As far as I’m concerned, the best part about summer break is not having to set the alarm clock each night. I hate to get up early and my kid feels the same way. In fact, no matter what time she goes to bed, she will stay there until I drag her out. During the summer months, this usually happens around 10 or 11 am. But while her love of sleeping is certainly a blessing during the lazy days of July and August, it’s a problem once September rolls around.
She starts fourth grade in a few weeks and I am already dreading the change in schedule. Not just hers, but mine too. Because while she’s been sleeping in for the past few months, so have I. So as we gear up for another year of school, it’s time to start thinking about how to get us both back on track. Here are some tips from Jill Spivack, LCSW, a contributor at MomLogic.
You can’t wait until the night before the first day of school to start transitioning to an earlier wake up time. According to Spivack, preschoolers need 11 hours of sleep each night and about a week to transition to a school schedule. Elementary school kids need about 10 hours of sleep and four days of transition time. Teens and tweens need 9 to 10 hours of sleep but generally get back on track in just a few days.
Spivak doesn’t mention how much sleep adults need and how long it takes them to transition, but I suspect it will take me more than a few days to get with the program. I am going to give myself a week.
Of course, you can’t go to sleep if you just aren’t tired, so that first day of transitioning is going to be tough one. You will have to set the alarm and get up early even though you have nowhere to go and you probably stayed up late the night before. But the first step is always the hardest and it should get easier after this.
Once you’ve gotten up early enough to be tired at a decent hour, you will still need to allow some time to wind down at night. Spivak suggests establishing a bedtime routine in which the television, computer and CD player are all switched off at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Use that last half hour to bathe and brush teeth. For adults, I find a large glass of wine and a boring book does the trick nicely.
While most of Spivak’s advice is common sense, she does mention a trick I hadn’t considered. She suggests lowering the blinds or closing the curtains in your child’s room at bedtime. But once they are fast asleep, creep back in and open them up again. This, she says, will allow the sunlight to help rouse them in the morning.
And one last thing: Labor Day. You may be tempted to have one final summer blowout during this three day weekend, but you’d be better off resisting the urge. If you’ve already started school or, like us, you go back the day after Labor Day, that last summer hurrah may just wipe out all your efforts to get back on track.
Image: Mads Boedker/Flickr