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Getting school-aged children into a good sleep routine, particularly after school holidays can be challenging.
When kids have been used to staying up late and taking their time in the mornings, the school day routine comes as a bit of a shock.
If school mornings have become a time of foot dragging in your home, fear not, according to sleep expert, Cheryl Fingleson aka The Sleep Coach, travel and holiday ‘hangovers’ can be nipped in the bud quite quickly with a simple routine.
The key to any routine success is commitment. Cheryl says: “Ensure that the step-by-step routine is consistent. Children need to know what is coming next.”
“If kids are young then draw a visual routine guide or put up a simple written chart for kids that can read.”
Keen to try it out? You can see Cheryl’s step-by-step after-school routine below.
Cheryl Fingleson, The Sleep Coach, shares her steps for a stress-free bedtime routine.
1. Afternoon tea
“Give your kids a healthy afternoon tea,” advise Cheryl. This will set them up well for the tasks in the evening ahead.
2. Outdoor play releases melatonin
Melatonin is a hormone which regulates wakefulness. A little bit of play outside after school can help your little one when it come to bedtime.
“Encourage outside play so that kids can get some natural melatonin and get rid of that last bit of energy,” advises Cheryl.
Getting class homework out of the way in the evening saves the morning scramble.
4. No TV or screens 30-60 minutes before bed time
Stimulation from screens and devices can be detrimental to your child winding down and getting a good night’s rest.
Cheryl says: “If you want your child to watch TV or the iPad, a good time is before dinner (after they play outside) or between dinner and bath time.”
“Younger children should eat between 5pm and 5.30pm if possible,” says Cheryl. “Older children and kids being collected later from daycare can eat around 6.30pm.”
6. Bath or shower
A wash and clean pyjamas are a signal that the evening is drawing to a close.
Commitment to a bedtime routine reaps great benefits for the school term.
7. Quiet play
Screen-free activities like, puzzles, quiet games, drawing, colouring books are a less stimulating way to end the evening.
8. Brush teeth, drink water and go to the toilet before going into the bedroom for bed time
“Anything that can be requested at bed time needs to be done before entering the bedroom,” says Cheryl.
9. Lights out
“If your child is scared of the dark, a night light is fine as long as it is dull,” Cheryl says, then it’s time for the last step of the evening.
“Go into the bedroom and read one bed time story. Kiss goodnight.”
Good luck, here’s hoping for a good night’s sleep for everyone!