Verbally trying to convince your child that they need to get their sleep is an undeniable challenge. As soon as summer vacation hits, it seems that all the kids want to do is stay up too late and sleep in too long. As a parent with your kids’ best interests at heart, it can be frustrating to watch. Depending on the age of your kids, you may find it best to pick and choose your battles. However, with elementary age kids, it can be easier than you think to find a happy medium that will maintain the excitement of summer without ruining your kids’ sleeping habits.
Agree on a Reasonable Time
With school out, your kids are excited to capitalize on the sudden freedom of their schedule. Forcing them to maintain exactly the schedule they had during the school year is not a give and take solution.
Instead, agree on a time that is just slightly different than the typical bedtime and waking up. This ensures they are still getting proper sleep while allowing them the excitement of a different bedtime.
An alternative option might be to agree on a single sleep-in day. One day a week, it is agreed that – within reason – the kids get to stay up later and sleep in. This provides a similar agreement in which the excitement of the long summer days is taken advantage of while a healthy sleep schedule is being maintained.
Subtly Coax Sleepiness
Going to bed can often be a less than fruitful argument. Fortunately, though, Mother Nature is here to help your point of view along. Certain foods will encourage sleepiness, meaning they can make an ideal nighttime snack.
Cherries and cherry juice are the best way to get your child to feel tired and seek sleep on their own. Cherries are naturally high in melatonin, the hormone our brains produce for sleep.
Be sure to avoid excess sugars, fats, and empty carbs. Things like bananas with high magnesium may also encourage sleep as magnesium relaxes muscles. You might also consider getting your children into the habit of performing a certain bedtime routine which will work to signal their brains that sleep is coming.
For example, an hour before bedtime, they put pajamas on. Screens are off at this point, and you may supply a coloring book or other quiet, seated activity. A half an hour before bed, each child gets a cup of cherry juice. Fifteen minutes before bed, they brush their teeth. This slow lead up to bed will eventually teach their minds, Pavlov-style, to feel sleepy at the end of the routine.
Staying Up Late Credits
If your child wants to stay up late, you may want to consider a chore chart, each chore worth a certain number of additional minutes past bedtime. That way, they will only be able to stay up a short amount of time and will simultaneously be helping around the house.
Doing what’s right for our kids can be a difficult task, particularly when they are fighting against the positive habit of change. The key is compromise. Respect your child’s wishes and decisions – within reason – and they are far more likely to be receptive to your ideas as well. Keep in mind that summer is their vacation, and you wouldn’t want to have a sleep schedule if you went on vacation either. While their health is important, treating your kids like future adults is also critical in their development. Settle at a midway point and you will spend much less of your summer arguing with your kids.