Summer can be the time to loosen up the reins on schedules.  It stays light later at night, school is out of session for most, and everything is just more relaxed, right?

While many thrive on the lazy days of summer, other moms crave the confidence and predictability a routine provides.  So with school schedules fast approaching, let’s answer your questions about how to get back on track and set your child up for success with back to school!

The first step is the determine how much sleep your child needs.  Below are the recommended sleep hours from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. 

Parents are often surprised by the amount of sleep a child actually needs.  Think about the AASM recommendations and reflect on your child’s ability to get up and get going for the day.

As the start of school approaches, consider adjusting both bedtime and wakeup times.  The secret is to start WAKING your child earlier in the morning.  7am or 7:30am is a good time to start with depending on how much time your child needs to get ready and what time school starts.  You can continue to push it back as you get closer to the first day.

As you start the earlier wake times, you can gradually adjust your child’s bedtime.  Once you have started the day earlier, your child should naturally be ready for an earlier bedtime.  For example, if the summer bedtime is 9pm, start by backing it up to 8:30pm the first day of early wake times.

The second secret is to make it FUN!  We happen to start the first day of early wake ups with DONUTS!  We always plan a Sleep Happy Wake Up Party with neighbors to make it something the children can look forward too.  That way the children up and out the door in the sunlight, running and playing with friends.  And who doesn’t love donuts!

Take this idea and make it your own.  Maybe you meet friends early at the donut store instead of planning a party in your driveway or maybe you and a mom friend take the kids out for breakfast.  As long as you are waking them up earlier than usual, requiring them to get dressed and including an element of fun, you are helping them get back in the swing of school routines.

Early wake up days are also a great time to practice independent dressing, teaching your child how to walk to school, or bus riding proceedures.

Getting outside in the sun early in the morning helps to naturally set body clocks.  Make notes on sleepy cues and how long it takes your child to fall asleep, as well as the mood when you wake them at 7am the next morning.  Children are creatures of habit.  Implementing this technique consistently for a week will help your child adjust to the new schedule.

Don’t know the right bedtime for your child?  Here is a great resource for determining bedtimes based on the time your child needs to be up in the morning:


This chart takes into account the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommended night sleep totals per age.  It quickly gives you the facts on a research based bedtime to consider to set your child up for school day success!  These bedtimes are a great place to start.  Give it 3-5 days of consistently working to implement these times and gather data about your individual child’s needs.  Then you can make adjustments.

A natural indicator for whether your child gets enough sleep is how they wake up at the designated time to prepare for the school bus or day care.  If your child wakes up refreshed and able to tackle the day, then they are typically getting enough sleep for their body.  If you struggle to wake them and keep them awake or experience frequent tantrums or resistance to moving through morning routines, this is an indicator that your child may need more sleep.

For families experiencing resistance with the morning routine, consider an earlier bedtime. Try setting morning routine expectations the day before during playtime, and create a visual sleep chart for your child.

By helping your child get the sleep they need you will set them up for success at school and make your time together after work more enjoyable.

As parents we want our children to have the restorative full night’s sleep they need to be focused and energized for the entire school day.

Be sure to share this with other friends who are stressed about getting back in the routine.  And hop over to our Facebook page to share your successes and struggles so that we can support each other as we all get back to our sleep happy routines!

Finding this information to be just what you were looking for, but struggling to put the pieces together specifically for your family?  I can help!  Click here to schedule a Free 15 Minute Phone Consultation to discuss what sleep looks like at your house and what kind of support you are looking for so that we can make your sleep dreams come true!

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