I absolutely love when the kids return to school.
It is so wonderful that they go to sleep at 8:00 pm every night during summer. They read for 30 minutes before bed, of course after they have done the dishes and cleaned their rooms. They go upstairs on their own. They put away their clothes and brush their teeth. They kiss us goodnight, say their prayers, and drift peacefully into la-la land. My wife and I get along great without any conflict. We sit peacefully reading and writing while cuddling on the couch.
So, we have only ourselves to blame. Kerry and I are like most parents that I know. We let our kids stay up later during summer. There really isn’t a set bedtime. Some nights Kerry is sleeping before they are. I tend to be a control freak with making sure everyone is off to bed before me. In fact, I can honestly say I recall only one night when I went to bed before anyone else and I was sick as a dog – didn’t stop them from waking me for 8 million things they needed or simply to point out that it was weird. Thanks, guys.
The key to this is making sure your marriage does not explode because of a natural brain problem. Here is where I introduce circadian rhythms.
We have an internal “brain” clock that is set to help us with waking up, going to sleep, when to poop in the morning, and when not to at night – cause that could prove problematic if you have diarrhea in the pjs and sheets – and a bunch of other stuff. So, if we let our kids stay up later in summer and expect them to be perfect with going to sleep the first week of school, then we are idiots. We can’t fight science.
Some of you may say that your kids did great with the transition. Wonderful! Some people can acclimate in that way. All I am trying to stress is that the kids who struggle with this simply need a change in structure.
Keep calm and remember Field of Dreams: if you build it they will come. Build the structure. Again, the key piece is to stay calm and focus on mindfulness. You lose your mind, they will follow, but not in the way you want!
HERE’S MY TIPS:
- Explain the importance of sleep. I love to be psychotic after staying up for days – or maybe not so much. Kids can respond the same way. They need sleep for balance. They grow while they sleep. Stress how it helps their brain and body become the best it can be. Stress that they will have energy to perform on the playground or in sports. They will get better grades – and for the skeptics, try being sleep deprived versus having adequate sleep and check your own performance…I know mine is much better if I have slept enough. They need to get sleep so they aren’t cranky all the time. Use yourself as an example. Help them think of a time when you did not sleep enough and you were grumpy. Point out that they didn’t like it and other people won’t as well. Focus on how much happier they will be and how people will like spending time with them much more because they won’t be psychotic little demanding zombies.
- Sit down and talk with the kids about a plan of action. Most people think a good night sleep is 8 hours. School-aged children should be sleeping about 9 to 11 hours nightly while going to bed at around the same time nightly, including weekends. Explain to the kids what time they will be going to bed and how the bedtime routine will go. A schedule initially is a pain but is an investment for you for the rest of the time they live in your home and for them for the rest of their lives. The sooner we begin a habit the longer it will last.
- Stick to it! Make sure that you stick to the plan. If you are with a partner/spouse, make sure you are on the same page and support one another in this plan. You have to teach your children to follow through. You are the leaders. They will follow, even if they show a little resistance at first. Think of it this way, if you drink coffee every morning and I simply told you that you no longer can drink it, you might get a little pissed and have a tantrum the first day that I keep coffee from you. Welcome to your kids’ lives when you make changes.
- A lot of people will tell me that they have schedules that change with soccer and work. Everyone has something that will pose a problem. This means we have to make adjustments. If they have to read 30 minutes per day and know they won’t have as much time on Wednesday because of practice or band, then read 60 minutes on Tuesday. For those of you who say they have too many activities to do this…then your kids are in too many activities! I know that sounds harsh but ALL of us need balance. We are trying to teach our kids to be independent and healthy but sometimes we teach them to take on too many things. Try to evaluate if it is too much. Kids can become overwhelmed and tired and need us to manage their schedules and activities in a fashion that best serves them. Kids should be involved in various activities and sports, yet, they also need to learn to have down time.
- Make sure you recognize this information applies to you. Now, reread it and think about what changes you have to make. (Didn’t see that one coming, did you?)
Now the kids are back to school, it’s also a great time to invest in your own health and happiness. A great way to start is by taking my new class, Transformation 101! You can learn more about people’s experiences in my testimonials, and right here on my wife Kerry’s site (she runs the class for women too!) you can book right through her site 🙂