Keeping Consistency During A Pandemic
Life certainly looks different right now. My family and I live in Westchester county, about 30 miles from NYC. We are about one mile from New Rochelle, a wonderful city that has unfortunately become more familiar around the country in the last few weeks due to the outbreak of Coronavirus. We are fully immersed in homeschooling and working from home, activities have all been cancelled, and as of Sunday, March 22, 2020, NY state residents must abide by a “rest in place” law. It is a scary and stressful time, but there are things we can do to maintain some sense of normalcy. During this time where we have little control, it is more important than ever to maintain sleep routines!
While my graduate degree in Elementary education and my 15 years of teaching did not prepare me for homeschooling my own two children, I did learn was that routine, structure, and consistency are some of the most important parts of working with children. Guess what? These concepts are just as important in parenting and with sleep!
Children thrive with structure. This is why preschool classrooms have colorful, picture-filled schedules and charts all around the classroom. When children know what to expect, they are more likely to follow directions and are much more likely to feel safe and comfortable in their environment. Our children look to us, as parents, to establish routines at home (this is the case, no matter how old your child is, even if it might not seem true!). This applies to naptime and bedtime routines.
Even if our days are very different now, one thing we can control (and we are all looking for something we can control!) is our naptime and bedtime routines. If your child usually begins the bedtime routine at 6:30, goes to bed at 7pm, keep this up. If naptime was at 1pm before the pandemic, naptime should continue to be at 1pm during the pandemic.
Late bedtimes and off-schedule naps will lead to an overtired child. Overtired children have a much harder time falling asleep, because when your body is overtired your melatonin levels (your sleep hormones) drop and your cortisol levels (your stress hormones) rise. They also may wake throughout the night and start waking early. These are not patterning what we want right now.
So, my advice is to focus on the importance of sleep. Keep bedtimes the same, keep naptimes the same, maybe read an extra book and snuggle a few minutes longer before bed. Do your best to keep things consistent for your children.