21 Aug Get Ready for Back to School
Summer vacation: up to twelve weeks of fun, late nights, and (HOPEFULLY) sleeping in. Therefore, it’s no secret that heading back to school can hit our little ones hard.
After all, the usual school routine is pretty much nonexistent at this point. It was lost a long time ago in between pizza and ice-cream at lunchtime and evening trips to the park. Am I right?
That said, it’s smart to start thinking about going back to school. Things will be completely different then compared to how they are now.
If you want to stay ahead of the curve, then there are some steps that you can take to ease the transition process.
Let’s dive right in, shall we?
Adapt Your Daily Schedule
Begin by having your child wake up AT THE SAME TIME every day.
One of my top tips is to think about what their morning will look like once they’re back at school. Then have them get ready by the time that they would need to leave—even if you don’t have anything to do on that particular day.
Can’t get a hold of your kid’s schedule? That’s okay—just start eating lunch around the time that they would normally eat at school.
Ultimately, you don’t want your child to struggle to adapt from having fourteen snacks all morning with mommy or daddy on-demand to then having to wait until 12:30 PM to eat. (Cue the tears and tantrums.)
However, if you start building those natural rhythms into your day ahead of time, then you will make this adjustment much easier for them when the first day back swings around.
Make Your Mornings More Active
Have you slipped into those lazy summer mornings? Not to worry—it happens to the best of us.
Even so, you can make your mornings more active in preparation for back to school by doing one or all of the following:
- Reading a book to your child at breakfast and asking them questions about the story to reinstate their listening habits
- Going over previous school work
- Planning a few outside activities in the week beforehand where your child will have to leave and come home around the same time as the school day
The trick is to help your little one be as rested and as ready as possible for the big day.
Having said that, it also doesn’t hurt to think about what new routines or independent activities that they will have when school starts! Is this the year they will start packing a lunch? Laying out their own clothes? Waking up their younger sibling?
If so, have your child start doing the activity NOW so they can practice it BEFORE you have a bus to catch or a school day to start on time! Trust me, it’s worth it.
Streamline Sleep Routines
True confession: sometimes my kids stay up LATE, especially in the summer months!
I mean, I don’t want to say no to dinners with friends, invitations to movies in the park, or miss bonfires or counting stars in the backyard. Life’s for living, after all.
That said, this means that when school is looming on the horizon, it’s time to get my kids in sleep boot camp. We start to make stricter boundaries around our nighttime activities and establish a more normal bedtime routine.
Then the first week of school is an adjustment in itself—Oliver sometimes comes home SO tired and cranky. I have to do the best I can to make sure he gets precious sleep at night just so that we can have a successful day.
My husband and I also use a nighttime and morning visual checklist in order to keep kids on track. (Sure, it basically goes out the window for most of the summer when we want them to experience some untethered time.) Although, we make sure that we bring these checklists back in the weeks leading up to going back to school.
Oh, and if you’re at the point of summer where it feels like your kids are awake late enough to watch Jimmy Fallon with you, then simply bring back their bedtime by ten minutes each day for 10 days (or until normal) before the first day of school. Sorted.
Turn Off the TV
Still struggling to get your little ones off to the land of nod? Sit tight as I’m about to make your day.
Research shows that eliminating screen time 30 minutes before bed will REALLY aid their sleep quality.
If your kids have gotten used to more screen time than usual over the summer (no judgment zone), start cutting this back just before they head back to school.
Whether this is a TV, phone, or iPad, turning off that electronic device a little bit earlier each day will not only help them fall asleep faster, but it will also prepare them for the lack of screen time at school. Win-win.
Turn Up the Talk
If you’re wondering what to do with the extra TV time, ask your little ones to make some goals for the year.
Depending on how old they are, they might give one-word answers that you can help them explain. If they say they want to be nice, give them prompts like: This year, I want to treat people well by [a certain date]. Write these goals down with them and have them “sign” their names. Then post it in their room so that they can remember it!
In addition, talk to your kids about their hopes and fears for the upcoming year, and do what you can to soothe some of these fears right away.
For instance, if they’re scared about starting a new school, it might comfort them to arrange a walk or drive to their school so they can see how close (or far) it is from home. You could even schedule a tour around the premises to calm their nerves.
Alternatively, find a buddy for your little one to make their first few days more pleasurable. Seek out the mom pages of their school and see if anyone has a similar class assignment. This is a great way to make a playdate and a new friend to make sure your kiddo can see a familiar face!
You don’t need me to tell you that the parents’ lives also change drastically as soon as school starts! It really is a big difference for the whole family.
Here are my top tips to help you get organized:
- Go school supplies shopping (and don’t forget to label everything)
I print a whole sheet of labels with Oliver’s name on it (in a fun font with a picture of his favorite animal or dinosaur) and then instead of writing his name on EVERY SINGLE SUPPLY I BUY, I just stick a label on! Simple.
- Weekly meal planning
Meal planning is something that I get serious about in the school year. I know from experience that my kids going to come home HUNGRY after working hard and they won’t be willing to wait for me to order something or make decisions.
To remedy this, I use the Meals function in the Artful Agenda digital planner. Then everyone knows what’s coming for dinner, along with the Lists function to make sure that I have all the ingredients.
- Prepare your after-school routine
Being a working mom means that my kids going back to school requires MORE organization.
Why? Well, instead of going to the same childcare option all day, they are shifting from school to some other form of care. This means that I need to arrange sitters and activities!
My advice is to firm up those plans now so you don’t have to stress as the days get closer. Make sure that you and your child know the routine for before and after school care BEFORE the first day of school.
Also, have a back-up plan for what to do in case you are late. And don’t forget to inform your emergency contact list of the locations of the school and after-school program to ensure a smooth pick-up process. Phewf.
Make Your Life Easier Tomorrow, Today
Even though it may initially seem like a lot of work, putting these steps in place NOW to save yourself aggravation LATER really is worth doing.
Sure, it will make the parents’ lives easier, but it will also make the lives of your children easier too.
After all, if you take the stress of a situation away, it ultimately makes it more enjoyable for everyone involved.
Wishing your family a pleasant back to school experience!
Get Ready for Back to School with Artful Agenda!