I'm looking forward to it but not too much either. Back to school is a time of contrasting emotions, of reunions, of new things and of lots of things to do. For children too, this intense time can be a source of stress, restless nights and fatigue. Unless you prepare for it. With a few weeks, a few sleeps or a few hours to go before the big day, here's how to give them a smooth transition.
Keep the same rhythm in summer. Or almost.
No, we're not talking about making them sit in a chair for 6 to 7 hours a day to make them feel like they're in school. We're talking about their sleep. And the smaller the children are, the longer their nights and naps have to be. You need 11 to 14 hours of sleep between 1 and 2 years old, 10 to 13 hours between 3 and 5 years old and 9 to 12 hours between 6 and 12 years old for them to wake up in good shape.
In summer, it's hard to resist the call of long evenings and late mornings. But keeping a sleep rhythm close to the one they will need all year round will help them return from their holidays without any fatigue in their luggage, because sleeping well is also a question of routine. Getting up and going to bed at the same time, almost every day, is still the best way to get to sleep without difficulty.
There is nothing to prevent you from taking advantage of the summer season by giving them more freedom than during the rest of the year. We will simply make sure to keep some of the structure we have put in place on a daily basis. For example, we continue to wish the screens a good night from 6pm, but we let the children go to bed a little later, like the sun.
Or resume the right rhythm in small steps.
If we have slowly but surely let the children stay up later and later, there is still time to get back into the right rhythm at the end of the summer, without rushing. Abruptly bringing bedtime forward is not ideal because their bodies are no longer used to falling asleep early. Waiting can be a source of frustration and delay their sleep even more.
It is therefore better to take advantage of the two weeks before school starts to go to bed 15 minutes earlier, and to get up 15 minutes earlier, no more. Then 15 minutes earlier after 3 or 4 days, and so on, until you find your desired bedtime and wake-up time.
Celebrate the good things about going back to school.
The last few days of vacation are devoted to the pleasures of going back to school with them (yes, it exists). Get all their friends together to have fun away from the schoolyard, get them involved in choosing their new school supplies, let them go back to their favourite swimming or drawing class a few days early... It's finally time to get back to everything they were sad to leave behind in July.
The idea? To ease their apprehensions, to reassure them as the big day approaches, all the more important as stress influences the quality of sleep. If it's not always easy to sleep well on the eve of the start of the new school year, these beautiful moments will also help them to appreciate it.
Bring a little novelty to their room
After the peace and quiet of summer, the start of the new school year brings its share of new things. New class, new subjects, new habits... To take advantage of the spirit of change that is so intense at this time of year, why not offer to give their room a new look?
There's no need to redo everything: a little sorting and tidying, moving some furniture around to reorganise the space, a little paint if you feel like it (and a little time), or new sheets on the bed are enough to change the atmosphere of the room, to let the children reappropriate the space and to make them want to go in not too late every night.
Create a ritual to get to sleep
Teething, a story and a kiss? Or rather the bath, the story of the day, and the blanket? Whatever the steps leading up to bedtime, it's important to keep the same order every night. The routine thus created reassures children. It also tells the body that it's time to go to sleep.
Because we always fall asleep better in a quiet environment, we prefer soothing activities to screens and hectic games. There will always be time to return to them the next day.
And after school starts, don't forget the holidays.
A weekend brunch, a family bike ride on Wednesday afternoon... These moments will help them gently get back into the rhythm of the school year, without focusing their attention on school.
What children enjoy most during the holidays is spending time with their families. For parents, too, back-to-school time means a busy schedule, but there's no question of waiting until next summer to enjoy the joy of being together.