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Hey, hey!

I'm Michele DiSpirito

I've been where you are.

Tired. No. Exhausted! Frustrated and confused as to what to do with an adorable little one that just. won't. sleep.

I'm a mom to three boys ages 6 and under, wife to Kyle for 17 years, and all about getting some good sleep for us all! While struggling to make sleep consistent and a reality with my oldest, I scoured the internet for answers and was left more frustrated and confused than when I started. I wanted a clear path; someone I trusted to just tell me what to do, how to do it, and when. What I wanted was what I'm here to be for you today - a Pediatric Sleep Consultant.

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How to Protect Sleep During Back-to-School


‘Tis the season for schedules and routines to be refined! If you have a little one that’s starting back to school (or it’s their first time!), daycare, or preschool, this episode will help you keep your sanity at home and prioritize sleep!

You don’t want to miss:

  • The 2 biggest things to help your kids get the sleep they need

  • How to encourage your children to rest

  • Ways to help your children engage with the routines established

Links and resources:

Make sure you hit SUBSCRIBE so you don’t miss out on any sleep tips, sleep science, and encouragement.

And, if you enjoyed this episode, would you please leave me a rating and a review? Thank you!!


Hey there! This is Michele DiSpirito with Good Night Families and you are listening to the Sleep and Sanity podcast; I help you with your little one's sleep and hopefully help you find your sanity along the way.

And welcome to season two. I had every intention over the month of August while I was off to batch a ton of podcast episodes. And I did a total of zero. Well, I guess you can count this one, but, um, that's it.

We had a great summer. We have been remodeling our master bathroom, making big plans about redoing our laundry room, like all kinds of fun things around the house. And we have started our very first year of homeschooling. So as my husband said, it's not like I was lazy over this past month but, um, some things just kind of got pushed to the side. But I'm super excited to be back with you and share some wonderful sleep tips and some life with you.

So today I'm going to be talking about how to get into the rhythm of back to school. By the time this goes out, I think every school in the United States will be back in session.

So, I thought it would be a great time to be talking about how to still get great sleep. Even though older ones are headed into preschools, regular school, or even daycare, here are some ways that we can still promote wonderful sleep. So stay tuned.

The routine cards are just a great visual for your child to be able to see each step in their routine. These cards are black and white so that your child can color them in giving them more owner. Of each card and gives you an opportunity to explain each step as they color. The planer pages are blank pages for the day, the week, and the month where you can either do symbols or even words, depending on the age of your child, showing each thing that they have on their individual agenda so that they have a little bit more of ownership of what their days are and have a good overview of what to expect. If you are interested in downloading the planner pages and the routine cards, you can go to goodnight to get yours today.

There are really two big things that are really gonna help promote great sleep when there's a big change in schedule/environment, the first one being routines.


So over the summer, things get really slack. Even when we have the best intentions. I think most of us end up just kind of letting go to the “sure, whatever” side of schedules and routines, and that's not a bad thing. We all need to take a little bit of a vacation even from having a lot of structure. So now that we're back in school, back at daycare preschool, it's time to kind of reign things in a little bit, because it really does help all of us sleep better and just have a little bit more sanity.

So have routines established and not just around bedtime, which obviously is very important and I highly recommend that. But when you think of the things that you need to happen every day after school or daycare/things that you want to happen after school and daycare, build a routine around those things.

Children really thrive off of some predictability and it will definitely help over time with their cooperation and their mood, which in turn helps with your mood. And so it's just a really great way to become a family that “does” together - teamwork.

It doesn't have to be every moment measured out and this is what we have to be doing right now.

That works well for some families maybe, but I know in our home with little ones, that's a bit too stressful for me to try and keep up with all of that. So just having simple routines for after those hours at school is gonna be really helpful for them to know what to predict.

And within those routines, allow for space for them to make their own choices.

After-school routine ideas:

Snack time

So for example, if you get to pick up your little one, you can have that opportunity for good quality time, talking about their day. Or some peace and quiet. Maybe they may not be talkers. That's great, too. Once you’re home, have a snack and then do a little bit of quiet time where they get their own time away in their own room.

