helping our overtired kids

Helping our Overtired Kids During the Summer

Summer is the season for late nights and national celebrations. It’s a season for fun and a less rigid routine. Even if you’re not participating in late night activities, you’re likely to hear loud voices or music nearby. And in the upcoming weeks, you’re likely to hear the explosions of fireworks going off around your home. With all of these variations and disruptions, your kids are probably getting less sleep. And it probably shows in their behavior the following days. So how can we enjoy summer activities and celebrations with our families while we have overtired kids? Here are a few ideas for helping our overtired kids.

Established Routine

Well, we have to go back and start with a good routine. This may sound counter-intuitive, considering that we’re discussing the lack of routine. But a regular bedtime or nap time routine can still serve you in a more chaotic time. When your little one already has a consistent order to bedtime, you can adjust the timing and still use your bedtime routine at any time. Quite often, your child will respond to the familiarity of a normal bedtime routine, and slip right into the expectations involved.

So if your routine is to wash up or take a bath, read a story, and then lie down in bed, stick with that routine even when your schedule is messed up. It may make sense to shorten your normal routine by doing a quick wash up and a really short story. But the comfort of the normal bedtime routine should begin helping your overtired kids to settle down.

What if they’re too worked up?

Stay calm

The bedtime routine is a starting point, but sometimes our little ones are so overtired that they lose their little minds. And many of us parents want to join them at this point. But, at this point, it’s really important for us to stay in grown-up mode. No melt-downs for us, at least not until that little one is in bed. This is not always easy for us to do. Baby/toddler/preschooler melt-downs can be really overwhelming for us. There’s often no logic in that moment, and we have a hard time knowing quite how to help. And when we do try to help, it can seem like nothing actually helps. 

And yet, we really do make a difference for our kids when we stay calm. We can remember that an overtired child (and even an overtired adult) has difficulty thinking clearly and expressing their feelings positively. Logic and good decisions are not things we can expect from an overtired human. So when we are up late, or our child has skipped a nap, or our schedule is all confused, let’s be ready. Let’s expect our kids to have a hard time, and be ready with our understanding of what is generally going on. We can have our calm demeanors ready to go. When we lead in this way, instead of reacting to the meltdowns, we really are helping our overtired kids to calm down.

Help your kids calm down

So, now that we have a plan for staying calm ourselves, we will be more capable of calming our kids. We will be able to run quickly but calmly through our bedtime routine. Then we can clearly think about what may help our children the best in that moment. Does your child need to cuddle for a little while? Or would calming music be the best thing? Maybe it’s a good idea to just rock your little one to sleep. What would be the best way to help your little one? When you are calm and prepared, you already know the answer to that question, and you’ll be more prepared to meet your child’s needs.

And so, helping our overtired children has a lot to do with our being prepared. This preparation isn’t complicated. It just takes a few minutes to think through how this day is likely to go, and to be ready for how it could affect each one of you. You’ll be surprised at the difference you feel when you think through this ahead of time and have a determination to be the calming influence.

Signing can help

We’ve talked about how overtired kids can have a hard time expressing what they need verbally. But did you know that children can feel much more comfortable signing in stressful situations? We’ve received many stories of children signing to their parents in the hospital when they couldn’t speak well in such a fearful situation. So kids who can sign have a backup for communicating in difficult situations. 

At Signing Time, we have several resources for you to start learning to sign with your kids. The Signing Time Dictionary is a great place to start. But we also have fun programming that makes it easy for you and your kids to learn to sign at My Signing Time. We have Baby Signing Time for kids aged 2 and under. And then there’s the Signing Time Classic Collection to continue learning through fun songs and stories. You can look through our Watch Free section to get an idea of what our shows can offer. And then you can try out a digital subscription to My Signing Time with a 14-day free trial. With a digital subscription, you can watch My Signing Time from any device. Try it out right here!

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