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Mama Drama: Summer Nights vs. School Mornings

Mama Drama: Summer Nights vs. School Mornings

Dear Mama Drama:

My kids are back in school, but are still on summer time bedtime and wake up schedules. This is causing a lot of stress and crankiness around our house. They can’t get to sleep earlier in the evening and are groggy and slow in the mornings.

We need help!

~Stuck in Summer Mama

Dear Stuck in Summer:

Switching sleeping and waking schedules can be a challenge when the weather and long evenings still tell our bodies it is summer – which of course it is. 🙂 Rest assured you are not the only family struggling with this issue.

Talk with your kids about how things are going with this transition to get them on board and hear their perspective. Let them know how you would like the routine to work and then work together to make a plan that everyone can live with. Here are some ideas to try.

Shift the whole evening schedule a bit earlier if you can – just the ending parts if you can’t do the whole thing. Begin with starting dinner, baths, stories, etc., about 10 minutes earlier than you have been all summer. After a two or three days of adjusting, shift it another 10 minutes. Continue this process until your schedule fits with the times you need your kids to be getting to bed. (Remember children need 10-12 hours of sleep and teens need at least 9.)

Examine your kids’ activities before bedtime. Are they running around outside, playing video games, wrestling, watching TV, listening to loud music? These activities are stimulating to the brain and make it more difficult to go to sleep. Create calming routines that slow the evening down and allow sleep to come more easily. Read aloud together (even older kids often still enjoy this if you find some interesting age appropriate books), read independently, create a gentle yoga practice focused on calming poses, or spend some time snuggled up talking together.

Create a relaxing environment. Do whatever calming activity you decide upon in a room with the lights dimmed or candles lit, use soothing scents such as lavender or rose, and have the room quiet or play classical adagios or other tranquil music.

Use deep pressure. Deep pressure helps to calm the nervous system and helps kids settle into sleep. You can give back rubs, roll a bolster over your child while they lay on their stomachs on the floor, or roll them up tightly in a blanket like a hot dog – letting them squirm their way out gives more pressure, but can be stimulating if they get too silly.

In their rooms as they got to sleep play comforting music, use room darkening shades or eye pillows to give the illusion that the sun has gone down, and use those calming scents again. Meditation cds are also wonderful supports in helping kids learn to settle themselves independently.  More ideas for kids who struggle to cooperate with going to bed can be found in my column Getting the Babes to Bed.

Make a wake up plan that is stimulating and engaging. Have them set alarms if waking up to a loud noise will make them more alert. Use stimulating scents such as peppermint or orange to energize them. Open all the shades and let the sunshine in. Vigorous rubbing of arms and legs, cold drinks, and a few minutes of jumping around or stretching can also get their brains and bodies moving.

What are your tried and true back to school adjustment secrets?

Motherhood is an amazing journey that can have its share of Mama Drama. The Mama Drama column consists of everyday mothering questions from readers and answers providing strategies to tackle these daily challenges. Send your questions and challenges to [email protected], and your Mama Drama could be the next week column! Lisa is also available for private consultations. All emails and identifying information will remain confidential.

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  1. We’re so there right now. Of course, they get up early on the weekends and we can’t drag them out of bed for school. Murphy’s Law but great tips!

    • Isn’t that always the case. What is it about weekend mornings that is so energizing for little people?!
      Maybe it’s the unconscious knowledge that they will get lots and lots of free time to play. 🙂

  2. I’m going to try the deep massage next week (no sense testing it out on a 3-day weekend!)

    Thanks for the tips — very timely!

    • I hope it helps, Lori. My boys both love it! Every night they ask for squishes. 🙂

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