Long weekends and vacations mean deviation from the regular nap schedule and bedtime routine. Many argue a break from routine is a positive way for families to relax and others find it difficult to manage toddlers when they are out of sync. Either way, a return to your toddler's typical day can sometimes be a bumpy road to navigate.
Here are a couple of tips for getting back to your regular household sleep schedule or ideas to consider if you are looking to make adjustments to your overall evening routine:
Plan for bedtime with an appropriate transition. Sleep professionals have documented the need for a calm down period, time to unwind from the day and let go of the hectic nature of school, play, and extra curricular activities. Ideally the transition to bedtime takes place over an hour or two and will include dinner, bath, story time, and any other routine that comforts your toddler. An overtired toddler will likely need a slightly longer than normal calming period; be sensitive to your child's tired temperament and plan accordingly.
Create an ideal sleep environment. The summer months bring long daylight hours and sunsets are still fairly late in September when school starts. Use room darkening shades or curtains to help create a darker room, as this signals the body that it is time to sleep. Remove possible distractions from the bedroom as well. Use of digital devices (iPads, iTouches, TVs, etc.) should be limited leading up to bedtime and these devices should even be removed from a toddler's bedroom if possible.
Reset with an early bedtime. If your toddler's sleep schedule is significantly off, a major reset may be warranted. Resetting with an early bedtime involves putting your child to bed anywhere from 1/2 an hour to an hour earlier than his or her typical bedtime. While this may seem extreme, the best way to correct sleep deprivation is with sleep. For more information on resetting your child's sleep schedule check out Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr. Marc Weissbluth.
Remember that it may take as long as two weeks to reestablish your toddler's sleep routine depending on how off schedule or overtired he or she is. Be patient and consistent as you reset. Also, it is important to note that toddlers already on a consistent sleep schedule prior to a break in the routine often go back to schedule more easily than toddlers always on a variable schedule. In other words, the more consistent you are on a regular basis the easier it will be to break the schedule and return back again.
ABOUT CHRISSY K
I am mom to three boys (one with several life-threatening food allergies) who will never own too many picture books or create Pinterest-worthy snacks. Simply Chrissy K is a place to find helpful tips on parenting that stem from my work with families as an educational consultant and parenting coach.
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