Is back to school right around the corner for your family? Ease back into the school year without even a hitch in your step, when you use these 6 smart tips. Heading back to school doesn’t have to be a chaotic or stressful time. With a little bit of planning and structure with a daily routine that works for everyone, easing into the school year will be pain free and fun! Plus, how to incorporate routine cards for simple mornings and bedtimes.
Back to School: Transitioning from Summer to School with Ease
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.
START ADJUSTING BEDTIME FIRST
In our house, bedtimes are the first to be pushed with it’s still light outside at 9pm, and I can’t easily get away with 7:30pm bedtimes as usual.
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.
Think about it. If you ask your child to do three tasks in a row, how many usually get done?
The first one right?
One thing at a time is about the speed of most kids. So what do you do?
Use visual charts and reminders to help them move through many steps in order.
Routine cards and daily charts tell kids exactly what order to do things in. The best part about routine cards? No more reminding or nagging about what comes next.
It takes the guesswork out of bedtimes and morning routines, especially as you head back to school and are getting into a rhythm again.
Here are some great charts on Amazon too if you want a physical chart for kids to touch, feel & move around:
- I Can Do It Chart
- Magnetic Chore Chart with Clocks for Timing (Good if Your Child Know How to Read a Clock)
- Morning & Bedtime Routine and Reward Charts
- Magnetic My Responsibility Chart
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.
- Shower and do any other steps that will ease the morning rush.
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 and spend 30 minutes on Sunday making a ton of pancakes and french toast to freeze and heat up during the week. E
gg 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.
Related: 9 Ideas to Organize Backpacks & Gear When You Don’t Have a Mudroom
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 20 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.
Now, if your the parent and you need to get back on track with a morning routine that rocks, Crystal Payne, author of the book, Goodbye to Survival Mode has two inexpensive and insanely helpful classes to help you get your mornings (or evenings back on track) for a super productive and less-stressful time.
HELP YOUR KIDS MANAGE THEIR TIME
Children do not have a developed sense of time.
To them, 15 minutes feels like an hour or for some, two days.
Help them by giving them a countdown of the time and simple tasks to complete in those small pockets.
- 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.
- 1 minute until we leave, grab your backpack and get in the car.
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.
Since we’re busy parents, timing is important for us. We started using Happy Kids Timer app on iPad. There are several morning chores, like brushing teeth, getting dressed, brushing hair, breakfast etc. We started with the free version of the app, later we moved on to paid version of the app to adjust order of the activities according to our home habits. Unfortunately, adjustments are only available in paid version, but 1 buck was worth it. No more negotiations or fights in the morning with kid since then.