Summertime…and the living is easy…
Really? For who?
This beautiful song first appears in the opera Porgi and Bess as the character Clara is trying to coax her baby to sleep. It is a sweet favorite of mine and a wonderful lullaby.
Now that summer is winding up and coming to a close it is a good time to coax our babies, young children and ourselves back into a better routine and possibly an earlier bedtime. Not only children benefit from a routine that offers a calming ritual and a reasonable bedtime.
Summer is very stimulating. The earth tilts us into longer days, more light and higher heat. Some of us find this invigorating and some of us experience more exhaustion. It is important to determine where you are on this spectrum and start to observe as well has honor where your child is as well.
This is the time of year I get the most calls for sleep support. Family vacations are done and most families have schedule shifted to a later bedtime. However, not all children shift to a later wake up and many end up a bit sleep deprived. Regardless of whether you wake up later and/or add a nap, research has shown that schedule shifting alone leaves us sleep deprived.
Summer Sleep Disruptions Include
- more light
- more heat
- more travel
- more visits from family members
- more stimulation and fun
A few of these can find you with less regulated sleep. If you had a blast and did all of it this summer, it is time to reel it in and get back on track!
To get back on your routine I recommend the following…
- Start to slow down the pace in the afternoons and push bedtime up by 15 minutes each week until you get your child in bed and asleep by 7:30 or 8:00 p.m. When school starts you will want to move that time up to 7:00 and no later than 7:30.
- Increase your exposure to light in the early morning and lower the light and stimulation in the early evenings.
- If your child is very young get back on the dependable and predictable routine of the day around meals, sleep, and the balance between autonomous play and more connected parent/child time (what Magda Gerber called “Wants Nothing Quality Time”.)
Start now…and be prepared for push back and resistance…IE…. TEARS!
- Remember to talk to your child and prepare him/her for a change. Talk about how much fun you had this summer and recall the highlights of your journeys and visits.
- Then state clearly and simply that you will be making changes.
- Tell your child what the changes will be. Be specific!
- Then SHOW your child. Use any opportunity to involve the child in this process. Here again BE SPECIFIC!
- Then move forward and stick with it until sleep is back in your charge.
If your child had a great routine before summer make sure to remind him that THIS is where you are headed. Reassure him with confidence in his capabilities and remind him exactly what success looked and felt like.