Most parenting experts will tell you that you should keep your child’s summertime routines similar to school year routines. This includes bedtime routines. However, as parents, we all know that just doesn’t always happen in the summer. There are fun evening activities and we don’t want our kids to miss all the fun.
Personally, the thing I am the most strict about in my home is my daughter’s sleep habits. Sleep habits are formed as children, and studies show that loss of sleep can affect physical health, mental health and even IQ points!
However, there are going to be times when you allow your kids to stay up late. So, what’s the best way to ensure that your summer activities don’t have a long-term negative impact on your kids’ sleep habits?
You can’t really make up for loss of sleep. However, I’ve found a few tips and tricks to game the system so that I keep my daughter operating at top capacity for when we do stay up late.
Plan bedtime around your evening activity. Whenever we are planning to be out past bedtime, I still plan for the earliest bedtime possible by bringing jammies and toothbrush in bag and having her prep for bed before the drive home. I know lots of people who did this for their toddlers, but stopped doing it once their kids got a little older. But I still do it. My daughter will often fall asleep in the car if we are out late and even if she doesn’t, it makes bedtime much faster once we get home. As soon as we walk in the door, it’s lights out!
Take naps. Yep, my daughter hasn’t napped since she was 2 1/2, but now at 6, if we are planning to be out more than an hour past bedtime, I try to get her to take a nap. We are rarely successful at getting her to sleep in her bed for a proper nap, but sometimes a late afternoon drive before the activity will get some much needed shut-eye before we get going for the evening. A 30 minute car nap will keep her going for much longer in the evening and I feel better knowing that she got some rest.
Put them to bed earlier the next night. Whenever we are up late, rather than trying to make her sleep late (as if I could anyway!), I put my daughter to bed at least an hour earlier the next evening. I know that you can’t truly make up for sleep loss, but if it’s within the same 24 hours, it stands to reason that an hour more the next evening could help balance out the lost sleep.
Stick to your regular bedtime and wake up times as closely as possible. On nights when you are home, try to get them to bed within an hour of their regular routine.
Getting Kids Back on Track After Summer Routines
Only the strictest of parents stick to a school year schedule in the summer. The average parent usually needs to get their kids back on track for the school year. It’s still a little early, but summer flies by, so keep this list handy, because in a few weeks you’ll need it.
Start a week ahead of time. Get your school schedule started a week before school starts. This gives all of you time to prep yourselves for the early mornings and early bedtimes.
Get back to your dining routines. Start eating lunch and dinner at the same times you will once school starts. This will keep your kids from having low blood sugar and crashing hard after school is over for that first week.
Keep afternoon activities low-key. Once you are working your way back to school year routines, you’ll want to have relaxing afternoon activities so your kids can unwind quickly when it’s time for bed.
Routines Can Be Re-established
It’s easy to move from school year routine to summer routines. So, remember, it can be easy to re-establish school year routines. Once summer is close to an end, school year routines can be easily re-established with just a little effort. Yeah, I know that it’s hard to get up at 6 a.m. when it’s still August, but you’ll be thanking me once you’re a month into the school year and you’re the only who’s not yawning at the end of the school day.