It’s natural that after six months with kids at home, parents are experiencing mixed emotions with the advent of schools reopening. For most, it’s a combination of relief and excitement but also some anxiety. How will we cope with this important milestone? Most children have been without a structured routine for months. Relaxed summer evenings have meant later bedtimes and wake-up times as well. Many parents are now panicking about re-establishing a sensible routine.
Getting the right amount of sleep is critical to physical and mental development. Reception children, in particular struggle with extreme tiredness during their first year as they adjust to their new school routines. It’s absolutely vital to get children into a supportive night-time routine. So how do we get kids back into a night-time routine for back to school?
Easy Night-Time Routine For Kids
1. Earlier Bedtime
An obvious place to start, but don’t expect kids that are used to going to bed two hours later to suddenly be ready to go to bed much earlier.
It’s better to gradually adjust bedtime over the course of a couple of weeks to bring it into line with what you want. You can start by pushing it forward five to fifteen minutes earlier per day.
You can also find out how much sleep your child needs. This will serve as a guide for when bedtime should be. A reception aged child needs roughly eleven hours of sleep. If they need to be up at 7am, then they need to be in bed (ideally asleep) by 8 pm.
Find out how much sleep your child should get here.
Getting kids to bed earlier means being really organised. You’ll need to plan ahead, ensure the evening meal is ready earlier and that there’s enough time for homework, baths and down-time before bed.
Keeping bed-time consistent also helps your child’s circadian rhythm and they’ll fall asleep more easily.
2. Put the Tech Away
It’s been proven that exposure to tech devices delays the onset of sleep and affects its quality. The culprit is artificial blue light that items like Ipads, computer games and televisions emit. This suppresses melatonin, our body’s sleep-inducing hormone and makes the user more alert and less sleepy. In effect, we’re telling our bodies we want to stay awake when we don’t!
Make a rule that screen time stops at least an hour before bedtime.
3. Introduce a Relaxing Bed-time Routine
During the hour before bed, keep everything calm and low-key. Try relaxing baths, a milky drink, reading books together, telling stories, relaxing music, drawing and colouring, a puzzle, one on one time, a chat etc.
If your child’s finding it difficult to sleep or wind down, why not try applying our SLEEP WELL Aromatherapy Balm a few minutes before bed.
4. Create a Sleep Friendly Bedroom
Where possible limit toys in the bedroom. It’s good to keep some books in the bedroom though. That way, they can quietly look at their books if they’re not ready for sleep. Send the message that bed-time is for rest not playtime.
Make sure the bedroom is cool enough or warm enough depending on the season. Lighting should be subtle. Linen should be laundered. Aromatherapy can add to the sleep-inducing ambience if the child likes it. It should definitely be a tech-free zone.
Getting enough exercise aids a good night’s sleep. That’s not just me saying that. It’s been scientifically proven. Children need to let off steam after school. Playing in the garden or a short trip to the park after school allows them to do that and get much-needed fresh air. Even better, a short walk after the evening meal can help you all transition into the night-time routine.
Serotonin and melatonin aid our sleep. A balanced diet can help to promote a good balance of these hormones. Choose chicken, cheese, tuna, eggs, nuts and milk which are high in serotonin. You can also incorporate most of these (nuts aside) into your child’s lunchbox.
Kids always seem to want to snack before bedtime. This in itself isn’t a bad thing as it can help them last until the morning and induce sleep. Steer clear of sugar, caffeine or high calorie snacks that can be stimulating and hard to digest. Make sure you have milky drinks and small healthy snacks like a banana or something containing oats on hand.
Find out how your child is feeling about school. What’s worrying them? What are they looking forward to?
Help them to vocalise their fears and to find solutions or ways to manage them. If you feel you need advice with a specific worry, start by contacting your local children’s centre. Let your child’s teacher know too so they can offer support.
You might like to try calming activities like deep breathing, journaling, mindfulness or yoga with your child. These can be powerful tools which can be used throughout life to manage anxiety.