Quiet time

As you know, I'm a huge advocate for having quiet time, once your little ones stop napping completely. But of course, once they're going to school, or if they're in daycare, they're not gonna necessarily have the ability to have a quiet time. So this will be a great opportunity for them to just have some alone time to unwind from the day.

They've obviously been around a lot of people throughout the day. And if they are introverted, they're for sure going to appreciate and need this time alone. And it doesn't need to be a very long quiet time, 30 minutes maybe, or more if you have time for that, but we don't want to slam-pack their whole time with things that they need to do.

Outside time

Come home, have a little bit of a snack, and let them have options. So again, there's some freedom within their boundaries. Quiet time, again, some options within what they get to do. It's just wherever you have designated, it needs to be that's the boundary. And then having some time outside.

You may need to rearrange this routine, especially once it gets dark at 4:30, but for now, having it a little bit lighter out later in the day is great.

During snack time, and if possible the outside time, are also great times for you to really connect with them. That’s also very helpful with sleep. It's all so holistic. It really all comes together.

Especially during these first few weeks of school, having the afternoons as low-key as possible, especially initially, is going to be very helpful as they're adjusting to this new schedule, even if they've been in school before. It's a big adjustment from having all day at home, even if they've done camps and stuff.

So giving them lots of grace, some space to unwind, and being as involved as possible during that time too, helps them process all the things. It's a big change for everybody.

So allowing for that and just having those routines. And then of course, like I said, having a bedtime routine is so, so helpful when it comes to having great sleep. A bedtime routine can have multiple benefits for the child and the family because each time you do the routine, you are promoting different parts of their life that they need to be taken care of, even once they're out of the home - nutrition, hygiene, communication, physical touch.

All that to say, having a bedtime routine, along with these other routines, is going to be really helpful for them to be able to get to sleep and stay asleep and be well rested for their next day of school.

And definitely download those routine cards that I mentioned earlier in the episode. We have started implementing, and I will actually add these to the download, instead of cards, we've been using another method.

I've printed out on a sheet of paper the routine in order. One half of the paper has the pictures, because my son isn't able to read yet, and then the other side has the words of what needs to be done. And I've cut just underneath each picture, halfway through the page to create a door flap. There's Velcro so once he shuts the door flap it Velcro's it closed. Once it’s closed he can see a checkmark and it says finished. This gives him something to do as he's moving through his routine and it's given him the ability to get ready every morning without me having to be like, get your shirt on, get your pants on. He really enjoys doing his check marks is what he calls it. So, I will add that to the download.

Routine cards/visuals can definitely help with the progression of routines, especially ones that are kind of a blanket, like the “morning routine”. Okay, well, what do we do in the morning? The cards/visuals make it easier for them to do their routines independently.

Early Bedtime

The next big thing that I highly recommend when it comes to this big change in their life is doing an early bedtime.

I know that, especially with older ones, their school days can run a little bit later, depending on when buses run and school pickup and all the other things, but even just 15 to 30 minutes earlier than typical is going to make a big difference in helping them get the sleep that they need.

Of course, they're likely gonna be far more tired in these first few weeks until they adapt to this new schedule and routine, so allow for extra sleep and rest over the weekends and any other time that you can add it in. Trying to not overschedule our time and our children's time is really gonna be helpful in preserving the time that they need to be able to get the sleep that they need.

If your little one isn’t sleeping well consistently, I do work with families with children up to age five. If you are needing help in getting your little one to sleep and stay asleep through the night in their own space/if what's happening in your home is not working for you, I would love to talk to you about making a situation work for you. You can contact me here and we can talk about what it would look like to work together.

Well, that's all I have for you today, friend. Thank you for being here. I'm excited to be chatting with you again every week for a little while, and as always here's to your sleep and your sanity.

No matter the steps you take next, I am so grateful that you're here and I appreciate you listening. Until next time. Sweet dreams.


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