September 6, 2011

Tips on Tuesday

Back to school also means back to bedtime routines. 

We are fairly relaxed in the summer and tend to let each child listen to their own internal clock (within reason) to go to bed and feel rested the next day.  As September approaches we taper the late night owl habits and instill a healthier schedule with a 7am alarm clock in mind.  Each child is different and has specific sleep needs.  On the weekend Dan is the guy that I have to go into his room and flash the lights to get his attention and send to bed at the early hours of the morning as he is entranced by a book or game. He needs a good 8-10 hours of sleep to be in any kind of good mood on a school day..  Meaghan is dead tired at 9pm and passes out long before anyone in the family.  She is fairly easy to get up in the morning and is happy with 10-12 hours sleep.  Paisley is a mid-night sleeper.  Not midnight though.  She still needs at least 10 hours sleep and is quite happy in the morning.  Personally,  I need at least 8 good hours of sleep to be awake and friendly in the morning.  Anything extra is nice but not necessary.  I used to love lounging in bed and reading before getting moving but as I get older I tend to jump out of bed faster.  Resting in bed is now reserved for special occasions.

How do you schedule bedtimes?
Communication and Consistency.

We talk about the upcoming bedtime schedule and prepare the children for the changes.
We make their bedrooms a retreat so that they are comfortable and capable of going to sleep happily.  This may mean new books or a good reading light or small toys to keep them quiet.  No electronic devices before bed except music.  None.  We have always had quiet time before bed to encourage reading and as the kids have gotten older it really does make it easier for them to fall asleep.   I know many parents with televisions and DVD players in their children's rooms, not to mention gaming systems.  Do what works for your family.  For us, this was not something I was ready to do and I have very strict rules about Nintendo DS systems that they do have.  Friday and Saturday nights only and if your chores and homework are done.  I have had a few meltdowns about how "other kids" have much more lenient parents and they get to "play" more often.  "Oh well" is my response.  I want to raise readers not gamers.  I want to raise children who play well with real people and not just imaginary characters.  Most of all, I want sleepers.

As for consistency, we have the same schedule each night but each child has an age appropriate bedtime.  Bedtimes are open to negotiation at the beginning of each school year but can always be revoked if actions do not reflect a well rested child.  Flexibility for special events or holidays is always a choice.  Rigidity can be stressful.

You are the parent and have the child's welfare in mind.  Sleep is extremely important.  Get them to bed!  The added bonus is time for you to relax with your partner or doing your own reading.

What are you doing to help your child get to bed?  Do you have a special routine?

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