- Jessica Berk
Save Sleep! Prevent the "Summer Slide"
We are definitely in the heat of summer down here in Florida. I think most of the country has had record heat already this month, too.
While summer is one of my favorite seasons, it can also really mess up our kid’s sleep if we’re not careful.
I call it the “Summer Slide” and it’s s u p e r common so you need to know about it so you can avoid it!
Our toddlers & preschoolers thrive on routine and schedule. Knowing what comes next and who’s in charge makes them feel safe and secure.
So, when summer rolls around, schedules might change and flex more than usual. Kids may be out of daycare or preschool. They may be spending more time away from home traveling - especially now that the world has opened up again. And they may be going to bed later because the sun is up later and parents want to stay out and socialize.
Now, I don’t want to be a total kill-joy here!
I mean, we’ve all been cooped up in our houses for the last 12 months! So we do want to get out and travel, stimulate the economy and see family and friends again.
But we don’t want to do all that at the expense of our kids’ health, right?
Would you forget to feed your kid dinner because you’re enjoying an evening at your neighbor’s house?
No, of course not.
Now, that's kind of an extreme analogy.
But the truth is, sleep is one of our fundamental needs. And it’s just as important as food.
So, you should prioritize it and plan for it.
How do you do that while also trying to have a life and enjoy the summer?
Tips to Prevent the Summer Slide and Still Have a Life:
Dark, dark, dark: The sun is up later which means it can still be sunny as late as 9pm or even later. I used to live in Minneapolis and I swear it was still bright some days after 10pm! And you KNOW, you don’t want to be putting your kid to bed that late. So, make blackout curtains your bestie! You can even velcro strips around the edges if some lights seep in the corners. Having a dark room helps signal our body that it’s time for sleep.
Rockstar sleeper: When your child is a rockstar sleeper, their sleep schedule can actually be more flexible than kids who don’t have well-established sleep habits. I’m talking about kids who have a defined bedtime routine, consistent lights out time and are used to sleeping through the night each night. These kids have sleep “muscle memory” so when they go on vacation or stay late at a cookout, they still fall asleep easily and can get right back on track the next day without being an overtired disaster.
Prioritize sleep: Like I said before, just like food, your kid needs sleep. It’s not just a “nice to have if we’re home in time”. They need 10-12 hours of sleep each and every night to be exact. So, plan ahead for naps and bedtime.
Sunny time: Get your child outside in the afternoon. Exposure to sunlight in the afternoon helps regulate our body’s circadian rhythm. And we want this for optimal sleep.
90% Rule: Your goal should be to keep your kid’s good sleep schedule consistent 90% of the time. This really shouldn’t be that difficult. Unless you’re a major jet-setter, you’re not travelling ALL the time. And you don’t need to have late nights every single night. Limit the late nights and disrupted sleep to only once a week or so. This makes it easier for your kid to bounce back and not get affected by the Summer Slide.
When you feel tempted to throw these tips out the window, consider the alternative...
When your child doesn’t get enough sleep, they’re just downright cranky and unpleasant to be around.
On the verge of a meltdown if something doesn’t go their way, argumentative for no reason, clingy, whiney.
So, sure, staying out late is fun and all, but if you know that your kid is going to be a disaster the next day, is that a trade off you really want to make?
Now, I’m not saying don’t live your best life in this COVID-free summer.
I’m just saying, consider your kid’s needs, prioritize them and make the smart choices that will make the summer enjoyable for everyone.
If you need help establishing healthy sleep habits, I'm here for you! >>Click to learn more