Experts will tell you to start getting kids back on a schedule a few weeks beforehand by going to bed a few minutes earlier each night until you’re back on school hours. They’ll also tell you to avoid caffeine after lunch.
We know you didn’t do that, but you can start now, whether you have two more days until school starts or two weeks.
Kids do require more sleep than adults. Think 10 to 11 hours on average for Junior. National Jewish Health organization breaks it down this way: For newborns (0-3 months), that’s 14-17 hours a day; for infants (4-12 months), 12-16 hours; toddlers (1-2 years old) 11-14 hours; preschoolers (3-5 years old) 10-13 hours; school-age (6-12 years old) 9-12 hours; and adolescents (13-18 years old), 8-10 hours.
How do you know if they are getting enough sleep, which 25 percent to 40 percent of kids don’t at some point? Kids who are sleep deprived exhibit symptoms similar to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, have difficulty waking up, sleep more than two hours extra on the weekends, and fall asleep in inappropriate places.
Get kids involved in what the bedtime and morning routine will be. Will they shower in the morning or at night? Will there be a story before bed or just quiet time? Night light or no night light? Door open or shut? What time is lights out, and what happens if they don’t abide by that?
Doctors at National Jewish Health organization recommend these bedtime steps:
- At least 30 minutes before bedtime, turn off all electronics and allow your child time to wind down. A consistent bedtime routine should include relaxing activities, such as a bath and a bed-time story (for young children) or reading time (for older children).
- Create a proper sleeping environment. Bedrooms should be cool, dark, and comfortable.
- Get technology out of the bedroom. Computers, televisions, video games, and cell phones should be removed from your child’s room and set up in a different location. Why? Because if not, your teenager could be getting texts and messages all night long from their friends who also aren’t sleeping, or your grade-schooler could be finding some fun things to watch on Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network in the middle of the night.
In the morning, how will they wake up and at what time? Will they set the alarm or will you? Do they want you to yell at them or gently nudge them? Or do you need to physically move them until they make it to the bathroom and into the shower? How long will they have in the bathroom before someone else needs it?
Set the expectations early of what that nighttime and morning routine will be, but don’t set it in stone. One sick kid, one parent out of town, one early morning practice and you’ll need to make adjustments.
Happy sleeping and happy mornings!