Beating the Back-to-School Blues
The sound of zipping backpacks and pencils being sharpened can only mean one thing: it’s back-to-school time! Many parents look forward to each fall when their kids’ lives return to a more predictable schedule, only to lament the time it takes to get their kids back on track after a summer of staying up late and sleeping in. Instead of giving into the temptation to let the last few weeks of summer wile away, take advantage of this time to get your kids back on schedule.
Children ages 5-10 years function best when they get 10-11 hours of sleep each night, while preteens and teens need 8-9.5 hours a night. Studies show that students who receive enough sleep experience an improved mood, better behavior, and increased ability to pay attention. Plan bedtimes according to wake times, allowing enough time for your kids to get ready in the morning – including eating a healthy breakfast.
Starting a few weeks before school begins, move your child’s bedtime up by about 15 minutes for a few days. Continue adding another 15 minutes to the bedtime schedule until your child is getting the recommended amount of sleep and is able to wake up with plenty of time to get ready in the morning. Once you have school-year bedtimes established, do your best to maintain these times even on the weekends, if possible.
Below are some additional tips to avoid the back-to-school madness:
- Take advantage of the morning sun: Leave your kids’ blinds open at night when you put them to bed. The extra early light may rouse your kids sooner and give them the extra boost they need to get out of bed on time.
- Create a staging area: The night before, lay out backpacks, library books, and sports equipment in one location. Have lunches made and packed so all your children have to do is grab them from the refrigerator before dashing for the bus or carpool.
- Don’t take on too much: Avoid signing your kids up for extracurricular activities until they have proven they can handle the daily rigors of school, including homework and getting to bed at a decent hour. If your child can’t handle these basics, avoid the temptation to complicate matters by committing them too soon to sports or other activities.
While the prospect of getting back on a regular schedule may seem daunting, with a little planning and organization many families bounce back into the school grind within weeks.