We either look forward to it or dread it – the start of school again in the Autumn. A new academic year, everyone is anxious and excited – with such high emotions, how do we get the children to settle back in to a good routine, ready for school? Today’s contributing article is by Dr Jivraj who is member of Kensington Mums and a GP local to the Kensington & Chelsea area, graduated in 2006 from Imperial College and now specialises in training and education as well as contraception and women’s health.
It’s extremely common for sleep issues to develop, even after a very short holiday, and with children who have previously been excellent sleepers!
You may have noticed that your child needs extra help to fall asleep at bedtime or wakes more frequently during the night.
Children pick up new habits very fast, and it’s easy to let the usual term time routine slip a little. Often one or more parent or family members are around, and there are far more exciting events happening! Here are the usual culprits of behavioral changes;
- Having parents or guests staying in the same room as the children during the night.
- Getting used to a later bedtime as a result of days out
- Having the pleasure of your company means that there is a little more assistance at nap or bedtime (feeding to settle or sleep, extra cuddles or rocking to sleep)
*My personal favorite – picking up shushing and cradling my daughter as soon as she makes too much noise in her crib to avoid waking up all the guests sleeping near by!
When looking to resolve a holiday sleep problem or to re-instate term time routines, it is recommended that you start the week before it becomes essential. Resistance is common, so persevere! We all know that well rested children function better at school and tend to settle more easily at night too.
Taking the gradual approach rather than trying to insist they sleep at times they have become un-used to. For example, if your toddler has got used to a 9 pm bedtime, putting him straight to bed at 7 pm is likely to result in a tantrum. A gradual approach means shifting bedtime forward by 15 minutes every few days or so. At the same time, work on re-establishing your usual bedtime routine practices, essential for giving children the right cues for sleep.
If you are tackling other holiday issues at the same time, for example, wanting to be rocked to sleep or needing a parent in the room, you may want to get sleep times as close to normal before you start addressing these.
Above all else, consistency is the most important aspect in getting ready for term time. When children know what to expect and are given dependable cues, they tend to settle more easily, making the whole experience less stressful for the whole family. Depending upon the ages of the children – they may all have slightly different routines, but try to keep the basics the same for all them – for example, bath, brushing their teeth, preparing bags and clothes for the next day and story time. Having a set routine like this will provide a strong sense of continuity and help them wind down.
We all know that we need to connect with our children every day, and when we are focusing on moving them through the daily schedule – its easy to miss out on those opportunities, so don’t forget to make it fun for all of you, and enjoy those quiet moments and cuddles in between.
And with this, we are back to early wake up calls. Happy Back to School to all Kensington Mums!