Now that we’re getting back to a place where kids will (hopefully, fingers crossed) be able to get outdoors and do all of those fabulous summer things, I feel like we’re all going to appreciate the summer break so much more this year. And because we’re all going to be so ecstatic about being able to travel, get together, and do all the stuff that we couldn’t do last summer, we’re probably going to be a bit less diligent about things like our kids’ bedtimes.
Which, hey, I totally get it. I’m probably going to throw some rules out the window too, and try to make sure my family have an amazing summer break to make up for last year.
But a few days and nights of too much excitement and too little sleep can leave your little ones in a state where they’re incapable of enjoying themselves no matter what they’re doing. With that in mind, here are a few tips to help you and your family enjoy this much-needed break while still keeping their sleep habits in check.
In many parts of the world, the onset of summer are longer days, which means that the sun might not go down until after your little one’s bedtime. As much as we’ve all gotten accustomed to artificial light, the sun is still the primary influencer of our circadian rhythm, and it’s harder to fall asleep while it’s light out. The simple solution to this is to keep the sun out of your little one’s bedroom, which sounds like a no-brainer, right? But when I say it should be dark in there, I mean dark. I’m talking pitch black.
Even a small amount of sunlight seeping through the curtains can dramatically affect your child’s ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Luckily, there are some simple and low-cost solutions in the form of blackout blinds. If you’re not familiar with them, you may be envisioning some hideous, cardboard-thickness monstrosity that will completely destroy the beautiful esthetic you’ve designed in your child’s bedroom, but there are a lot of really stylish options available in a whole bunch of colors, and some are even playfully patterned specifically for kids’ bedrooms.
Can’t afford to drop the cash on a new set of blinds? Try taping some black garbage bags over the windows! It won’t look pretty, but how much does the feng shui of your little one’s room matter if they’re not getting any sleep?
OUTDOOR DAYTIME ACTIVITY:
We want to avoid sunlight when it’s time for bed, but during the day, getting outdoors and into the sunshine can work wonders for your little one’s nighttime sleep. Natural sunlight does a number of cool things for us. It provides vitamin D, which helps regulate our moods, it stimulates cortisol production, which despite its bad rap as the “stress hormone” is actually quite beneficial at the right time and in the right amounts, and it promotes serotonin production as well.
Serotonin does two wonderful things for your little ones. It enhances their mood during the day, and at night, the pineal gland converts it to melatonin, which helps them get to sleep. So the more sunlight, especially early-morning sunlight, they can get, the easier they’ll be able to drift off at night. (Please don’t forget the sunscreen!)
I can’t overstate the importance of a consistent routine and the role it plays in your child’s sleep habits. This doesn’t change over the summer break. Everything else does though, and that’s why I wanted to stress the importance of it (yet again!!!) Whether you’ve got your eye on exotic travel plans, local camping trips, or even just staying at home, the days off of school are almost guaranteed to throw some curveballs into the daily routine. Now, I’m not suggesting that there’s no wiggle room here. A little leniency when it comes to bedtime is part of the magic of summer and I know nobody wants to deprive their kids of that. Just keep in mind that it doesn’t take long for problems to build on one another.
Too little sleep on night one can lead to overtiredness on night two, which makes it more difficult for your child to get proper sleep through that night, which leads to even more overtiredness the next day, and so on. If you’re going to make an allowance for a late bedtime, try to balance it out with a few days and nights of regular routine afterwards. That will help prevent things from getting out of control and help ensure that your child’s happy and well-rested to enjoy those magical summer days.
There you have it folks! Some simple solutions to survive the summer without sacrificing your kids’ sleep schedule. I hope they help.
Happy Holidays and Sleep well xx