What time do your children go to bed in the summertime? What time do they wake up?
If you’re like most parents, the answers to these questions can be all over the place. One of the best aspects of summer is the lack of rules, routines, and schedules, right?
Well, if you’ve checked your calendar lately, you’ve probably noticed that this free-for-all is about to come to a screeching halt. Sad, but true.
In order to get ready for a more regimented lifestyle, where alarms are set and responsibilities are met, you and your family have to go into training mode. This is not one of those situations where ripping off the band-aid in one quick blow is best.
You’ll want to gradually allow bodies and minds to slowly adjust to earlier bedtimes and earlier wake times and naturally acclimate to the new normal.
Limit Screen Time at Night
If you want the kids to wake up earlier, they have to get to bed earlier. One habit that may be hindering their ability to fall asleep, and even the quality of their sleep, is the use of digital devices. Set up healthy boundaries around the use of screens. Consider implementing a cut-off time when all devices need to be put to bed long before anyone else gets tucked in. Oh, and Mom and Dad—you may want to follow suit.
Let Music Set the Mood
The power of music can be easily overlooked, but using it as a cue during different parts of your day can add a lovely element to your family vibe. Create a special wind-down playlist with calm, beautiful, slow pieces of music that signal each night to one and all that it’s time to begin to settle down. Turn off the television and turn on your playlist at a nice, low volume. Before long the first note will engender yawns.
Work the Lights
Similarly, consider the lighting in your home. Close the shades earlier if the sun is still shining when you aim to have everyone settle in. Dim overhead lights in the evening and consider the use of candles for a more soothing, natural light. A gradual darkening and softer lighting will signal to your family that it’s almost time to close your eyes.
Get New Books for Bedtime
Of course, make sure there’s enough light to read by. A fun way to make bedtime more enjoyable is to bring some new books into the mix. Take a trip to the library or your favorite bookstore and allow the kids to choose some fresh reads for bedtime. This is one way to make the project of adjusting sleep schedules a cause for celebration.
Lower the Temperature at Night
Another adjustment to the environment is the temperature in your home. Cooler temperatures tend to be more conducive to sleep. It encourages one to snuggle in under the covers and drift off to dreamland undisturbed.
Once you’ve got the bedtime routine down pat, you’ll want to aim for an earlier waking time. Each night, count eight to ten hours past the time everyone managed to get to sleep and set the alarm for that time. Choose a nice sound to wake everyone up. As summer break dwindles, aim for earlier bedtimes, resulting in earlier wake times and relieving the pressure on the first day of school.