Bringing Bedtime Back: The Trials and Tribulations of a Bedtime Routine

Bringing Bedtime Back: The Trials and Tribulations of a Bedtime Routine

Get tips on how to make a smooth transition from summer to school sleep habits.


The consensus around my house during the waning days of summer is that it’s best to squeeze out every last pool trip and late night sleepover possible. So it never fails: I try to resume our usual sleep routine for the school year and I’m met with frustration, tears and begging.

If you’re trying to re-establish an earlier bedtime and it feels like a daunting task, you’re not alone. Here are some tips to help your children get back on the sleep train — without as much resistance.

The Early Bird

It takes a while for anything to become a habit, and kids are no different. So there’s no time like the present to get started. I’ve been reinforcing earlier bedtimes — starting two weeks before the first day of school. Keep in mind that it may take longer than two weeks if you have a younger child who has become a night owl over the summer.

Before you initiate rules on sleep, here’s an age-based guide from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (these are general guidelines, not exact rules) to back up your cause:

  • Preschoolers (3- to 5-year olds) need 11 to 12 hours every night.
  • School-age children (5- to 12-year-olds) need at least 10 hours every night.
  • Teenagers should get 9 or 10 hours of sleep each night.
  • Adults, of course, need the tried-and-true 7 to 8 hours per night.

Make Sleep (and Mornings) Worth it


Getting in a good night’s sleep is always a good thing, and it’s something your kids will come to appreciate, too. One way to get your kids excited about waking up early is to give them something they can look forward to. Maybe it’s quality snuggle time in the morning, or a hearty breakfast (with their favorite — pancakes!). Whatever it is, explain to them that waking up early will give the time they need to fit in all the fun things they want to do before school.

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Creature of Habit

Just like how you need complete silence and darkness to sleep, your children likely need specific conditions for shuteye. Studies often say a dark, cool room (no electronic distractions) is the best setting for sleep.

Whether it’s a bedtime story or brushing your teeth together, a bedtime routine prepares your children psychologically to accept that it’s time for rest. Also, try to establish that your child’s bedroom is for sleep and only sleep. Just knowing that it’s time for bed and being in a place only meant for sleep can often be enough to tire anyone out — no matter what age.

Set Examples Yourself


To truly set a standard, you yourself might have to take your own advice. Put down the phone and indulge in your own rituals. If you’re staying up into the night, your kids may wonder why they have to sleep, so do your best to go to bed at a decent hour. You’ll appreciate the extra sleep, too!

Getting your kids back on a regular sleep schedule may take some preparation, but if you start early it will not only help prepare them for the first day of school, it will also bring a nice closure to summer.

Do you have any tips for getting kids to readjust to a school schedule?

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