Get the Kids in Bed: 6 Tips to Stop Sleeping in with a School Sleep Schedule

get kids on a sleep scheduleI don’t know about the rest of you, but at my house, bed time becomes slightly more flexible in the summer months. Then as a new school year begins we see a rise in early-morning zombie children. While I’ll applaud those parents that actually manage to keep their kids on a school sleep schedule all year long, for the rest of us that first week is often a battle to get kids to go to sleep, stay asleep, and then wake up all at the right times. The question then becomes: is there an easier way to deal with kids that won’t go to sleep for back-to-school? Maybe, I do have a tip or few that might help.

Start early.

Ideally, you should start trying to regain that school sleep schedule before school actually starts. If you slowly move bedtime back to an earlier hour and give wake-up calls earlier as well, the transition goes much smoother– less whining, less grumpy, more sanity. I’ve found shifting an hour each week works well. This also gives you an idea how soon you should start. Simply count how many hours you need to adjust bed time for school, and that’s the number of weeks lead you need.

Know how much sleep your child needs.

Not all kids need the same amount of sleep. If you’re trying to make your child sleep for too long, of course he or she will wake up earlier than necessary and then likely feel tired before bed time and nap– which messes everything up. Here are the average sleep requirements for school-aged children compliments of the National Sleep Foundation:

how much sleep kids need

Also consider your child’s typical sleep habits previously in the summer if they were unregulated. Between the two, you should get a good idea of where to set bed times and wake-up times.

Be consistent.

Next, don’t allow a drastically different weekend sleep routine. While many parents let their kids stay up a bit later on the weekends, try to avoid all-nighters followed by mid-day snooze fests– unless there is a super awesome Doctor Who marathon or something, I mean who could deny a child that joy? A good rule of thumb is not to allow more than 4 hours bed time variance on the weekends.

Prepare your kids for sleep.

There are a few things that can make falling asleep harder on children, including:

-caffeine
-large meals
-snacks high in carbs or sugar
-high-energy activities

…pretty much all the stuff most kids love to sneak. Be sure that your daily schedule sets dinner time well before bed time, avoid desserts too close to bed time, and end the day in a relaxing, calm way. Younger kids really benefit from a routine of sorts as well. Keep it simple. Something like, we brush our teeth, read a book, go to bed. Elaborate routines of any kind are generally an epic fail because they are harder to keep up on. Letting your kiddo have some input on what your bed time routine consists of can also help encourage them to stick to it.

Use the light.

The brain relies on light to gauge when to go to bed and when to wake up, use that to your advantage. Start lowering light levels close to bedtime, eliminate as much light at bed time, and then provide bright light in the morning. On the dark side, black out curtains and low-light lamps or dim-able bulbs are a great start. For the sunshine, switch out your overhead lighting to daylight bulbs (this is also great for plants and beating the winter-time blues) and open those curtains up before your child wakes. Placing your child’s bed in a spot where when curtains are open, light lands on the bed (but not necessarily in their face) is also recommended.

Go to bed yourself.

You certainly don’t have to actually go to sleep, you can just hide in your room with a bottle of wine and your cookie stash if you want, but if there are people about the house being active, your child is less likely to go to sleep. Younger kids in particular worry they are missing something after they go to bed. It can be helpful to retreat to your room with the door shut, so it’s “bed time” for everyone, until your child falls asleep. This is less important of, of course, in older kids.

Have any tips on getting kids on a sleep schedule we missed? Something work well at your house? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

You might also find these helpful tips for achieving an easier wake-up call helpful.

6 Tips to Help Kids Wake Up in the Morning

Who knows who decided stuff like school and work needed to start so freakin’ early, but the do. This means no matter how you’ve chosen to educate your kids, chances are you have to wake them up in the morning. The stereotypical vision of a parent with pots and pans being ignored by a blanket covered kid is not so far from the truth—a squirt gun works well too but brings on some screaming. The truth of this stereotype is many kids are indeed pretty hard to pry from slumber land.

If your child is one of the many, here’s a few ideas that might be a little less fun than a squirt gun, but are also quieter.

tips to help kids wake up

Get them on a decent sleep schedule.

If your kids aren’t getting sufficient sleep, it’s pretty logical they aren’t going to want to wake up in the morning. The single most helpful thing you can do to avoid wake-up battles, is to get your kids to bed on time with a decent sleep schedule. I have some tips on just how to do that you can read as well.

Hide the alarm.

Don’t have your child’s alarm right next to the bed where they can just slam it off and go back to snoozing. Put their alarm across the room, under the bed– anywhere out of reach. Bonus points if you change the location of said alarm every night. They even make alarms that will run away from your kids these days. This eliminates snooze buttons, breaking alarms, and redirects the I-don’t-want-to-be-up grumpiness to the alarm and off of you.

Breakfast in bed.

While not all parents have time to make a steaming pile of fruit-laced waffles every morning, having some sort of food ready when your child wakes up can really help them wake up, especially if its accompanied by a c ice-cold drink. High-carb options such as juice give kids some extra, well, juice in the form of a quick blood sugar rise and resulting energy boost, but milk, water– any drink will do. Just make it cold. If your kid can just wake up and kind of sit around when they first wake up they’ll stay groggy and grumpy longer. Eating unlike showers or getting dressed is often something children want to do, so it doesn’t create one more battle, it just gets a morning necessity out of the way earlier.

