Summer is here!! It always takes me b surprise, but I know it shouldn’t (being a teacher, I should not be so shocked!!).
The sun is going down later and getting up earlier – how do you handle summer bedtime and what about having a “summer” schedule?
Set the scene
The sun is rising earlier and setting later - usually this is a great thing, yay!! But for keeping kids on track with their sleep, it can throw a few wrenches in things.
It is important to have good black out curtains. They don’t have to be fancy – even black trash bags, black poster board, or foil on the windows can do the trick. But blocking out the sun as much as possible will be HUGE in helping your child understand it is time for bed. Have their room set to "bedtime" status if necessary to continually set those sleep cues. If you need recommendations, click here.
Kids under 12 months
Ok, I am sure to ruffle feathers here.... If your child is on 2 or more naps, hold to their schedule/wake windows and don’t deviate too much. Really. I know I sound like a kill joy, but you will thank me later. Kids this age are so tied to routine that it will really be in their best interest to stick with their routine and schedule as best as possible. This is not forever and next summer you will most likely be in a different situation!! Enjoy the relaxing summer "adults only" evenings...they won't last long!!
1-3 years old
Even for this age, I recommend trying to stick with your routine and schedule pretty darn closely. I work with SO MANY FAMILIES who fall off the rails in the summer because it just took “that one night” to mess everything up. Will one night screw up your child’s sleep? Probably not. But the pit fall that I see so often on vacations, during holidays, and yes during the summer, is that it becomes a pattern. And it is hard to recover from a pattern.
For this age, you can stretch your child about 30 extra minutes. MAYBE an extra full hour. If you do the longer version, just be ready for crankiness the next day as your child fusses through the transition a bit.
3-5 years old
Kids this age are usually in transition of dropping the nap. So while this is a great age to have increased flexibility, you will also want to take into account where your chid is with the nap.
For those who are regularly taking a nap, you have more freedom to extend your child’s evening a bit longer. Don’t go longer than an hour though, it gets to be a bit dicey at that point.
For kids who have gone quite some time without a nap, you are also in this camp of having more flexibility - try to stay within an hour of your typical bedtime.
If your kid is transitioning out of the nap (some days taking one, some days not, varying lengths, a bit all over the place), you will likely not want to change too much because adjusting to no naps is something nutty all together! You have about 30 minutes to play with if you are lucky.
Kids aged 6+
At this point, your child has kissed naps good bye and they are a full fledged child. You’ve made it, Mama!! Enjoy the freedom and flexibility here. Don’t stray too far from the path and I recommend keeping to about an hour past your regular bedtime. I usually don't recommend a bedtime beyond 10 p.m. except for rare occasions.
The summer is a super exciting time. I remember being out late into the evening catching lightening bugs when I was a little child. And for kids above the age of 3, there are not too many reasons why you can’t shift your schedule back a bit to enjoy it!
Don’t forget, you will need to shift back to a regular and more age appropriate bedtime come the start of the school year. So, again, don’t get too crazy and start having a regular 10 p.m. bedtime (and, really, don’t do that lol).
Enjoy the summer!! Live it up, stay up a bit later, and make memories – that is what it is all about!!