That time of year is approaching as we say "cheerio" to another summer of fun and sun and prepare for school starting!
This may be the first term your child is attending nursery or school and it is such an exciting milestone. It may be met with some anxiety from you or your child so take time to acknowledge that. It is normal and okay.
You may be an old hand at this and vaguely know what to expect. Either way after summer holidays of late nights, lazy mornings and routine out of sync you may want to start getting back into the swing of things before that alarm bell rings on day one just so you are all prepared.
Here are my top tips for getting back into the 9-5 groove….or should I say 7-7 groove….?! Be positive and excited, this is going to be fun!
1. Have a calendar you can mark off a week before the big day arrives so your can see how many more “sleeps” it is!
2. If this is your child’s first day at school or nursery you may have already attended a settle in day at the school nursery so your child is familiar with the premises but if not it is definitely worth taking a few trips to the area to explore it. Look at the roads and parks around the school. Check out parking if you will be driving and point out the buildings and the door that your child will be entering and where you will be picking them up from. Explain there will be a lot of children and adults around.
3. This goes in hand with doing a few practice trips! The first day is going to be busy. There will be a lot of traffic on the roads and a lot of parents all doing the first day drop off armed with tissues and cameras at the ready! So it is always a good idea to do a test school run drive a couple times over. Ideally leave at the time you will need to once this is happening for real! Check different routes for short cuts and add on another 15 minutes or so to allow for rush hour traffic.
4. Is your child eating school lunches or packed lunches? If they are taking packed plan the meals a week before and do that shopping! Have it all ready and made the night before so you are not rushing around in the morning brushing teeth and swinging sandwiches from your ankles at the same time! Check out the Original Yum Box or the Bento Box for lunch box containers with separate compartments that are great for an array of lunch foods!
5. Have the uniform/clothes prepared the night before. If uniform is needed make sure it is all labelled and you child is familiar with it. My favourite label companies are Petit Fernand for stick and iron on labels. They have everything from clothes to lunch box labels and they can go in the wash a 100 times over, mine have yet to come off! Alternatively if you like to have woven labels this is the website for you!
6. Those white shirt collars can be a bit uncomfortable to start with so you may like to have your child practice wearing it a few times before the first official morning!
7. Have a visual morning routine chart so your child can see what is expected and has to be done rather then you having to tell them what to do all the time. Children are constantly told what to do throughout the day and by having their own chart will help them take control of what they need to do and they are responsible for themselves! Include getting up/getting dressed/ breakfast/ brushing teeth & hair/shoes on/ lunch in bag/out the door!
The Bedtime Routine
1. The week before that alarm clock is set to go off you may need to start putting some bedtime rituals back into place. You may need to start bringing bedtime earlier, even if your child does not fall asleep at this time it is great for them to be in their bedroom, all washed and in pyjamas and having some calm quite time. Perhaps they may like to look at books or play with the Lego or do some colouring books. That is absolute fine. This is all part of the wind own before sleep.
2. A visual bedtime routine chart can also work wonders as much as for the morning. Include, bath, pyjamas, teeth and hair brushing / toilet/ story and sleep in bed. These motions should only take 30 minutes max from the start of bath to lights out.
3. Have the lights dimmed right down and they may even like to listen to a meditation from YouTube or a Podcast. This is a great way to help them relax and focus on being calm at bedtime.
4. Ensure the TV is off and no high energy activities are all done a good 1.5-2 hours before bedtime.
5. Get into a rhythm of having dinner a little earlier than it may currently has been over the summer. This will then bring on bath time a little earlier as well.
Remember to talk to everyone in your home about expectations and what the routine plans are going to be in the run up to school starting back. This way everyone knows what is coming and there are no surprises! Listen to the family and validate everyone’s thoughts and feelings about return to/starting school/nursery.
As always, peaceful nights to you all,
Your Paediatric Sleep Consultant
(Disclaimer… Some of the links in this blog are affiliate links. Should you purchase from them I will earn a few pennies from the sale at no extra cost to you!)