Back to School, Back to Sleep, What Does That Even Mean?
We are all currently are living during a time where our daily lives; our families and our children’s sleep schedules have been uprooted. How often do we find ourselves wondering what day of the week it is? Do you find yourself fighting and resisting the urge to sleep-in?
The reality is our routines have shifted so much, that we no longer need to wake-up at 6:30am to get the kids ready for school. They roll out of bed, and their pajama-clad selves are immediately marked present and accounted for, the second they login to the computer and before breakfast has even been consumed. And what has happened over the past few months is that somehow all of the structure that you had to implement to keep your well-oiled machine that is a family running smoothly has totally gone out the window. Before you know it, your kids are going to sleep later and later and bedtimes are a distant memory. After a long summer, and endless stream of months where days and weekends blur into one, it is not surprising that most children will need to reset their biological clocks in order to transition back into school mode. Here are a few tips from our co-founder Iva, mother of 2, on how to integrate your kids into new a routine and transition them for back-to school, be it online, in-class or some combination of whatever these even mean these days!
First and foremost,
1. Get them outside, and keep them there!
Make sure your kids spend ample time outdoors each day, in whatever capacity you have available in your neighborhood. It could be taking a walk to the post office, scavenger hunts, or making walking the dog their “job,” the more time they spend outdoors, the more they can burn off excess energy, and the more they are taught that this is an integral part of their day. In the absence of jungle gyms, and games of tag, the more creative we can get, the better they will sleep.
2. Dim the lights after dinner, to transition their circadian rhythm to signify sleep mode
My 4-year old son loves to tell us each night that it is getting dark outside, and it’s time for bed. He already understands how important is to live within alignment with your innate circadian rhythm. Many children like him, are sensitive to indoor lighting. My daughter is unfazed by it, which explains why she is also our family’s resident night owl. But for him, once the lights have dimmed he is usually off to his bed and sleeping within the half hour that follows, and without any prodding or requests for one-more book to be read.
3. Limit tech time to 30 minutes in the evening to watch their favorite show.
In our house we do this by mandatorily having all TV’s turned off off by 7pm. You can even set the sleep timer on your TV as a reminder. And yes, that goes for the computer also. If they still have energy leftover to expel, a better direction for that energy is to do a family game, listen to music, work on a puzzle, draw or work on their LEGO build. This is also important because of the blue light that these devices radiate. We are glued to our devices and technology so much these days (even more now that education has become reliant on it), and that constant exposure affects your internal body clock.
4. Read a book with them or look at creating family photo albums
Since we could not travel to see our family overseas this summer, my children have loved to spend time looking at photo albums and pictures of their grandparents and cousins. Reminiscing about their favorite moments of summers past, when getting together around a table and under the sun was always a given. Create new books to chronicle and give validity to their new experiences separate from friends, so they can share it with them once things are safer. We now know even more, just how precious cherishing and sharing those moments is.
5. Set a NEW bedtime routine for your family
Very often we read blog posts about how every kid needs a certain type of schedule for bedtime. This could not be further from the truth. Every child is different in its needs, and so is every family dynamic. See what works for you and yours and own it. My 4-year old son goes to sleep earlier than my 8-year old daughter, who could outlast all of us. But in your family it may be the oldest that requires the most sleep or needs a nap. Also, what worked 6 months ago, may not work now because our energy levels are different. So first and foremost, cut yourself and your family some slack and just look at it as an opportunity to create and reset as needs shift.
6. Kids can meditate also, and they just may be better at it than you!
We believe that no child is too young to be taught about wellbeing. And even if you don’t have all the tools, there are ones out there for you. There are great-guided meditation options on YouTube just for kids. The Land of the Unicorns is one that my daughter loves to listen to, while she winds downs in the evening and it helps her fall asleep quickly. Even though we are trying to steer clear of our devices, use your headspace or insight timer app on your Bluetooth speaker, and create a ritual around listening to meditations or crystal singing bowls before bed. And the best part is falling asleep during these meditations is the desired outcome.
7. Let them borrow your sleep mask, or better yet get them their own!
You will be surprised at how many kids love to sleep with sleep masks. It’s like a fun slumber party favor that you get to use afterwards! Rashia teaches crystal classes for kids, and they love it because it is easy for them to connect to the energy of nature, of rocks and shells and the like. My daughter Lana loves knowing that our RE.LEASE sleep mask has crystals inside it, and that it’s a way to get kids to feel empowered, special and “in charge” of their sleep experience. My son loves it since he is more sensitive to light, that it blocks out any distractions as he is falling asleep. Kids definitely understand and connect the power of crystals and she loves to say that the “RE.VITYL sleep mask is magical”. And she’s right about that!
All of our sleep products are suitable for all ages, genders, sexes and even we even know of a pet or two that just may try to steal your RE.LAX Sleep Pad!
I’ll say it again because we as parents often need to hear it more than once. DO NOT feel any guilt around your children’s sleep schedule. As parents today, our society often makes us feel like everything in our life should be picture perfect according to rules of some celebrity or person of influence. Don’t give-in to that illusion. What works for YOUR family, and your family alone is the perfect routine for you. And at the end of the day, remember that your kids are learning self-care and mindfulness practices from watching you. Take care of yourself first, let your kids see you doing so and that it is a priority, then it becomes something that they come to respect, and it will inspire and motivate them to want to create the same thoughtful experiences and spaces and energy alignment for themselves!