August has drawn to a close and September is upon us. Already, evenings are beginning to feel crisp, making for perfect sleeping weather.
But in homes with children, Fall isn’t just a change in seasons: It’s also a change in routines. Back to school season is about more than sales on pencils and sneakers.
It’s also about transitioning our children from their summer routine into their academic-year routines.
And if your summer routine looks vastly different from your school-year routine--like if it involves sleeping until noon followed by lounging on the beach--this can be a really jarring transition for your whole family.
That’s why we’ve come up with this list of 5 tips for getting back into your school year routine.
If you’re switching from a routine of sleeping in to a routine of getting up early, you can guarantee that you’ll be dealing with grouchy, groggy kids in the morning. You might even be grouchy and groggy yourself! That’s why it’s a good idea to get as ready as possible at night so that in the morning you can essentially just walk out the door.
What does getting ready the night before look like? It can involve everything from packing backpacks and lunches at night to laying out outfits and signing paperwork.
Pro Tip: If your kids are on a rotating class schedule, consider having two backpacks so that they can just grab the right one on the right days of the week.
Let’s be real: In the summer, we let some of the rules relax a little. Bedtime might be later than it is during the school year, or kids might be allowed screen time later into the night. But if you want to get back into a good school routine, it’s important to reign those rules in again. One of the most important times to do this is bedtime.
Bedtime is critical for kids, most of whom need at least ten hours of sleep a night to function well. The more we can encourage our children to get a good night’s sleep, the more likely they are to thrive in school. While we can’tmakeour kids fall asleep, there are many things we can do to encourage a good night’s sleep.
One of the best things you can do is choose a time--maybe an hour or two before bedtime--when you start winding your kids down and helping them to settle. It’s best if you can remove screens, including TVs, cell phones, and computers at that time. This can be a nice time to read together as a family, play a quiet game, work on a puzzle, or just prepare for the next day. Whatever you do to wind down, the goal is for it to not overstimulate their minds. That way, when bedtime rolls around, they’re actually ready to settle down and go to sleep.
Do you want your kids doing their homework as soon as they get home from school? What’s the curfew on weeknights? When is it appropriate for kids to ask you to sign their permission forms?
There are a lot of rules during the school year that don’t matter as much during the summer. But eight weeks is a long time when you’re a kid, and it’s easy to forget what some of these rules are when they haven’t been enforced in months. Additionally, as kids grow older, they may outgrow some of the rules they had when they were younger, or you may have higher expectations of their behavior.
To keep yourself and your children on the same page, it’s a good idea to have a quick refresher on your family’s ground rules at the beginning of the school year. Doing this before any problems arise can prevent you and your children from becoming frustrated with one another and can make the transition smoother as a result.
Meal planning is a great idea any time of year, but it’s especially important once school is back in session. Unlike the more flexible days of summer, the academic year gives you a limited period of time to do homework, feed your family, interact, and do bedtime. If your kids do after school activities, that time frame is even more limited. So stopping by the grocery store on the way home from work isn’t really an option.
When planning your meals for the week, it’s also important to consider what your family will be eating for breakfasts and lunches. And while it’s great to be health-conscious, remember not to be too ambitious, especially in your first weeks back to school. Casseroles and grab-and-go breakfast ideas are a safe bet until your family gets back into the rhythm of the school year.
Our kids pick up on our moods. So if we’re stressed out about them going back to school, they’re likely to be stressed out as well. If you want to raise kids who are excited about going back to school, communicate your own excitement. Discuss how great it will be for them to see their friends again or talk about how nice you feel when you’re on your own routine.
If your kids are already stressed out about going back to school, you can empathize with them without adding to their stress. This can especially happen with kids who struggle academically or socially. Discuss problem-solving techniques and help them roleplay some of the harder aspects of school. If they go into school with a plan, they’re more likely to do well and be confident. And, at the end of the day, that will make everyone in the family happier.
The back-to-school season doesn’t have to be stressful. When you go into it with the right attitude--and a few easy hacks under your belt--it can be a really exciting time of year for you and for your kids. They get to see their friends again and get back into the swing of education, and you can get back into your regular routine as well. In a few weeks, you’ll be relishing the school year.