There is something about summer vacation that makes it seem as if the rules go out the window and things like bedtimes and eating vegetables should be packed away with school books and backpacks until fall rolls around. Unfortunately, not every family has the luxury of adjusting their entire schedule to enable a more leisurely lifestyle that also allows everyone to get enough sleep. Moms and Dads still have to get up in the morning and go to work which means kids have to get up and go to camp or childcare. Late nights and early mornings don’t mix any better during the summer than they do when school is in session.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, school age children need at least nine hours of sleep each night to be healthy and have the energy they need to be active. The best way to make sure kids are getting the sleep they need is to stick to a standard schedule of bedtime and wake time. But during the summer, that isn’t always an easy thing to do. To help parents prepare for a successful summer full of fun and slumber, here are 4 tips for helping kids on a summer sleep schedule.
1. Set a Bedtime You Can Stick to that Works with Your Schedule
There is no point in setting a summer bedtime that you won’t be able to follow. Be realistic about what your family’s summer schedule is really like. Are you out and about later into the day than during the rest of the year? Are you traveling or having family visit? When do your children need to be up in the morning? All these questions should feed into setting a summer bedtime that will work for your family.
2. Make Sleep a Priority
Children need 9-10 hours of sleep and they need to see that sleep is important for them and for the rest of the family. Make sure each family member has room in the schedule to get the sleep their body needs to be healthy.
3. Allow for Free Time
In our fast paced world, we are apt to over schedule our lives and the lives of our children. Let summer be a break from structured, scheduled time and make sure your children have free time to play and explore. Overscheduled children can become stressed out and too much stress can keep them from getting the sleep they need, even if you schedule it in.
4. Follow the Same Routine
During the school year, it is likely that your child has a specific routine they follow in order to get ready for bed. They change into pajamas; brush their teeth, read a book, etc. Try to keep this routine as similar as possible during the summer to reinforce that muscle memory that tells the body it’s time to go to bed. This will also make it easier to get back on a regular sleep schedule once summer is over.