Play with the heat.

Some kids seem to wake up better if the house is nice and toasty, because there’s nothing appealing about a freezing house. While others find a cold house invigorating—even if it’s against their will. Experiment with different morning temperature levels and you may find one works better than the other. A programmable thermostat can be a great way to crank the heat down while everyone is warm and cozy in bed, then turn it up or keep it down in the morning hands free. These can also help reduce your utility bills.

Turn up the lights.

Light helps the brain signal sleep and wake times. High light, especially sunlight, as a result helps kids wake up in the morning (though directly in their eyes is usually a bad play). Opt for sunlight bulbs in your home, open curtains in the morning, and consider moving your child’s bed to a position where light from said open curtains hits their bed.

Make it worth it.

Finally, you need to find some sort of incentive for your kids to get up in a timely manner. For my kids, it’s the first one up and ready gets first seat pick in the car and  hot-water usage in the shower. For your family, you might consider adding it to your chore list or behavior chart, if you have one, which offers some reward for completion. If not, find some natural enticement like the one I mentioned above that you can just point out to your child. Your goal either way is to make getting up more appealing than sleeping.

How do you get your kids up in the morning?

How to Remove Permanent Marker: The Truth

“Glorious,” I thought, staring at my newly repainted glisteningly perfect generic eggshell-white walls at 3 am—because I’ll sleep when I’m childless. I imagined to myself those walls might actually stay white this time. They would. They did for approximately 5 hours, until my children awoke and one waltzed down the stairs dragging a handful of markers as he went. “It’s a rainbow,” he screamed from timeout, and oh, I was over the rainbow. At this point I had one of those mom-brain moments where it seemed like a good idea to Google anything beyond pointless trivia—it turns out my walls either have marker on them or cancer, I’m not sure. If it’s marker, the Internet proudly informs, “No need to repaint! Just slather this long list of random shit on it and scrub until your arm aches!”How to Remove Permanent Marker how to get sharpie off skin

Okey, dokey.

It started with toothpaste, because that was already on the other walls in spots, but all I got was a newly minted rainbow.

Next, I popped it with Magic eraser, because what mom doesn’t have one of those. The smeared and only lightly faded resulted sneered back at me.

But that got me feeling artsy I guess, because next I tried tracing the masterpiece with a dry erase marker and wiping it away. It turned out twice as lovely, but don’t worry, the net has more solutions for how to remove permanent marker.

Bug spray! Hair spray! Lemon oil! WD40! Rubbing Alcohol! Nail polish remover! Aftershave! Windex! Coffee?!?

Vodka, for me I mean, because none of that worked, and I don’t think words have been invented to describe how that smells.

No folks, I have come to the conclusion that the reason people think such a long list of ridiculous things remove marker of any sort from painted walls is that they scrubbed so hard the paint came off and with it the marker. The next time you run into a someone that suggests otherwise, politely ignore them, cause you know they’ve got some guns from scrubbing all that paint away. Once you’re at a safe distance, either learn to live with your new interior decorators work or suck it up, killz it, and repaint, because I promise that’s the easiest answer.

I found once I had recently painted all my walls, saving the paint mix codes made it easy to spot repaint.

On that note, what if it isn’t permanent marker, and it isn’t on a white wall? Then can it be removed? Maybe.

What’s the easiest way to clean marker, pencil or crayon off households surfaces?

Marker on sealed hard surfaces is actually the easiest to deal with. Drawings on things like televisions, counter tops, clear-coated wood floors, desks or other household items can be quickly removed with fingernail polish remover. If you don’t have any, rubbing alcohol comes in as a close second-best thing. Remember in either case to keep the area well ventilated as both options are a bit high on fumes. This does not apply to porous surfaces, such as unsealed wood or painted walls.

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser will also usually take washable crayons or non-permanent markers off of painted walls and some porous surfaces.

When it comes to marker on cloth surfaces, if you can’t throw the item in the washer, in cases like couches, you can try a bit of laundry spot remover and a rag. It really depends on the type of fabric your kiddo has chosen to draw on. As a side note, they sell spray on stain guards at most furniture stores that help fabric surfaces resist stains. These coatings also make it easier to clean art off, but then that’s a preemptive strike. If you can’t remove marker on your couch by hand, you can rent a shampoo machine with an upholstery tool. However, if you have an avid artist or multiple children you may want to invest in buying one. The Bissell Little Green Machine, for example, costs around $70 to $90, and works excellent for couches and car interiors alike.

Finally, skin, how to get sharpie off skin. Your skin is a porous surface of course, and sadly, that means removing marker from it is very difficult. Please don’t listen to people who tell you to use rubbing alcohol or toothpaste or whatever. Again, the skin is a porous surface. If it’s a really small patch that might be doable, but as most kids do the head-to-toe act, you have to keep in mind their skin is absorbing what you’re putting on it–just don’t smother your child in nail polish remover, K? Washing with soap and water will fade it, and that’s about all you can do, frequent washing and long sleeves until it’s gone.