Vacations are meant to be fun; they provide relief from the monotonous routine of everyday life. But, as it happens with all good things, vacations too come to an end, and it’s time for both parents and children to get back to the seemingly busy and monotonous old schedule. However, most parents find that, of all things, getting their child back to regular bedtime routine is a Herculean task. Here are some tips to help you successfully accomplish this apparently difficult mission.
Prepare in advance
Begin re-setting the bedtime routine of your child at least a week before the school re-opens. Educate her about the importance of sleep and its role in maintaining the overall well-being. Make her aware of the ill effects of going to bed late like decreased energy level in the morning. An article published on the website of NHS Choices titled, ‘How much sleep do kids need?’ says that children aged 5 years should get at least 11 hours of night time sleep. This time should be decreased by 15 minutes every year until the child is 13 years old. A regular sleep–wake cycle will keep your child calm by alleviating the anxiety and stress she experiences in the morning while getting ready for school.
Encourage your child to be active
Watching TV, playing video games or other such sedentary activities adversely affect a child’s sleep pattern. So, when your child comes back from school, involve him in activities like unstructured play with friends, sports, etc. This would serve two purposes—first, it would give him an opportunity to release the stress accumulated during school hours, and second, tire him out, which will aid in falling asleep. You can also take him to a nearby park for a walk if he doesn’t like playing at home.
Say ‘No’ to junk food and eating late in the evening/night
It is usual for your child to feel hungry after a busy and tiring day at school. While she can’t resist gorging on junk food like French fries after coming back home, it is your duty to provide alternatives. Avoid buying junk food, and instead prepare a bowl of boiled legumes to suit her taste buds. Not only would this satiate her hunger, but also provide her with the much-needed energy to involve herself in physical activities. Also, for dinner, prepare food that is easily digestible.
Create a sleep-friendly environment
It is always a good idea to remove gadgets with screens from your child’s room. Be a role model for your child by putting into practice what you preach. Switch off the TV, Wi-Fi, mobile data connection, etc., to ensure that dinner time is tech-free. This would give the family members a chance to engage in conversations, where all the family members can take turns to share the day’s happenings. Once dinner is over, relax for some time and then go to sleep. It will take some time for everyone in the family to get used to tech-free time. But if you explain the reason behind your decision, your child will understand and cooperate. When your child goes to sleep, ensure that his room is dark to help him fall asleep easily. To wake him up in the morning, use an alarm clock instead of setting the alarm on the mobile phone.
Children adapt to change readily and easily when it is implemented in a planned and gradual manner. So, go ahead and follow these tips to ease your child back into his regular school time routine.
Tharani Ratnam specialises in interactive storytelling sessions for children.