Heading Back-to-School and Getting Back on the Sleep Track

Back into a bedtime routine for school!

It’s time to head back to school soon and while school supplies are being bought and labelled there is one thing that is often overlooked when preparing for back to school.

And that’s our child’s sleep.

It’s important for your child to be well-rested during the school year to promote:

Stronger Cognitive Ability

  • It can be hard to learn and remember new things when tired. A well-rested child has an easier time heightening skills that are needed in school such as, attention, memory and decision-making.

Better Mood and Temperament

  • We all know what our mood is like when we haven’t had enough sleep. It’s no different for our children who actually need more sleep than we do. Let’s face it children will not bring home any student awards without sleep. Logging in more sleep at night will mean more pleasant behaviour and their teachers will thank you for it.

Stable Immune System

  • The better rested your child is, the stronger their immune system will be to fight off colds and viruses that spread across the classrooms during the school year. Ick! Boost your kids’ sleep and you’ll boost your kids’ health.

There are steps you can take and ones to avoid when starting to get your family back on sleep track before the school year starts.

What to Include:

Bring Back Their Age Appropriate Bedtime

  • During the summer months routines tend to be thrown out the window so it’s important that once school begins you make sure that your child starts going to bed early again. Appropriate bedtimes for toddlers and school-aged children are between 7 and 8pm.
  • Tip! You need to reset your child’s internal clock in your back to elementary school routine and you can start doing this at least 2 weeks before school actually starts. During the week and even on the weekends have your child go to bed and wake up at the same time they will once school begins to prevent insomnia in children.

Reinstate the Calming Bedtime Routine

  • Doing similar activities before your child goes to bed each night will really help cue them that sleep is coming next making for a more relaxing and calming bedtime routine for everyone. Reading kids books instead of watching TV is a great way to do this.
  • Tip! Give your child a 10-15 minute warning before getting ready for bed so they are prepared and know what to expect.

Communicate Their Sleep Needs

  • Discuss the importance of sleep with your child. Ask them why they need sleep, how much sleep do they think they need, how do they feel when they are tired, and how do they feel when they get a good night of sleep. Opening this sleep training communication helps them understand why you are making the necessary changes to their routines and helps to build a healthy relationship between sleep and your child.

What to Avoid:

Staying Plugged In

  • Remember to remove over stimulating activities during the bedtime routine and turn off the TV and computers. The bright lights from the screen can turn our sleep switch off by slowing down the release of melatonin.
  • Tip! At least 60 minutes before bedtime turn off tech. It’s a great tip for you too mom and dad.

Consuming too Much Caffeine

  • Watch your child’s caffeine intake throughout the day. Avoid soda, chocolate and iced tea in late afternoon and at dinnertime.

Scheduling Too Many Activities

  • Be careful not to overschedule your child’s activities. If evenings are tough and rushed then opt for a weekend class, where your child will feel more rested taking it and you won’t be rushed to get there.
  • Tip! It’s okay to have one day off. Choose one day on the weekend to be your family’s day off and protect that downtime. Hang out with the kids and have some quality bonding time. They need a day to relax and so do you.

Following these steps can help make an easier transition back into elementary school and better nights and mornings for the entire family. And maybe this year they might just bring home a few student awards.

 

 

 

About the Author

Alanna McGinn is a mother of three (1 + twins!), Sleep Consultant and Founder of Good Night Sleep Site, and Representative and Director for the International Association of Child Sleep Consultants (IACSC).  When she’s not on route to the bus stop or tripping over fire trucks and tea sets, she’s working with families to overcome their sleep challenges. Follow Alanna on Facebook and Twitter for daily sleep tips and advice.

When One Parent Travels … a lot.

For the last 2.5 years, Daddy-o has been a FIFO (Fly In, Fly Out) Father. His current client requires that he be onsite during the week so as such, he arrives home on Friday nights, then leaves again on Sunday evenings. I have not written about it because I was advised not to go public that I was ‘alone’ during the week. But since I don’t feel “vulnerable”, if someone wants to break into my house based on the fact that there is no man around, they will have to get through Mama Bear first. Yeah, good luck with that.

Most of the time, I have these beauties all to myself!

So there is no ‘man of the house’ around during the week. Although an initial adjustment, we have worked with our situation quite well. Since my youngest is now five-years-old, ‘flying solo’ in the parenting department is much easier than it would have been a few years ago.

