Summer – the long awaited time of year where the days are long and the weather is warm! Now that my kids are school-age, I am realizing how precious these 18 summers are that we have with them. With all of the activities and fun, sleep issues can arise very quickly. The last thing we want is for these precious summers to be filled with overtired and cranky kids. We can help to prevent a frustrating summer by honoring the sleep that our kids need, while also putting into place some simple tips:
Travel like a pro-sleep mama
The key to ensuring great sleep while on vacation is to plan ahead. Ensure that you are traveling with all of your child’s sleep essentials (stuffed animal, favorite blanket, white noise machine). We like to dedicate one bag just for these items so that we are not digging through all of our belongings once we arrive.
You might also plan out your accommodations so that you can help to honor their sleep schedules as best as you can. Our family likes to travel so that we can have a place for us adults (mom and dad) to retreat to after putting the kids to bed. Extended stay hotels, connecting rooms in a hotel, vacation rentals and timeshares provide the exact arrangements we love, even if we do share a room with the kids.
I think it is fairly common knowledge that exercise can help to promote sleep. In summer months this is easy; go to the park, a swimming pool, splash pad or you can even just create an obstacle course in the backyard!
Do know though, that an overactive day may have your child feeling tired more easily than you might expect. Don’t hesitate on a slightly earlier bedtime if you’ve had a busy day.
Did you know though, that exposure to sunlight helps your child sleep better? Sunlight helps to regulate your child’s internal biological clock (their circadian rhythms). Get your child outside between naps and then when you lay them down in a dark room for naps, your child’s natural sleep hormone (melatonin) will naturally be produced.
Don’t forget the nap (at least not too often)
While summers can be packed with vacation, trips to amusement parks and camp, it is important to stick to their schedule as much as you can. Kiddos who still nap really do need that nap to get through the day without becoming overtired. Your afternoons will be a lot happier (trust me) if you keep the nap as part of your plan, as often as you can.
Ensure a sleep conducive environment
Yes the days are longer in summer and that mean that the sun is up longer. This however doesn’t not mean that your child has an ability to stay awake longer. Their internal sleep clocks remain the same and benefit still from an earlier bedtime.
Blackout curtains are a
great (nope – amazing) tool for helping their little bodies to feel like it is dark, even if it is not. We draw our kids curtains before we start bedtime and close curtains in the surrounding rooms to help encourage the sleep hormone (melatonin) to kick in.
Though, if you have an older child, they may let you know that the sun is still up. Therefore, it is not time for bed. Sound familiar? My suggestion is to get your little one used to judging bedtime based off of the time on the clock, rather than the amount of sunshine that’s outside. Bedtime is bedtime. 😉
Remember that flexibility is ok
Summer is the time to have a ton of fun and soak in those years when we have our kids. So sticking to a sleep schedule 100% of the time does not always work, right? Well, that is ok, let me take the pressure off. You don’t have to. Going by the simple thought of 80/20 will help to keep your child well rested and you’ll be able to have fun, too. This rule is simple, follow the schedule as much as you can. Try to keep it to 80% of the time. Then with your 20%, have fun. Skip naps or do a late bedtime. You’ll be able to keep your child out of that overtired state by making up for the lost sleep with a slightly earlier bedtime.
Enjoy your summer! If you can help to keep everyone well rested, then you can help to keep everyone a bit happier.