How to Ease Your Kids into a Back to School Sleep Schedule

Child in unicorn pajamas on the couch getting ready for bed

Summer is coming to a close, and the days of sleeping in, staying up late, and enjoying all those afternoon naps are just about over.

If you’ve got kiddos, it means one thing: some rough mornings are ahead.

Do you want to ease the transition and make that 6 a.m. wake-up call a little less harsh for John and Jane? Here’s what you can do:

  • Put a bedtime routine in place. Create a short routine to help your littles calm down, relax and get in that sleepy-time mood. Try to skip the screen time and try soothing options like a warm bath and a few bedtime stories instead. Once you have a routine, stick to it, and be consistent with when it starts and ends each night. 
  • Start moving back wake-up times incrementally. If your kids need to get up at 6 a.m. for school but currently get up at 9, start pushing back that wake time about two weeks out. On day 14, wake them up at 8:45, and on day 14, 8:30. Keep pushing the time back in 15-minute increments until you get to 6 a.m. You can also do this with bedtimes if you’re looking to get them to sleep at an earlier hour.
  • Skip the caffeine. If your kids have been hopped up on Mountain Dew all summer, it’s time to start weaning them off. At the very least, cut off all caffeine from early afternoon on. Even the slightest amount can throw off a child’s sleep patterns and wreak havoc on their school day.
  • Keep them active. It’ll be pretty hard to fall asleep early if your kiddos have been going to bed at midnight all summer. Though there’s no magic cure here, you can try the old “wear them out” trick, and encourage them to engage in some vigorous physical activity in the late afternoon. Take them to the playground, send them out for a game of tag in the cul-de-sac, or throw the ball around in the backyard.
  • Nix the large meals. Big meals can cause indigestion and discomfort, or in some cases, even wake your littles up for middle-of-the-night bathroom trips. Keep their dinners to reasonable sizes, and skip the heavy and spicy foods just to be safe.

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Aly Yale

Aly J. Yale is a freelance writer focusing on real estate, mortgage, and the housing market. Her work has been featured in Forbes, Bankrate, The Motley Fool, Business Insider, The Balance, and more. Prior to freelancing, she served as an editor and reporter for The Dallas Morning News. She graduated from Texas Christian University's Bob Schieffer College of Communication with a major in radio-TV-film and news-editorial journalism. Connect with her at or on Twitter at @AlyJwriter.