Back to School you Sleepyhead!

Joshua's first day of school
For the first time in many years, the fact that school is in session doesn't just mean that me and my kids carry on like usual (it's a summer routine 365 days a year for us). My oldest, Joshua, started school for the first time ever -- kindergarten-- and now I've entered a whole new phase of parenting. It's exciting but kind of scary. And for him, it's also really tiring.

I wrote a while ago about how sleep can get all mucked up with changing seasons. Well, the same thing can happen when
school starts (or any other big activities). Even if your child is used to a lot of activities, starting something that is new and different can be really exhausting at first. Maybe you remember how tiring it was starting each year of school, or if not that, maybe you remember how tiring it is starting a new job. It's exhausting trying to take everything in, even if you are enjoying yourself. 

To make my point stick (and to give you a totally embarrassing story), I'll tell you what I remember about my first few days of college. I was at a big university and I had 18 credits of pure science and while I liked the classes, I was totally overwhelmed. I was overwhelmed with the work load and I was overwhelmed with the large campus and all the people and well, all the change. I still remember where I ate lunch on my 2 or 3rd day at school. In a bathroom stall. Yep. A bathroom stall. I sat there in tears all overwhelmed and gobbled up my lunch. I couldn't take all the chaos of campus anymore and I didn't know where else to go for peace (and I was embarrassed to be crying!) so that's where I spent my lunch time. Growing up and facing new things can be scary and hard!

How does sleep play into all of this?

Getting a good amount of sleep can help your child all round with school. It'll help mentally, physically and emotionally (note: I was not getting enough sleep in college!). The first couple weeks of school many children will benefit from an earlier bedtime. It may be just 15 minutes earlier, but it'll help. You'll have to evaluate how your child is doing and how he has done with early bedtimes in the past as you adjust it. My guess is it will be somewhere between 15-45 minutes early for a few days to a few weeks (some may even need it all school year long).

Before school even starts (as in at least a couple weeks before) it's also a good idea to make sure your child is going to sleep early if bedtime has crept to a later hour. You'll also want to make sure to be consistent with the bedtime hour--even on weekends. Most likely bedtime will be between 7-8 for school-age children.  If you have to wake your child up in the morning, bedtime should probably be slowly moved a bit earlier (by 15 minutes every few days). A well rested child will wake up on his own at a reasonable (usually earlyish) hour. An alarm clock is useful so you don't sleep in on the off day or so your child knows when he's allowed to get up, but your child shouldn't have to use this to wake up each day.

If you're having issues with going to bed at night, you'll find some bedtime tips here.

Have any of you had to adjust your child's sleep when school starts? Any tips of your own you'd like to share?


  1. Mr. Noah has been going to school for almost a month and most of the time he wakes up before the alarm goes off. However, he is still grumpy and emotional after school. Could be because school is so dang long? almost 7 hours.

    1. JoLuba,
      Most likely the grumpiness is related to going to school. Joshua is only there for three hours and he's emotional, so I bet 7 hours would definitely make Noah emotional :) I hope he gets used to it soon! I've also heard that kindergarten is a common time that kids start to think they are a bit better than their younger siblings and parents and sometimes don't treat them as well for that reason. So that might be part of it too (if he's having that issue).


  2. What a funny and sad story. But remember, Liz Lemon's (30 rock) favorite place to eat her lunch is in a bathroom stall! :)