Back to School Bedtime Routines

5 Min Read | By Anna Ashbarry

Last Modified 31 March 2023   First Added 18 September 2020

This article was written and reviewed in line with our editorial policy.

With lighter evenings, summer holidays, and your family enjoying more free time, your kids have likely been staying up later than usual. Whether they’re teens or toddlers, this may cause some issues for the back-to-school period and early morning starts. Gradually introducing your children back into a regular routine will help them regain a good night’s sleep and ultimately help them settle into the next term.

Back to school bed time routine

September is approaching and after all the summer evenings, walks along the beach, bike rides, days in the park, and late-night strolls, the dreaded school nighttime routine draws closer and closer. We discuss and give you some helpful tips on how to settle your little ones into bed and how to help prepare them for their next school chapter.

1. Have an early night

Starting your bedtime routine earlier will help your family establish a stress-free evening. Try to avoid stimulating activities after dinnertime like rough play and instead encourage calming pastimes such as colouring in. The calmer your kids feel towards bedtime, the sooner they’ll start to feel sleepy.

Prepare for school the night before

2. Pack your bag the night before

Completing tasks such as preparing packed lunches, laying out uniforms, and sharpening pencils will help to ensure both you and your children can get a nice, relaxed night’s sleep. Fully prepare for the big day ahead, making early mornings less hectic by giving yourself less tasks to think about.

Feeling fresh before bed

3. Bath time before bed

After a busy day of playing, shouting, and jumping around, your young ones will most likely need a nice warm bath to unwind. Taking time to relax will help your child gradually fall asleep easier, gaining more hours of rest. Once they have nodded off, why not run a bubble bath for yourself? After all, you’ve earned it.

4. Read a bedtime story

As well as eventually sending your little ones fast to sleep, reading also has other advantages. Not only can it improve their overall vocabulary, but it will also ignite their imagination. You will see their confidence build quicker and begin to find a love for reading more independently.


Bedtime routine for young children

For young children, winding down after the summer holidays and preparing for the first day back at school or nursery can be a challenge (especially putting away their favourite toys!). Children of different ages require different amounts of sleep. For example, 1 to 5-year-olds need around 11 hours whereas teenagers function best with 9 hours. According to The Sleep Foundation, parents who set a regular bedtime schedule for their children are more likely to get sufficient sleep.

An estimated 10 -12 hours’ sleep is recommended for young children between the ages of 3 and 6 years old, which means introducing ‘bedtime’ around 7 pm is ideal. Work with your child to find a relaxing bedtime routine that helps them nod off. Whether it’s reading them a bedtime story, having some quiet time, or listening to relaxing music, find a way that best suits your little one.

Related: Kid’s Beds


Bedtime routine for teenagers

1. Unwind with a relaxing shower

Disconnect from your devices, turn on your favourite playlist, run yourself a warm bath or have a quick shower. Pick out your best-smelling bath bomb, light a candle, and unwind in a Zen atmosphere. Sometimes just taking some alone time and self-care before starting the next day is a great way to signal a fresh start for a new week or term.

2. Activities for sleep

Trying to get to sleep after exciting activities is difficult. The heart rate is still high and the body is full of adrenaline, whether that’s from playing sport, video games or watching an action-packed Netflix programme. Take an hour before trying to sleep by doing something quiet to help re-centre. This can include anything from reading to listening to podcasts, to help encourage drowsiness. Encouraging drowsiness before trying to sleep helps reduce the amount of time your child spends lying in bed awake rather than catching up on their precious sleep.

3. Turn off screens

Try to turn off all sources of blue light 60 to 90 minutes before your teen’s bedtime as this can help them to fall asleep faster. This includes electronic devices such as televisions, tablets, and mobile phones. Light emitting from screens upsets our natural circadian rhythms (our internal body clock) by tricking the brain into thinking it’s still daytime. This prevents us from feeling naturally tired and can resultingly, make it hard to switch off immediately after the devices have been too. A cooling-off period is needed to help this.

The benefits of sticking to a back to school routine

Sticking to a back to school routine will help reduce the stress during those frantic mornings. When you’re trying to get yourself ready, make packed lunches and organise P.E kits, a routine could make all those stresses lighter.

Getting everybody on the same page about what time your kids need to be vertical, what time breakfast is and when everybody needs to be out the door is crucial for peace of mind.

We know it’s rarely going to run like clockwork, but helping your kids understand personal responsibility is a vital life lesson – so don’t put it all on yourself; sometimes, things will be forgotten. However, being consistent throughout the year helps everyone understand their own responsibility.

Consistency is key

The earlier through the summer holidays you start implementing a routine, the less of a shock it will be once school restarts. This usually means they’ll be less likely to cause a fuss when it comes to bedtime.

As difficult as it may be at the start, being consistent with your kid’s sleep routine is key to success. So, ensure you don’t chop and change the process and within a couple of attempts, you’ll notice your youngster gets used to their routine. Consistency is just as crucial for teenagers. Going to sleep at a regular time each evening creates good routines and allows the body to settle into its circadian rhythm.

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