As well as fun activities and excitement, the school holidays also present opportunities to relax, take it easy and perhaps even catch up on some sleep. However, staying up past bedtime and sleeping in late the next morning can be quite disruptive to your child’s sleeping pattern – not to mention the routine that you’ve worked so hard all term to achieve. Common factors such as light nights, sleepovers with friends, trips and holidays plus general excitement about missing school can all take their toll – often making the transition harder once the time comes to snap back into ‘school mode’ in September.
Here are 5 helpful suggestions we’ve found which could help your child stick to a sleep routine during their school holidays. They’ve certainly worked for us!
1. Have a ‘quiet time’ before bedtime
Ensure your child has a wind-down period or ‘quiet time’ which lasts for at least an hour, to give them enough time to calm down naturally. Make sure to eliminate any distractions such as iPads, tablets, TV, games or other technology – instead opt for activities such as colouring in, jigsaws or toys without flashing lights or bright screens. The most effective time to start this is exactly one hour before their bedtime, so that it overlaps into their usual bedtime routine of teeth brushing and story time etc.
2. Keep your child’s room as dark as possible
The early morning sunshine can be enough to wake some children, especially in the summer holidays when we experience longer days and lighter nights. Thicker curtains or blackout blinds are excellent way of making sure your child gets enough sleep. An additional bonus of these is the fact that they block heat from the sun getting into the bedroom – meaning there’s less chance of your child getting hot and bothered or overheating in the night.
3. ‘Rise and shine’ at a similar time
Nobody likes to set an alarm, especially during the holidays. Despite this, it really is best to try get your child up at a similar time every day – even at weekends. This will strengthen their body clock and help them get used to the light nights of summer, as well as ensuring they have plenty of energy for all the fun, games and activities that the school holidays bring. Your child’s wake up time doesn’t necessarily have to be the exact same as their term-time one – consistency is what matters here.
4. Incorporate familiar aspects in unfamiliar environments
Whether your child is trying to get to sleep during a camping trip, on holiday abroad or even just at a sleepover at their friends’ house, unfamiliar environments often make it difficult for children to settle at night. To make this easier, bring familiar everyday objects that your child will recognise and associate with their own bedroom, or their usual bedtime routine. This could be anything from their favourite toy, pyjamas, or even their duvet cover from home.
5. Ease back into the school routine gradually
Parents can feel pressure to snap back into old habits as soon as September begins to approach. However, it is best to do so gradually. If your routine has completely broken down during the school holidays, as it often does, implementing a step-by-step plan of action is by far the most effective way of restoring it. If you slowly bring bedtime closer, say by a few extra minutes each night, you should be back to normal by the time school starts without your child noticing much of a disturbance.
While sticking to a strict sleep routine during the school holidays is ideal, we understand that it isn’t always realistic. Activities and days out during the school holidays are often unplanned and spontaneous, so it is difficult to get bedtime perfect every single time. As long as your child is heathy and happy and is getting their recommended hours of sleep per night, there’s no need to worry too much.
Regular healthy sleep is one of the most important factors in supporting a child’s physical and mental development. Each mattress in the JAY-BE® Toddler and Simply Kids range has its own distinct function, allowing parents to select the perfect one to meet their child’s specific needs. For more details please see: jaybe.com