Getting kids back into a good sleep routine after holidays

While longer than normal sleep-ins and a bit more than the usual access to the Playstation has been a wonderful part of the school holidays for most children, the looming school term means that parents need to think about re-setting those little body clocks so that they are primed for the start of the school year.

Holidays can induce jet-lag-like symptoms in children as well as in adults, brought on by late nights, sleep-ins, afternoon naps and overseas travel for some. Luckily, just like with jet lag, there are plenty of easy interventions that can help reset little bodies and re-establish a healthy rhythm.

Sydney’s Cheryl Fingleson of Cheryl The Sleep Coach offers some great tips on how to achieve this.

“It can take three to four days to set up a good sleep schedule so I advise all parents to start a week or so before school goes back, and to be patient with their children as this is not always a smooth process,” Cheryl says.

1. Rise with the light

Firstly, its important to use nature’s built in cues. Go into the children’s bedrooms in the early morning and open the drapes or blinds to let in the early sunlight. If it’s practical, outdoor exercise on a sunny morning is an optimum way to get the day started.

2. Slow down at night

The opposite applies at night. Cheryl Fingleson advises parents to use the darkness to let their children’s bodies know that it is time wind down. Switch off the TV and games at least an hour before bed, if not sooner. Allow children to bath at leisure, read alone or together, and put them to bed in a dark, cool, quiet room.

3. Re-establish regular bed and wake times

For the first few nights after a holiday it may still be hard to go to sleep and wake up at the optimum times. But it’s important for parents to enforce a regular bed and wakeup time, similar to the one they use in the school term.

“Little people who are tired from an early start will go to bed a little easier that night,” Cheryl says.

4. Ban the afternoon nap

Cheryl also advises against allowing daytime naps for school aged children. “In the post-holiday adjustment period, taking naps may actually leave children quite groggy and disoriented,” she says.

“Try to keep the children awake through outside play, craft, an afternoon swim or a story.”

5. Clear up the bedroom clutter

It’s also a good idea to pay attention to the child’s sleep environment. Clear any holiday clutter including lingering Christmas presents and strewn clothing. A tidy bedroom is more conducive to relaxation, a bed that has been well-made will be more comfortable, and the lack of piles of toys and books will help alleviate any underlying anxieties.

6. Eat well, eat together

Cheryl Fingleson’s final tips for tired clients recovering from the silly season, is to pay attention to healthy and regular meals.

“There are many great ways to encourage your child’s body to relax and reset,” she says. “Healthy, regular meals are a great bonding and balancing tool. You can also encourage quiet baths, essential oils, meditation or solitary reading, especially since we all know that rejuvenation involves a lot more than just sleep. As the school year approaches, one of the best gifts we can give these young people is a rested, prepared and energised state of mind.”

7. Set a good example

Its not just the children who need to recalibrate after the holidays. Cheryl advises parents to set the tone in the home by modelling wellness and embracing good sleep habits as part of their post-holiday resolutions.

By employing some or all of these techniques, clients both big and small will notice a healthy change in their sleep quality and they should be able to return to regular work and school patterns quite quickly.

The information contained in this article was provided on behalf of Cheryl the Sleep Coach. Visit the Cheryl The Sleep Coach website to find out more.

Do you find that your kids struggle to readjust to ‘normal’ bedtimes during those first few days of school?

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  1. Alezandra 03/03/2019 at 11:01 pm

    We’ve kept to the same sleep routine even during the holidays and it helped. Although the occasional nap happened during the holidays, it didnt seem to affect when he started back at kindy. But thanks for the tips on the eat well, eat together. I guess during the holidays, we got a little slack. It’s always good to maintain a good and healthy habit.

  2. SarahBlair 02/03/2019 at 9:43 pm

    Sometimes it’s so difficult to get the kids to bed! We tried to keep the bedtimes the same throughout the holidays but sometimes the heat was too unbearable to be able to sleep! We find if we keep the kids busy during the day by bedtime they are usually ready to fall asleep.

  3. kymmage 01/03/2019 at 7:04 am

    Some great tips. For the most part even in holidays we try to stick to Bedtime being when it is. Obviously over Christmas it is harder as you have events on. But when there is nothing on, Bedtime is when it is. That has always helped us out. I find they are usually good and tired for bed anyway as summer we get out a lot more and eat more fruit and vegetables too! Winter and daylight savings end is going to be harder.

  4. MuddledUpMolly 27/02/2019 at 3:45 pm

    There are some good tips here and I wish I had read some of them a month ago or so! Our 2 year old is the one having a few problems getting to sleep at night but we believe this has coincided with her newborn sister arriving and her reluctance to take her day nap. Our son however is a great sleeper and continues to do so now he’s back at school 🙂

  5. dawnblyth 27/02/2019 at 11:31 am

    I know if my boys don’t get the sleep they need they are very cranky the following day/s. Getting them into bed and sleeping is an integral part of our night time routine.

  6. Jen_Wiig 13/02/2019 at 1:02 pm

    Because we do a training week before school starts i find by the tike we actually into school again the boys have adjusted back to normality pretty well. What i do struggle with is the vaeying bedtimes due to ages and status of child.. Eg my eldest wants to go bed later because hes older which is fair enough but hes horrendous when doesnt sleep long enough and therefore needs ro go to bed at same time as his younger brother by 2 years…
    What i jave found too and i think helps?? Is i dont actually chamge the day to day sruff too much over holidays… Yes they can go to bed later but its usually only half an hour more… Just because they arejt at school doesnt mean they dont need a decent sleep… Esp because we are usually doing stuff during day we are buggered at the end of it all.

  7. Shorrty4life1 13/02/2019 at 12:58 pm

    I myself like the slow down at night thing. We in the school holidays just did so much during the day and at night like beach walks swimming etc that they were still going at like 10.30 at night. They have got back into routine thank goodness. When they get told it’s bedtime there’s no arguments. They are usually pretty tired from school at the moment also with the start of the year it’s all alot to take in for them.

  8. Mands1980 12/02/2019 at 12:14 pm

    I think the kids are only just getting used to school now and getting into bed a bit earlier. I have found them to be extremely tired with this hot weather. We tried to start getting them into bed a couple of weeks before school went back it was hard when they just want to be outside. It was the night time routine of reading a book and then bed which is great.

  9. Bevik1971 06/02/2019 at 4:10 pm

    We have tried to keep our daughters bedtime routine as similar as possible to the school one, she has had a few later nights, but pretty much stayed the same. This is partly due to not going away over Christmas this year and also I had a total hip replacement so has restricted us for travel etc.

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