Is back to school right around the corner for your family? Ease back into the school year without resistance when you use these 6 smart tips and build a solid bedtime and morning routine for your kids. Heading back to school doesn’t have to be chaotic and stressful, with a little bit of planning and getting back into a routine that works for everyone, easing into the school year will be painless.
With school right around the corner, it can be a hard transition from the lazy, unstructured and free days of Summer where kids stay up until dark and rise later than normal. Falling back into the groove of waking up, getting ready for a full day at school, not to mention retraining the body and mind to go to sleep at a reasonable time can be well… tough and met with resistance.
It’s safe to say that no transition is without it’s bumps and entirely pain free but if you give yourself a reasonable about of time to ease back into the rhythm of a bedtime routine and structure of a morning schedule, by the time the first day of school rolls around, the transition will be smooth and easy.
Children need routine to feel safe and not overwhelmed. Big transition times such as back-to-school period, breaks in school, and even coming off the weekends can pull the rug from under kids and you might have noticed when you’re met with resistance unless you make the time to help them adjust.
The adjustment period for children who are experiencing back to school anxiety typically begins two weeks ahead of the school start and this is a good time to begin fine-tuning your bedtime and morning routines to help calm their jitters.
Older children who have gone through the back-to-school routine a couple times may only need one week of adjusting their schedules to help them get back on track for school’s start.
Here’s how you can help your kids get back into the rhythm of a school routine so they’re rested and prepared to head back to the classroom – without any morning battles or last minute rushing around.
GET ON TRACK WITH A SET BEDTIME
Based on the age and activity level of your child, set an appropriate bedtime taking in mind that it generally takes one full hour to transition from awake to fully asleep. Create a wind down period one hour from the time of their set bedtime, for example, if your child should be asleep by 8pm, start the bedtime routine and less stimulating activities at 7pm.
Bathing, reading books, doing a puzzle and coloring are all low-sensory activities that help the body begin to wind down from the day’s busy routine.
Related: Here are 10 Screen-Free Alternatives to help with low energy nighttime routines.
CREATE VISUAL CUES FOR YOUR KIDS
It’s easy for kids to get distracted moving from one task to the next. They operate moving from one single task at a time so listing out five things they need to do, one after another typically leads to nothing being done. Combine your routine with the stress of school and the rush of mornings and this can quickly lead to disaster!
Take the guesswork out of bedtimes and morning for your kids by providing them with a visual tool to help them remember the order to their routine. This is a checklist and quick reminder for them of what to do, and in what order.
PREPARE THE NIGHT BEFORE
Rushing around in the morning trying to pack backpacks, make lunches, eat a filling breakfast and head out the door on time can create anxiety in kids.
After dinner and before your kids fall into nightly routines, check homework, prepare backpacks, pack lunches and fill water bottles so they’re ready to go the next morning. Help your kids pick out outfits and set them out on the dresser for the morning.
To help with the morning rush, consider batch cooking breakfast foods which are easy to pull out and heat up instead of cooking on the spot from scratch. The next time you bake muffins, whip up a couple dozen. Spend 30 minutes on Sunday making a ton of pancakes and french toast to freeze and heat up during the week. Egg sandwiches and smoothies are great to prepare ahead of time – or bag the ingredients so all you do is throw in with a little milk in the blender and you’re ready to go.
CREATE A DROP OFF & PICK-UP ZONE
Designate one area in your home – preferably closest to the door you use the most to come in and go out of your home where everyone’s school gear lives. This way, no loose papers and stray items are left in five different places around the house, making it easier to forget the next morning when you’re herding kids to get out the door on time.
A drop off and pick-up zone also works great for jackets, shoes and accessories likes hats, gloves and scarves in the winter months.
We created a zone in our garage with hooks for jackets and backpacks, shoes and accessories from a $10 bookcase turned on it’s side. Check it out here.
SET AN EARLY ALARM TO ELIMINATE THE MORNING RUSH
Being rushed in the morning is a super stressful environment for kids – and adults! Set your alarm an extra 15 minutes early so you allow your family enough time to prepare, have breakfast and feel ready to tackle the day without stress. Unexpected things can and will happen – a leaky water bottle, forgetting to brush teeth, spilled cereal – so the extra time also allows you the flexibility to handle these events which can crop up without creating a chaotic environment.
HELP YOUR KIDS WITH TIME
Children do not have a developed sense of time. To them, 15 minutes feels like an hour. Help them by giving them a countdown of the time and simple tasks to complete.
- 10 minutes until we leave, please put your shoes on.
- 5 minutes until we leave, make sure you put sunscreen on your face.
- 2 minutes until we leave, time to go to the bathroom.
Heading back to school doesn’t have to be chaotic and stressful, with a little bit of planning and getting back into a routine that works for everyone, easing into the school year will be painless.