Ah, back to school. It's the time of year that beach days and late summer nights are replaced with school supply shopping and early bedtimes... or so you hope.

But no matter how much we (or our kids) resist it—the first day of school always comes.

Thankfully there are a few practices that can make adjusting to a back to school bedtime routine a bit easier for the whole family.

Here's how you can help your family get back on track with a back to school bedtime routine:

1. Set an earlier bedtime.

Children naturally stay up later during the summer for many reasons. So, making the switch from relaxing summer days and sleeping in to waking up earlier and being ready to head out the door can feel like a huge adjustment.


The best approach to take is a gradual one.

Even if your child has already started school, you can still slowly start to move up bedtime by 15 or 20 minutes each night until you reach an appropriate time. Recommended bedtimes vary by age, but generally speaking you should shoot for 12 hours of sleep a night for your child.

2. Plan activities and meal schedules ahead of time.

The beginning of the school year can also bring an assortment of after school activities. In our household, we have exactly 1.5 hours in between after school pickup and football practice so dinnertime is either 4:30 or 7:30 p.m.

Scheduling meals earlier in the day can help avoid food-related disturbances at night and help promote earlier bedtimes. Plus, it will give your child plenty of time to unwind before bed.

3. Make bedtime a habit for the whole family.

It is best to set bedtime as close as possible for all children in the household. If one child feels left out because he has an earlier bedtime than his sister, it'll probably be more difficult for him to adjust. You can also have everyone in the family participate in the bedtime routine which help promotes healthy sleep habits in general.

4. Keep your bedtime routine consistent.

Children long for routine more than most of us realize. When they know what to expect, it helps give them a sense of security and support—making bedtime a whole lot easier. Your child might look forward to the time you spend each night putting her to sleep so try and take the same steps each night as you prepare for bed with your little one.

5. Limit screen time before bed.

Bright lights (especially those from TV and phone screens) can cause over-stimulation and reduce melatonin, making it difficult for your child to fall asleep. It is best to reserve screen time for late afternoon or early evening—not right before bedtime. Instead, opt for a book or a quiet activity that promotes a more calm environment prior to bedtime.

Overall, don't forget that transitioning your children from one season to the next can certainly brings its own set of challenges. Patience and consistency are crucial during any transition. And while change can take some time, by emphasizing healthy sleep habits, your children will naturally fall back into a rhythm and all will be OK. Mama—you've got this!

You might also like:

Motherhood is a practice in learning, growing and loving more than you ever thought possible. Even as a "veteran" mama of four young sons and one newly adopted teenager, Jalyssa Richardson enthusiastically adapts to whatever any given day has in store—a skill she says she's refined through the years.

Here's what just one day in her life looks like:

Jalyssa says she learned to embrace agility throughout her motherhood journey. Here's more from this incredible mama of five boys.

What is the most challenging part of your day as a mom of five?

Time management! I want to meet each of the boys' individual needs—plus show up for myself—but I often feel like someone gets overlooked.

What's the best part of being a mom of five?

The little moments of love. The hugs, the kisses, the cuddles, the smiles... they all serve as little reminders that I am blessed and I'm doing okay.

Are there misconceptions about raising boys?

There are so many misconceptions about raising boys. I think the biggest one is that boys don't have many emotions and they're just so active all the time. My boys display many emotions and they also love to be sweet and cuddly a lot of the time.

What do you think would surprise people the most about being a mom of five?

How much I enjoy it. I never knew I wanted to be a mom until I was pregnant with my first. My desire only grew and the numbers did! I am surprised with every single baby as my capacity to love and nurture grows. It's incredible.

How do you create balance and make time for yourself?

Balance for me looks like intentional planning and scheduling because I never want my boys to feel like they aren't my first priority, but it is extremely difficult. What I try to do is not fit it all into one day. I have work days because motherhood is my first priority. I fit in segments of self-care after the kids' bedtime so I don't grow weary.

What's the biggest lesson you have learned from motherhood?

I have learned that sacrifice is actually beautiful. I was terrified of the selflessness motherhood would require, but I've grown so much through the sacrifice. There is nothing better than living for something bigger than myself.

When did you first feel like a mom? How has your motherhood evolved?

I first felt like a mom when I was pregnant with my first son and I intentionally chose to change my eating habits so my body could be strong and healthy for him. I didn't have to think twice—I just did what I thought would be best for him. That decision being so effortless made me realize I was made for motherhood.

My perspective has changed with each baby as I've realized motherhood doesn't have to be one-size-fits-all. With my first son, I was a by-the-book mama and it was so stressful. With each baby, I have felt more freedom and it has made motherhood so much more beautiful. I have evolved into the mother that they need, I am perfect for these boys.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners