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This is Part 2 of our Back-to-School series.  In Part 1 we talked about how to ease those new year nerves.  Now it’s time to get down to business and take steps to make the transition back to “normal” life as smooth and easy as possible!

Part 2: Back to the Routine  

Oh how we love the lazy days of summer when bedtimes are flexible and mornings are slow and easy.  But, school is right around the corner and with it comes the need for a more structured routine.  Children thrive when provided with a stable, predictable framework for their life – even when they whine, roll their eyes, or otherwise object.

So, in order to avoid adding to the stress and chaos of the first week of school, let’s ease them in gently.  Here’s a basic plan to get your house back on a schooldays schedule.

  1. Make the process a family affair.  Have a family meeting to talk about the upcoming transition.  Allow children to have input into the process.  One child may love being put in charge of making sure Mommy is out of bed on time while another might like to be the “family secretary” writing out your new schedule. You can use this Family Schedule Worksheet to help organize your new routine and post it for everyone to see. 
  2. At least a week before the big day, start waking the kids up at their “school” time.  And, by “up” I mean dressed, fed, and ready for action!  No lounging in PJs in front of the tv. Older children can be given their own “grown-up” alarm clock and start practicing getting up all by themselves.
  3. Give your new morning routine a day or two then institute bedtime. It’s much easier to institute a stable, earlier bedtime AFTER you start getting them out of bed in the morning.  Bedtimes need to be a non-negotiable item – in order to get into the habit you must set a firm expectation that bedtime IS bedtime. 
  4. Plan fun activities for early in the day to give everyone something to look forward to during those first early mornings. 
  5. Make evenings quiet family time.  The whole family has gotten used to long summer evenings of fun.  Now homework is about to replace all those late night activities.  So, try your best to limit after dinner activities this week.  Limitations now will make the transition to homework time much easier next week.
  6. Take a trip to the school.  Visit new classrooms.  If this is a  new school, find out where the cafeteria and bathrooms are located.  For children riding the bus, check out the bus stop and practice getting there on time in the morning.

Be sure to check out Part 3 to hear about some great family traditions you can institute this year to help your children actually look forward to back-to-school time!

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