The kids are back in school. Why then is it so hard to get them into bed? If your bedtime routine went on summer vacation, now is the time to dig it out from under the winter coats and boots, shake it off and put it into action.
Here are a few things to remember:
- Children ages 2 to 6 need between 11 and 13 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period. (Younger children may get a portion of that in a daytime nap). If we budget 11 hours of sleep at night then children need to be asleep at 8 pm if they are getting up at 7 am for school.
- Kids often get tired around 6:30–7:00 pm. If we push them past that sleepy period (because we are enjoying their company), adrenalin starts to kick in, and what was once a tired youngster becomes and intergalactic missile who cannot be stopped until the adrenalin runs out.
- Some families quit late bed times cold turkey. Others like to do it in stages. Choose a plan that works for you, even if that means starting the bedtime routine 5–10 minutes earlier each night. If your plan doesn’t fit you, you won’t stick to it.
- Be sure that the routine works for the child now (not the child of last year). Evaluate whether your little one still needs you to put her pyjamas on—maybe she can do it herself now.
- Take time to write the plan down (with words and pictures for non-readers) along with times beside it so that everyone knows the plan. Your child can then take responsibility for telling you what comes next instead of you having to nag every step of the way.
Need more help? We have helped thousands of families with bedtime struggles. Like us at facebook.com/parentingpower to learn real life parenting tools for your family.
Julie Freedman Smith and Gail Bell provide tools for real life parenting through their company, Parenting Power™. Using over 40 years of combined experience, they work with parents across the country through telephone coaching and teleconferences to ease the stress and guilt of parents while providing practical solutions to everyday parenting challenges. Visit www.parentingpower.ca
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When you have kids, September, even more than January, feels like the time for a fresh start. The arrival of a new school year brings with it the chance to do better, especially when it comes to juggling all the moving parts that make up our lives.
I have a bit of a history of starting the school year with a huge burst of energy and then slowly fizzling out by Halloween. This year we have a lot on the go and it’s my responsibility to keep us rolling.
So I’m making some ‘back-to-school’ resolutions that I hope will keep me honest and the whole family on track:
- Build on the momentum of our current physical activities. Continue with karate, swimming and find a nearby, affordable gymnastics program for both kids.
- Come up with a daily routine that fits everything in. This means time for homework and reading, practicing instruments, outdoor play, household responsibilities, hanging with friends and downtime.
- Walk with friends a few times a week to keep my own physical activity levels up. A good friend of mine and I were doing this last year and it was a great way to catch up and get exercise.
- Be better at organizing playdates. I’m such a bad planner and I feel like my kids are lucky to get one playdate a week, while it seems other kids are marching off holding the hand of a different child every day.
- Do a load of laundry every night. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard the refrain ‘I don’t have any clean underwear,’ I’d be writing this list under a palm tree while someone else folds our delicates.
- Prepare, prepare, prepare…the night before. This includes homework, library books, gym clothes, signed forms in backpacks and by the door.
- Keep easy-to-grab snacks stocked in the pantry and in the fridge. This way the kids can be in charge of packing their own school snacks. Preparing food takes a lot of my time and energy, and I’d rather spend a bit more time stocking up once a week so I can delegate this daily responsibility.
- Plan meals. In the past, I have looked at the clock at 5 pm on too many school days and realized I had no clue what was for dinner.
- Try something new. I might finally try tennis. There is a court right behind our house, and even though I like listening to other people play, maybe it’s time for me to get one of those cute little tennis skirts and join the party. There’s also an art class that looks interesting; I might give that a whirl.
- Make my 5-year-old walk. I’m not pushing or pulling that kid around unless we are going somewhere really far. Resolved.
- Get off the hamster wheel and play with my kids. Like all of us, I can get caught up in the never-ending list of to-dos. This is the last year that I will have a child at home in the afternoons and I want to spend that time playing with him.
- Be on time! When you live a five minute walk from school is there really an excuse for arriving late, sweaty and dishevelled?
Wish me luck. If I’m still doing half of these by December I’ll consider myself successful. I’ll keep you posted.
And let me know if I’m on the right track by sharing your strategies for a smooth, healthy and active school year.
Sara Smeaton is a self-proclaimed non-sporty mom to her 7-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son. While working in advertising, as an interactive project manager, she avoided all company bowling outings and baseball games. Since having her kids, Sara continues to work as a freelancer and consultant; she is enjoying this new adventure writing for Active for Life.
Active for Life
is the place where parents go for their kids' health and success. We believe that teaching kids to run, jump and throw is as important as reading, writing and arithmetic. Make a difference in the happiness and confidence of your children by ensuring they are physically literate. Find activities, expert advice and inspirational tips at Active for Life