I spoke with has, to adjust the times your child is going to bed and rising in the morning.
Just as I wrote that, I realized how much more pleasant it sounds to “rise” in the morning rather than just “get up” or even worse, “drag yourself out of bed”. No, our efforts here are definitely focused on rising, positively- ready to take on the day.
So how should we begin?
We can begin by moving bedtime ahead about 15-20 minutes every three to four days. Wake-up time in the morning should go directly to the very time your children need to rise for school. This will help tire them earlier in the evening as you are in the process of changing their schedule.
Closing the blinds or pulling curtains shut in your child’s room at night will help block the lingering light outside. Once your child is asleep, go in and open them up so the morning light will warmly greet your child.
Morning light is very significant in helping to reset our internal clocks, so spending time out-of-doors in the morning is key as we prepare for our new schedule.
Having ample amount of physical exercise and play is necessary in having a tired child in the evening. Swimming, fresh air, sunshine, climbing, digging, running and jumping all make children happy and tired.
All experts recommend limiting screen time, especially as bedtime draws near. Even though, as adults we may too often doze off in front of the screen, for children, it alerts their brains in a way that is not conducive to restful falling to sleep or staying asleep.
It’s helpful if TVs and computers and phones are not in use by anyone in the house at least until the children are asleep. Keeping the house quiet as if all is naturally settling down creates a mood of peace and coziness and speaks for itself. It’s time for bed.
I knew a mom who while her girls were in the tub, would dim all the lights and safely light some candles here and there in the house so when they appeared, dried off and in their pajamas, this warm, cozy, quiet ambiance greeted them and acknowledged it was indeed time for rest.
It is so wise if we can allow our natural routines to lead the way for our children’s day versus our own constant direction and nagging.
Of course, children will definitely be more tired during these days and probably display more crankiness and changes in behavior as well. This is the time to give them some slack. Don’t demand new expectations of them.
Let’s focus on rested children and celebrate that.
If you are struggling with tired children or concerned about preparing your child for school, feel free to give me a call at The Parenting Place, 784-8125.