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  • Faigy Green

Staying on Track Over the Summer

The summer’s almost here, and I don’t know about you, but I have a feeling this is going to be the best summer ever!


I say that because last summer... well, I guess it depends on how you were affected by the

pandemic, but I’m willing to bet that most of us are pretty much in agreement that last summer was.... shall I say just different?!


Now that we’re getting back to a place where kids will (hopefully) be able to get outdoors and do all of those fabulous summer things, I feel like we’re all going to appreciate the summer so much more.


And because we’re all going to be so ecstatic about being able to travel, get together, and

do all the stuff that we couldn’t do last summer, we’re probably going to be a bit less diligent

about things like our kids’ bedtimes.


Which, hey, I get it. I’m probably going to throw some rules out the window too, and try to

make sure my family has an amazing summer to make up for some of the fun summer related things we missed.


But a few days and nights of too much excitement and too little sleep can leave your kids in

a state where they’re incapable of enjoying themselves no matter what they’re doing. With

that in mind, I’ve put together a few tips to help you and your family enjoy this much-needed

break while still keeping their sleep habits in check.


1) Blackout Blinds


In many parts of the world, the onset of summer means longer days, which means that the sun might not go down until after your little one’s bedtime. As much as we’ve all gotten accustomed to artificial light, the sun is still the primary influencer of our circadian rhythm, and it’s harder to fall asleep while it’s light out.


The simple solution to this is to keep the sun out of your little one’s bedroom, which sounds

like a no-brainer, right? But when I say it should be dark in there, I mean dark. I’m talking

pitch black. Even a small amount of sunlight seeping through the curtains can dramatically

affect your child’s ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Luckily, there are some simple and low-cost solutions in the form of blackout blinds. If you’re


not familiar with them, you may be envisioning some hideous, cardboard-thickness monstrosity that will completely destroy the beautiful esthetic you’ve designed in your child’s bedroom, but there are a lot of really stylish options available in a whole bunch of colors, and some are even playfully patterned specifically for kids’ bedrooms.

Can’t afford to drop the cash on a new set of blinds? Try taping some black garbage bags

over the windows! It won’t look pretty, but how much does it really matter if they’re not getting any sleep?


2) Outdoor Daytime Activity


We want to avoid sunlight when it’s time for bed, but during the day, getting outdoors

and into the sunshine can work wonders for your little one’s nighttime sleep.

Natural sunlight does a number of cool things for us. It provides vitamin D, which helps regulate our moods, it stimulates cortisol production, which despite its bad rap as the “stress hormone” is actually quite beneficial at the right time and in the right amounts, and it promotes serotonin production as well. Serotonin does two wonderful things for your little ones. It enhances their mood during the day, and at night, the pineal gland converts it to melatonin, which helps them get to sleep. So the more sunlight, especially early-morning sunlight, they can get, the easier they’ll be able to drift off at night. (Just don’t forget the sunscreen!)


3) Consistent Routine


If you know me you may be thinking, “But you always talk about the

importance of consistency and routines! What changes in the summer?” And you would be absolutely right. I can’t overstate the importance of a consistent routine and the role it plays in your child’s sleep habits.


This doesn’t change over the summer break.


Everything else does though, and that’s why I wanted to stress the importance of it here.

Whether you’ve got your eye on exotic travel plans, local daycamp, or going upstate, the days off of school are almost guaranteed to throw some curveballs into the daily routine.


Now, I’m not suggesting that there’s no wiggle room here. A little leniency when it comes to

bedtime is part of the magic of summer and I know nobody wants to deprive their kids of

that. Just keep in mind that it doesn’t take long for problems to build on one another. Too little sleep on night one can lead to overtiredness on night two, which makes it more difficult for your child to get proper sleep through that night, which leads to even more overtiredness the next day, and so on.


If you’re going to make an allowance for a late bedtime, try to balance it out with a few days and nights of regular routine afterwards. That will help prevent things from getting out of control and help ensure that your child’s happy and well-rested to enjoy those magical summer days.


4) Watch What You Eat


Junk food is a bit of a summer tradition. Hot days are so much more enjoyable with frozen treats, and backyard BBQs, preparing sandwiches for the beach and throwing in some junk food for the kids on the way home.


But all of those simple carbs can mess with your child’s sleep. High carb intake can increase

the number of night waking's and reduce the amount of deep sleep your child gets, and leave them feeling lethargic and sluggish the next day.


Seeing how they’re likely to be in and out of the house, and breakfast and lunch might not be as easy to schedule as they would be during the school year, it’s a good idea to leave some healthy snack selections out on the table. Cut up some fruit, prepare some sandwiches and cut them into quarters, dump some healthy crackers into a bowl, and let your kids grab them as they please.


As long as they’re getting the majority of their calories from a healthy source, a few popsicles and some candy shouldn’t have too much of a detrimental effect.


5) Get Ready for School Early


Forgive me for bringing it up before summer even really gets started, but you’ll want to keep the inevitable return to school in the back of your mind so that you can prepare.

If your child’s gotten used to later bedtimes and sleeping in in the mornings, asking them to snap back into form on the first day of school is going to be a bit of a nightmare.


It’s best to ease them back into their regular schedule, and the best way to do that is gradually over the course of a couple of weeks.


I see the best results from moving bedtime up by 15 minutes every two to three nights. So

if your little one is going to bed about an hour later than they would during the school year,

you’ll want to allow between 8 to 12 days to get them back on track before the first day of

school. That way, they’ll be rested and ready to get back into the standard routine right from

day one. On that note, If you’re planning a trip or vacation, try to avoid scheduling it for the

two weeks right before heading back to school so you can make the necessary adjustments.


There you have it!


Five simple solutions to survive the summer without sacrificing your kids’ sleep schedule. I hope it’s helpful, but more than that, I hope you all have a wonderful, magical couple of months, full of fun, friends, and all the magical experiences you may have missed last year. All the more reason to go out and have twice as much fun this time around.

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