Kids at Rest and Play: Maintaining a Healthy Summer Bedtime Routine
For most school-age kids, summer vacation is synonymous with personal liberty and all those cool things they don’t get to do during the school year, like staying up late and getting up when they want. It sounds great and kids look forward to it for months, but it’s not great when it comes to getting the sleep they need. It may be summertime, but the need for a full night’s restful sleep is as important when school’s out as it is between September and June. That’s why it’s so important to establish a regular sleep routine and stick to it throughout the summer – sleep is essential to a child’s physical and mental development and to strengthening the immune system. And it’s one important way to ensure your kids enjoy a fantastic summer.
Set a regular bedtime
Good sleep is essential to good health, but as a parent, you may want to show a little leeway as far as bedtime goes. If your child is used to hitting the sack by 9 or 9:30 during the school year, consider extending bedtime to 10 or 10:30, depending on his age and maturity level. Be realistic and take into consideration your child’s tendencies. If he tends to get a little cranky during the day, it may well mean he’s not getting enough sleep, so bedtime may need to be pushed up a bit. Bear in mind that your kid worked hard in school and deserves some fun when school’s out. A kid whose summer bedtime is the same as it was on school nights may think he’s being punished or singled out for some reason. Whatever bedtime you do settle on, make sure to stick to it – consistency’s the key.
Beware of being too lenient
Remember that children need 9 to 11 hours of sleep every night. A regular bedtime helps make certain they get those hours, so avoid letting a healthy sleep routine slip during the summer. It’s easy to let it slide, especially if you’re having to deal with an angry and stubborn youth who persistently argues on behalf of his right to stay up late. Prioritizing a sleep routine is about more than ensuring a good night’s sleep. It also has to do with discipline, good health, obedience, and learning how to take good care of oneself. If your kids see you observing good sleep habits and taking it seriously, they’re far more likely to follow suit.
Let kids be kids
Sleep aside, summer is still a time for kids to be kids, to play, explore and imagine, to make new friends and have new experiences. One of the best ways to make sure your child sticks to his prescribed bedtime is to let him get plenty of physical activity. Encourage swimming, playing sports, hiking, camping and fishing so that he’s good and worn out, fully ready for bed when bedtime comes around. To that end, be certain your children don’t sit in a darkened room for hours playing video games. That can make it hard for them to get to sleep at night and prevents them getting the exercise they need, so put away the gaming controller when they should be outside romping and burning off all that stored-up energy.
Move out the technology
Distractions like video games, smartphones, handheld devices and computer and television screens can make it very hard for kids to get the sleep they need. Try turning your child’s bedroom into a screen-free zone so all that clutter and soft blue light don’t inhibit sleep.
Kids can have fun and follow a healthy and consistent routine during the summer months. If you arrange it all just right, the two objectives can be mutually supportive. Make sure a good sleep routine is a priority this summer, so it becomes a year-round habit.
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