21 August 2013

Back-to-school wake up call: transitioning to early bedtimes and mornings

At Amazon: Sonic Boom Alarm Clock (affiliate link)For those of us grabbing onto the last days of summer with white-knuckle fists, the back-to-school bedtime and morning routines can be a hard sell. But easing late-sleeping kids into a school-friendly schedule does make the transition easier on everyone.

Folks have been posting back to school questions and tips on the Parent Hacks Facebook page, and these comments came up:

Adjusting times the week before school starts

From Brenda:

I always start adjusting bed times and wake times a week before school starts. That way, by the time the first day of school arrives, they have started to get back into the routine (and so have I).

I always mean to do this, but I don't always hit the mark. But then my kids' sleep needs have changed as they've gotten older. During the younger years, early bedtimes (before 9pm) were the norm, but now my kids are better at regulating their own sleep habits. My 13 year-old son even asked me to start getting him up early during these last weeks of summer "so I can get used to it again." *gobsmacked*

See also: How to help your kid/teen wake on her own. My son still sleeps through his alarm clock, but we persist. Coming soon: my review of the Sonic Boom alarm clock (pictured here).

The other reason I think this is smart is because it not only helps bodies, but mindsets. I find that a few days of thinking "back to school" helps us anticipate the fun of seeing friends again, and talk about the positives of structure and challenge after a summer of loosey-goosey.

School morning trial runs...with a reward

Krispy Kreme doughnuts
Krispy Kreme doughnuts, AKA motivation.

Betsy takes a more active approach to transition, and even turns it into a fun end-of-summer activity:

The week before school is trial school runs. If we can get out the door with breakfast done and an empty backpack at the proper school time we pile in the car, drive past the school and head somewhere fun. Most popular destination is Krispy Kreme.

Some have said this week is most helpful for ME, the mama, to learn how to get back on schedule, but I scoff at that. (Writing in pjs at 9:15.)

How smart is that?

How do you help your kids (and yourself) transition from summer to back-to-school?

Your comments

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It's a bit late for this tip to be of any real use this year, but we make a point of not getting off-schedule during Summer. With few special exceptions, Summer bedtime is still (for our 7 yr old) 8:30 P.M. sharp. And since our son attends a Summer Camp, wakeup time remains pretty consistent too.

Of course, we stick with scheduled bedtimes even on weekends regardless of the time of year...

We stick to pretty much the same bedtime year round. Maybe give it 30 more minutes now and then depending on activities summer/winter. They tend to get up at 6am whether they go to bed at 8:30p or midnight so I insist on the same bedtime so I don't have tired cranky kids all day. But just to be sure we do start setting the 6:30a alarm a week before school to get them used to doing it.

I depend on natural consequences. I don't really do anything. I've found out that my daughter HATES missing breakfast at school because it's the best time to socialize. The night before the first day, she stayed up till midnight and woke up at 8. She was late to breakfast, and I told her "I'll take you whenever you're ready. I'm not going to drag you out the door."
Next morning, stayed up till midnight, woke up at 6. Made it to breakfast, but pouted all day because she was tired. The next morning, she took herself to bed at 9, woke up at 6, and reported to me ready to leave at 7:30. Got to school early, and got even more hangout time.

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