Winter vacation means lots of late nights and late mornings. Want to avoid sending cranky, overtired kids back to school? Here's how.

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After two weeks of toys and candy and late movie nights and video games, how do you make crazed children sleep?

Visions of sugarplums have been dancing around in their heads for about two weeks, and now you have to scrape your kids off beds, get them up and make sure they can listen at school (at least a little).

When you’re dreading getting a cranky, overtired kid up for school at 6, what’s the first step?

First, you need a sleep schedule, according to the National Sleep Foundation, which offers tips on sleep for getting back to school.

Pick a set bedtime and stick to it. Pick a set wake-up time and stick to that. A few days before, start inching towards those target times in fifteen-minute increments.

Staying up late and sleeping in on weekends messes with your kid’s sleep cycle, so try to stay with the times all week long.

Relaxing before bedtime, with a story or a bath, for example, is a great idea for getting kids in the right mindset to sleep. Electronics — video games, TV, smartphones — are not a great choice as they can get kids, well, wired before bedtime.

“Any screen time, no matter what it is … definitely limit it at least two hours before you get to bed” because visual stimulation that close to bedtime can really interfere with getting to sleep, said Dr. Stephen Weinberger, a pediatrician at Pacific Medical Centers Bothell.

And speaking of too much stimulation, caffeine is not recommended, either. Not too many parents give that to kids under 12 anyway, since parents do enjoy sanity and kids usually aren’t too into coffee.

But chocolate and soda (even root beer) can have caffeine too, so it’s best to avoid serving them if you want your kids to get on a workable sleep schedule, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

Finally, make sure the schedule you set is realistic regarding  how much sleep your child needs. For school-age kids, the National Sleep Foundation’s recommended range is usually 9 to 11 hours.

“Headaches, napping more,” are tell-tale signs when your child isn’t getting enough sleep to fit his or her needs, said Weinberger.

It might sound exhausting, but with a little planning, kids can get back to sleeping like … kids.