If you're a current parent, you are probably in one of two camps when it comes to getting kids back to school.
Some may already have the wine on hold, in anticipation of a move towards so-called normalcy which is baffled after six months of juggling homeschooling with work from home.
Others will experience noticeable anxiety and stress, nervous about the pervasive threat of Covid-19, and concerned about whether children are able to realistically follow the rules of social distancing.
In any case, the thought of getting them back into a “normal” routine before March is undoubtedly daunting as the kids haven't been around since March.
A 2017 study of 2,000 parents found that children can take more than a week to return to school after a summer break – and this is likely to increase this year due to the longer break.
According to psychologist Hope Bastine, getting your kids' sleep routine back on track can be an influential role in encouraging a positive transition to school and alleviating the worries of both your own and your son or daughter.
Here Hope, the sleep expert at SIMBA, shows the steps you can take before September 2nd.
With the children out of school since March, the thought of getting them back into a “normal” routine before returning to school is undoubtedly daunting. Pictured: archive image
Now start the school day shift
Like the turtle and the hare, slowly and steadily winning the race. Sudden and rapid changes are not the answer here.
Take two weeks to make gradual bedtime adjustments and wake up.
Start building in things associated with a daily routine, whether it's packing a bag or laying out clothes for the next day, preparing lunch for the next day, bathing, or having breakfast together before you go attract.
Gradually turn down the technology
The internet has been a great educational platform and source of entertainment about lockdown, but when we get back into semester time it will be time to gently tighten the boundaries again.
The blue light emitted by electronic screens can reprogram the brain to delay the onset of sleep.
If a mobile device is being used as an alarm clock, invest in a traditional device for your child instead to reduce exposure to blue light. Pictured: archive image
From now on you can gradually reduce the time spent on cell phones, tablets or computers before bed. Ideally, aim for longer but at least an hour before bed without technology.
If a mobile device is used as an alarm clock, invest in a traditional device for your child instead.
To give your child a subtle routine, spend this time with them and give them your undivided attention.
Read with them or brew a hot drink like chamomile tea or a small cup of warm milk. It will help you feel loved and safe.
A healthy breakfast means a healthy night's sleep
Having a healthy and nutritious breakfast is essential to getting your kids up and running. Without this, your child can become increasingly tired, restless and irritable over the course of the school day.
Set a "light off" time
Once they get back to school it may sound archaic, but setting a strict bedtime is incredibly important. This will help your kids set up a timely bedtime process.
If you stick to this routine over time, your child will feel sleepy at a similar time each night.
Soothing things to include in the evening routine include a warm bath, brushing your teeth, and 30 minutes of reading.
A 2017 study found that after the school holidays, 58 percent of children are grumpier and 22 percent are more likely to have problems with teachers due to the dramatic change in their routine.
A healthy, consistent breakfast will help counter this. Choose the sugary foods, balance is important.
If you have the time, try scrambling eggs on whole wheat toast, porridge, or ground banana with a spoonful of honey in Greek yogurt.
If, like many of us, you're more pressed for time, stock your closets with high-fiber cereal options. Research has shown that this healthy, fibrous breakfast helps your children's production of the sleep hormone melatonin later in the evening. The earlier they eat in the morning, the better.
It may seem like a chore, but more time to prepare in the morning means more time for you in the evening when you're sound asleep.
To be present
When your children go back to school, tears and tantrums may arise when they respond to the change in their parents being less available.
They spent a lot of time together. You can help alleviate this by really being there with them immediately before and after school so that they can feel safe.
Give them your full attention, even if it's just a minute, and you will see the rewards. Even if the amount of time is lost together, they will enjoy it as quality time.
Limit the fear that comes with going back to school
It can be difficult to deal with your children's emotions associated with starting school.
When your child falls asleep, their body switches from their active sympathetic nervous system to the quiet parasympathetic nervous system.
However, when they're worried, the sympathetic nervous system doesn't shut down and keep them awake. Tackle the stress by fueling them with a healthy snack for school days, and make sure they have an environment with limited distractions to do their homework.
When your children go back to school, tears and fits of anger may arise when they respond to the change in their parents being less available. Give them your full attention, even if it's just a minute, and you will see the rewards. Pictured: archive image
As the time required for homework increases, you should take a 10-minute break between study blocks.
Your child's teachers should be able to isolate how long the study should take each night. During this break, books go down, put the kettle on, talk to them and let their thoughts rest.
It will take some getting used to, and if you have teenagers it may take some initial resistance, but once they get used to it it becomes incredibly comfortable for them to know that at some point they can relax and switch off.
Make the dinner count
With the return to school and "back to normal" life, your kids can feel the effects of the reduced quality time we enjoyed during lockdown.
Make mealtime quality family time and a phone-free zone, or take at least an hour to touch the base and connect to an activity like a game night.
Tea or dinner is an essential part of sleep
Try to provide some sleeping pills for your children's dinner. Chicken is the perfect meat option for this because it contains a lot of tryptophan – the building block of our sleep hormone melatonin.
Likewise, the omega-3s in oily fish like mackerel are an excellent stimulant for the release of melatonin. It is also a source of vitamin B6, which plays an essential role in the production of serotonin and melatonin.
In bad weather, try serving nutritious sweet potatoes that are high in B vitamins and high in digestive fiber. This makes them the perfect carbohydrate component for dinner as they slowly release body-repairing energy while you sleep.
Try to keep meals closer to bedtime easier and make sure that all technology is removed during the meal.
Eating is a great conversation starter – you can use this time to address your worries and worries from day one.
Invest in their sleep
Proper sleep support is critical to your child's growth. The right mattress supports your bones, reduces rolling and discomfort, and allows you to sleep peacefully.
I recommend the Simba Hybrid®. The patented Titanium Aerocoil® spring layer offers comfort, support and breathability.
It adapts to your body shape and lets air flow through the mattress. This will keep you cool and well supported so you can sleep undisturbed before school.
Further information can be found at https://simbasleep.com/