Something happens to my kids’ bedtime over the summer: it drifts. What was once a rock-solid schedule becomes instead a moving target. Friends are visiting? Okay, stay up late to enjoy their company. A family reunion happening? Parents are too busy catching up with long lost relatives to notice that bedtime has come and gone. A camping trip? Who goes to bed on time when you’re camping? A chance to see fireflies or look at the stars? Bedtime doesn’t compare.
Bedtime drifts in the other direction as well. After a long day of swimming, my youngest has been known to fall sound asleep on the couch after dinner, and barely twitch a muscle as we carry her up to bed. A late bedtime one night begets an early collapse the next, and so the cycle goes until… it’s time for school!
About a week before school starts, we snap to attention. Sleeping late is no longer an option, and indeed regular wake-up time needs to be early (6:15 a.m. in our case) in order to catch the school bus. (Groan.) Time to reinstate that bedtime routine.
A well-oiled bedtime routine is a good family habit that pays off in three important ways:
All of this means happier and better-rested parents as well.
How the bedtime routine is structured doesn’t really matter. You can go for the traditional dinner, bath, books and bed approach, or find some other formula that works. The important thing is to create a good routine and then stick with it.
At the end of long school and work days, the bedtime routine is something to fall back on. No discussion is needed: everyone in the family knows what to do and when to do it. In those last moments of consciousness, peaceful cuddles and stories reign. Just the send-off kids need so as to awake gladly to another day.
As the final days of summer draw near, I have felt a real sense of urgency to cull through closets, drawers, toy chests—basically every nook and cranny of our home—in order to get a better handle on what we have (and where it should go!) before t... read more
One of the most difficult aspects of the transition from summer vacation to the school year is homework. Having grown accustomed to plentiful free playtime, kids naturally rebel at the thought of having to do homework during their scant afte... read more