That Dirty Word: ‘Routine’… The Back to School Push and Pull
If your house is anything like mine this summer, you have at least one teenager who stays up late, eats a lot and appears glued to anything glowing – a computer, phone, television, IPod, etc. I realize this routine, or lack of it, must change in order for the school routine to begin. The real question is how much is the teenager motivated to step back into the school pattern and how much do I have to do to force the pattern? I know the basics on what should happen:
- Turn off the TV at least 1 hour prior to sleeping. Visual images increase brain stimulation – the opposite of what you want before you go to sleep.
- Turn off fast-paced music. Do not leave ear phones in with face-paced music while trying to go to sleep.
- Go to sleep much earlier. By now, you might know how many hours of sleep your teen requires in order to maintain a positive attitude. This usually varies between 8-10 hours.
- Avoid all caffeine 2 hours prior to bedtime. If at all possible, avoid eating at least an hour before bedtime.
- Clean up the messy space. People are generally less stressed in a clean and serene environment.
Here are some things you might try:
If your teen ‘needs’ some kind of noise stimulation at the time they go to sleep, you can use a free app that makes white noise. You can simulate a rain storm or crashing waves on a beach. You can download a free app to an IPod, computer or a phone.
Set a definite “turn off the TV” time. Do not negotiate. This should be at least an hour prior to bedtime.
Hold out a carrot. If you go to bed at 10 and are awake by 8 the week prior to school starting, we will go get bagels, donuts, etc. for breakfast.
Exercising will usually wear out a teenager enough to help them want to fall asleep. You can ask them to swim or play basketball in the evening the week prior to school. They are more likely to choose to go to bed earlier instead of midnight or later.
Take a hot shower. It relaxes almost everyone.
Try and turn on their motivation in all of this. Ask them what time they think they should be going to sleep. Negotiate even if you work into a reasonable schedule. If they choose, they are more likely to do it. Take them to the grocery store and ask them to pick out what they want to eat. They are more likely to eat breakfast if they like it. Ask them what they want to do in the hour prior to bedtime – read, take a shower, etc. Let them design the hour.
By now you’ve heard the same advice annually in August. The reason it’s repeated is because it still holds true. The week before school starts, go to bed earlier and rise earlier. Get into the routine of eating at standard times. Read and do low stimulation activities the hour prior to bedtime. Plan your morning prior to going to sleep – your clothes, your breakfast and your morning activities.
Lastly, remember to prepare for school. Students feel more in control if they know what comes next. Verify they have completed their summer reading and they have school supplies. Make sure their tennis shoes still fit. Check out their shorts. These growing adolescents are predictable in at least one area – they grow right out of those expensive shoes and clothes.
It’s time to institute the school routine. Success will follow if you engage and activate a plan. See you soon…