It’s hard to believe summer is almost over.
The long days of summer bring endless activities that satisfy my children’s thirst for fun. There is always something to do or somewhere to go. But the later evenings (and more hours of sunlight) make our bedtimes unpredictable and blurred, often pushed back in the chase of a summer high.
Swim meets run late. Visits to the grandparent’s house get extended to enjoy every last minute of their company. Frequent backyard movie nights lead to late bedtimes. Cravings for s’mores are met as the sun goes down. Friends stop by unexpectedly.
These spontaneous moments anchor the memories of the season.
Our summer bedtime routine looks nothing like it did during the school year. At the end of each summer day I am too tired to read three different books with three different children. The kids are exhausted and cranky. So I rush them to bed, hoping that the tomorrow night wil be different.
While summer has been fun we are missing out on the connection that reading stories together and tucking into bed provides.
In an attempt to make up for it, I am lingering in their rooms after the lights are turned off. I give them extra kisses and snuggles, and remind them how much fun the day was. I tell them how much I love them. Like most kids, mine spot the opportunity to stay up even later. In my delay to leave their rooms, they ask me questions. I listen, I answer, and they ask more – really good questions.
It has become our summer time bedtime routine (if you can call it that).
But soon it is time to go back to our old way of doing things, to embrace predictable evenings and stricter bedtimes. Getting ready for the new school year requires us to retrain both our bodies and minds. Instead of running ourselves empty, we are learning all over again how to settle down with a good book and ease into a good night’s sleep.
A book that’s helping us make that transition is Time For Bed, Sleepyhead by New York Times bestselling author and renowned psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Amen. It is a picture book like no other. It encourages children to use visualization techniques during the storytelling that stretch and engage their imaginations to help them drift off into peaceful sleep. My kids can’t help but relax as they close their eyes and picture the adorable characters have a big day at the beach, then return home to eat dinner, take their baths, and head to bed.
Full disclosure: It is going take a few weeks for us to let go of our wonderful summer and all our summer habits and get back into a schooltime routine. But, until then we will continue to make the most of the warm days with no homework and late family nights together.
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Are you grateful for the routine that a new school year brings? Or are you desperately trying to soak up every last second of summer? What are some things you try to help with the transition for your children? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!