Making this arrangement work can be a bit of a trick. These are the lessons I have learned:

The FIFO parent:

  • Daddy-o was very excited to tell me about all the new and exciting things he could do now that he didn’t have the usual parent responsibilities. He got to exercise and get fit. He would tell me about his morning 1 km swims and how his post-work training sessions were going. Although happy for him, I would find myself feeling a little glum. All I could think was “and here I am, happy to get 30-seconds a day to move my bowels without interruption”.
  • Daddy-o was also excited to tell me about all the cool things he was watching on Netflix. He’s all caught up on “Lost” and watches all the amazing shows I only know about because of Twitter. The last TV show I watched was the season finale of “Seinfeld” in the mid-90s.
  • Occasionally on a Saturday, Daddy-o would turn to me and say “Wow – is the house always this noisy?” Yes. Yes, it is.

Lesson for the FIFO:

Keep on doing what you’re doing. Enjoy this time while you have it. Perhaps keeping a little bit of it to yourself is not a bad idea. It’s OK to share – but not too much or too often. Don’t go overboard relaying how much “me time” is happening.

Stay at Home Parents:

  • I know too well the temptation of handing off the kids when Daddy-o walks through the door on a Friday. He walks in and you kind of want to say, “Here you go! They’re all yours and I’m OUTTA here”. But here’s the thing – FIFOs don’t actually WANT to be away from their families. They are doing this for work. It is a sacrifice for them too and they don’t need to feel punished for it. Inevitably, the kids will feel like they are a burden on you during the week and that you only want your spouse home so that he can relieve you of that burden. That’s no fun for anyone.

It’s a tricky situation for everyone, but manageable if you have the right attitude and remember that everyone is doing the best they can for the family.

Do you have a FIFO parent in your family? Are you a FIFO? How has your family managed the transition?

 

About the Author:

Julie Cole Mabel's Labels

Julie Cole

Julie Cole is co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc., the leading provider of kids’ labels, and a proud mom of six.

The PANK Perspective: Kids say the darndest things…

Back in the Spring for one of our family vacations we travelled to Smyrna, DE to visit my Aunt and Uncle. With my boyfriend and I in one car, and my parents, brother, SIL and two nephews in a van, we drove for a good part of a day, maybe not the best trip planning but it worked out okay.

Upon arrival we settled in at the hotel, and grabbed take-out pizza. All of us huddled into my brother’s room to eat. You’d think that after so many hours in the car, we’d want to be as far away from each other as possible, but we didn’t. This is one of the best parts of family vacations. We took advantage of spending this quality time together, and thankfully we all like each other, so it’s never a chore to hang out. Over dinner, we gave my boyfriend the low-down on my Aunt and Uncle; where he once worked, how they are connected to my family and funny stories from the past. When he asked why my Mom’s brother lives in the States and not in Canada, he made a comment about the name of the town – Smyrna. He kept pronouncing it like Smear-na. We corrected him, but he was convinced that we were all saying it wrong. He then went on to say that no matter how you say it, it sounds like a dirty word.

“You’ve got some Smyrna on your shirt.”

“Kiss my Smyrna!”

“I just Smyrna’d, and it smells.”

Yes, this is the man that I love. What can I say; he’s pretty creative and always good for a few laughs. While he listed a few more ways to use the word, my nephew was playing swords and shields with his Papa and not paying much attention to us.

Fast forward to the next evening as we’re all gathered around the dining room table at my Aunt and Uncle’s house telling family stories. There was a brief moment of silence as we finished one story to start another when my nephew took the opportunity to ask me a question.

“Hey, Aunt Dee?”

“Yeah, buddy.”

“You got something up your Smyrna?”

Every single one of us, other than my Aunt and Uncle busted out laughing. We didn’t think he heard us talking about the name of the town, and we surely didn’t think he’d use it in that context. With my relatives looking confused, we explained my bf’s take on the word and they didn’t quite see the humour the same way we did. Crazy Canadians they’d say.

If there’s a dull, awkward or simply a quiet moment, on family vacations or otherwise you can bet a child will take advantage of it uttering one of the many funny things that kids say. We had many stories of our trip to Smyrna when we returned home, but one of our most favourite was what my nephew asked. Kids say the darndest things.

Do your kids say the darndest things? What are some funny kids quotes you’ve heard recently that had you busting at the seams with laughter?

PS – The boyfriend was told the correct pronunciation of the town by my Aunt and Uncle. He still thinks his version is right.

 

About the Author:

Diane Morris is a PANK; Professional Aunt, No Kids and works for Mabel’s Labels as the Sales Coordinator. She’s an Aunt to two boys, and an “Auntie” to her boyfriend’s niece and nephew. She’s a sucker for romance, country music and peanut butter.

Related Posts with Thumbnails